Financial Feud: Financial Literacy

Financial Feud

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In Dispute:

Financial Literacy

The Argument:

Is teaching financial literacy worth it? 39 states now have financial curriculum standards in their schools, which means, there's a new teacher in town. We can all agree that we need to know more about our finances, but there's a lot of debate on just how much value there is in financial education.WHO'S RIGHT?

Expert Opinion:

Financial Feud

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The Argument:

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Is teaching financial literacy worth it? 39 states now have financial curriculum standards in their schools, which means, there's a new teacher in town. We can all agree that we need to know more about our finances, but there's a lot of debate on just how much value there is in financial education.WHO'S RIGHT?

Helaine Olen says: 

"Coming out against financial literacy is like coming out against apple pie. What on earth could be wrong about learning about your finances, right? But in fact, what I learned when I looked at it very carefully, that financially literacy had simply become a very personal way of attempting to solve what is essentially an economic and polical problem. Which is that the financial marketplace has become extremely complicated in the last 30-40 years. And at the same time, our ability to keep up financially has fallen behind, with income stagnantion and inequality"

"I think these efforts are helpful, but I think they miss the bigger point, and the bigger point is this: We've been thrown out there, almost defenseless, and we're being told, 'you can master all of this.' And some people can, but many can't, and many can't because of things that aren't their fault. We need to look at the financial structure"

Dan Kadlec says: 

"Long-term, I think people need to be able to fend for themselves. This notion of 'just-in-time' education sounds nice, but it's really more problematic than teaching financial education. The time to learn about mortgages isn't when you're sitting down to sign the document, that would be just-in-time. The time is when you start thinking about buying a house, so that you know what houses you should even be looking at. The long-term solution: Start [teaching financial literacy] in Kindergarten, make it mandatory through 12th grade. Teach it as either part of other courses or as a standalone course, but teach it every year and build year after year as you do with any other subject."

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About the author

Helaine Olen is an essayist and author of book "Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry."

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