Financial Literacy a Graduation Must

Ohio’s business community has been concerned about the overall lack of knowledge and judgment many consumers exhibit in financial matters. Consequently, we have investigated how school districts across the state have taught financial literacy over the past decade. The answer seems to be that, although financial literacy and personal finance instruction is available as an elective in many districts’ curriculums, too many are not teaching it as a stand-alone course with a trained instructor.

At best, students currently receive varying instruction in financial literacy depending on the decisions of their individual school districts.  Some schools teach financial literacy as part of a math lesson, whereas others teach it in Social Studies courses. Some even included financial literacy as part of a wellness program taught by health teachers.

We believe this is much too haphazard an approach and explains, at least in part, why far too many students are ill-prepared to make sound and prudent financial decisions later in life.

In an effort to alleviate these concerns, the business community is backing House Bill 383. This legislation would make a one-semester course in financial literacy a high school graduation requirement. This one-half credit for financial literacy is not in addition to the current requirements, but instead reduces the number of electives needed for graduation from 5.0 to 4.5.

HB 383 would bring a much-needed level of consistency to financial literacy instruction. In addition to uniformity, the legislation would create more focused instruction through a properly prepared and licensed teacher, resulting in increased understanding of financial concepts such as credit, debt, risk, investments and compound interest, to name a few.

The bill has passed the House and is now on to the Senate.  The Ohio Chamber believes the relatively small change in the requirements necessary for high school graduation contained in HB 383 will pay large dividends in the future for Ohio businesses, the consumers that purchase their products and services, the families that avoid burdensome debt and, ultimately, the state as a whole.