On Tuesday, March 28, in the House Education and Career Readiness Committee, Brandon Ogden, Director of the Ohio Small Business Council testified in support of House Bill 108. This legislation would require high school students to complete a semester course in financial literacy prior to graduation. During the last General Assembly, a similar bill was introduced (HB 383) but stalled during lame-duck in the Senate Education Committee.
As a result of their growing support for the legislation, the Ohio Chamber’s Education and Workforce Development Committee has included financial literacy as one of their public policy priorities for the 132nd General Assembly. The reason being, employers are reporting that employees with no formal financial literacy education face severe personal and professional hurdles. For example, employers have stated that employees in financial distress tend to miss more work, ask for advances on their paychecks, decline enrollment into company matched retirement plans and even drop insurance coverage.
Education and Career Readiness Committee members all agreed that financial literacy was important for students of all ages. However, during the hearing members of the committee asked the bill’s proponents questions related to the level of control that local schools would retain. The fact is, high school principals would have the control to determine specifically who can teach the course and whether to give credit for financial literacy within the existing social studies or the elective credit requirement.
Some legislators on the committee were unaware that financial literacy is currently a high school graduation requirement. However, in most cases it is being taught with a piece meal approach with little-to-no certainty that students are getting value from the material. HB 108 will provide much needed consistency of financial literacy education throughout Ohio’s high schools.