A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Bank of America shows that 99 percent of adults feels that personal finance should be taught in high schools. But only four states mandate a stand-alone class that is solely dedicated personal finance.
TIME magazine contributor and author Dan Kadlec says that one reason that all high school students are not receiving courses in personal finance is that the idea financial education is a relatively new one. “Twenty years ago, this term financial literacy [or] financial education barely even existed. It’s only in the last really five years since the recession that the policymakers and leaders have decided we need better personal finance education to safeguard against another meltdown,” he says.
Kadlec states that the lack of access to financial education in high schools is not due to a lack of curriculum, but to an overabundance of educational resources with no central focus. “There’s not a lot of continuity to the programs. A lot of it is regional or local. What we don’t have is any real national leadership,” Kadlec says.
According to Kadlec, other countries are implementing mandatory financial education in schools and the key to getting these courses in American schools hinges on the states creating a cohesive strategy with support from the federal government.
“It’s a global thing and we are not getting there largely because education is dealt with at the state level,” he says.”The states are thinking about it [and] they want to do it, but it’s really hard to get them all together with a common initiative.”