Personal finance education may be required at Wisconsin public schools

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Wisconsin public school do more than just provide the basic curriculum programs; they also help their students understand the fundamentals of finance such as budgeting, credits, savings, loans, and interests. With almost unanimous support, the state assembly passed a bill that requires public schools to step up and include financial education into their kindergarten-through-12th-grade syllabus. It is clear that if and when the bill becomes law, for the first time, it will be compulsory for all public schools to incorporate financial education as one of the units taught to students throughout their academic years. So, why the tremendous support for the bill?

Why students must learn personal finance education

Research suggests that financial crisis can be averted if students learn about finance at an early stage. Besides, economics lessons help children and young adults to identify personal and other chronic failures in finance enabling them to be smart and responsible adults. Previously, students would graduate from school possessing very little knowledge regarding how money works. As a result, they might end up finding themselves having unmanageable debts or other financial problems. Supporters of the bill say that the primary goal of the bill will rectify this issue and ensure that students graduate having basic knowledge concerning finance.

The Wisconsin Bankers Association is one of the many groups fiercely campaigning for the implementation of financial training in state schools. To shed some light concerning the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s support for the bill, Michael Semmann, a member of the Association revealed that they intend to get rid of all the obstacles that might prevent the financial acumen of all students.

What motivated the bill?

Through the years, there have been a couple of attempts to try and incorporate personal finance lessons in the school curriculum. In fact, in 2006, the state Department of Public Instructions set up standards that students should learn about money and personal finance. As a result, many districts took the initiative and teachers started receiving specialized training to help them work personal finance education into units such as social studies and mathematics. In fact, a survey carried out indicated that in more than 100 schools, youths are presented with the opportunity to learn through experiencing real-life financial situations.

Unfortunately, some schools are still lagging behind and have not yet taken the necessary measures to help improve their financial literacy efforts and supporters of the bill are afraid that some students might be left out.

So, what’s the progress?

Scott Krug, one of the bill’s co-author, pointed out that 74% of the total state’s schools, 400 district schools have embraced the change and integrated personal financial lessons across the syllabus at some level with 60% of these schools offering financial literacyin kindergarten and middle school.However, there have been a few disagreements between educators since some believe that the legislature is adding yet another unfunded responsibility on them. Due to this reason, the Wisconsin
Association of School boards decided to remain neutral concerning Jason Field’s and Scott Krug’s financial literacy legislation. Moreover, the legislation is not clear on how financial lessons should be implemented in each district.

Districts can choose how they can best incorporate financial education into their curriculum to help solve the problem of financial imposition on educators. For instance, a district could decide to use programs that have already been set up by the bankers association while other could choose programs being used by other school districts. Dan Rossmiller noted that the flexibility provided ensures that districts with less revenue and few resources don’t feel the teaching obligation as a financial imposition.

Overview of financial lessons for middle school students

When teaching middle schoolers about personal finance, teachers don’t need to go into in-depth information. That is why math can be a great tool to help educators introduce their students to financial literacy. For example, a teacher could ask mathematics questions that are based on money or even use hands-on approaches. This way, students will automatically associate smart financial decisions with correct math solutions. Introductory lessons should be fun and captivating to make sure the students actually pay attention.

Overview of financial literacy for high school students

High school students have a better understanding of money and how the society works. Therefore, educators can use a more straightforward approach to teach. Here is an overview of financial literacy for high school students.

• Lesson 1-Decision making

• Lesson 2- Making money

• Lesson 3- Budgeting

• Lesson 4- Living on your own

• Lesson 5- Buying a home

• Lesson 6 – Banking services

• Lesson 7 – Credit cards

• Lesson 9 -Cars and loans

• Lesson 10 -Influence of advertising

• Lesson 11 – Consumer awareness

• Lesson 12 – Saving and investing

• Lesson 13 – In trouble

• Lesson 14 – Consumer privacy

However, these lessons are not fixed and might vary depending on the district or the program that the school decided to follow.

Bottom line

Though the financial literacy bill was passed with bipartisan support, some members of the state government are still not on board. The speaker, Tom, McCarthy outlined that though the Department of Public Instruction is encouraging the growth of financial literacy in Wisconsin schools, it still has to revise some of the proposed requirements. On the other hand, a pretty optimistic Semmann said that if the bill becomes law, then it would ensure that students are provided with information that will help them have and keep a sustainable future.

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