Personal Finance – Required Curriculum

mark tuminello personal finance high schoolOklahoma is going to see a strict new financial literacy law go into effect in May, requiring all high school students to pass a personal finance class before graduation.  Subject matter includes banking, investing, taxes, loans, insurance, and identity theft.  The scarily low levels of financial literacy makes this seem on the surface like a terrific idea.

But what if teachers lead students astray?

Daily Finance recently ran an article about the matter, and they take a decidedly firm stance that this law is a bad idea.  The fear is that in order to give enough information to make the course meaningful, the teachers run the risk of teaching beyond their qualifications.  Math teachers, English teachers, shop teachers – these professionals all have certifications, degrees, or relevant experience that gives them the proper insight to properly instruct.  Are high school teachers becoming certified in financial disciplines?  Will high schools hire financial instructors?  This all, ironically, brings about a real cost issue to the matter of instructing students about finance.

The director of the Economics Center has found that 82% of teachers do not feel qualified to teach these concepts.  It’s a real dilemma – who will teach a course if nobody knows about it?

With tightening budgets in school systems, teachers already feel that they aren’t receiving professional development for their existing work load, let alone an entirely new curriculum.  And there is the very real scenario where a teacher could be tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt and teaching students how to plan for their financial future.

Some Oklahoma schools are battling these fears with integrated courses.  Required course material is being embedded into their existing class offering – math, home economics, science, and other subjects will all be taking a bit of the workload.  In this way, they hope to require less training for each individual teacher, while highlighting the importance of personal finance in a greater way than a one-semester course would allow.  This integrated approach also allows students to see how the lessons of personal finance can be applied to a variety of real-world scenarios by a variety of teachers – this does seem to be a much stronger approach than a simple course with a final full of memorizable information.

Some schools are outsourcing expertise from professionals in their community.  The teacher, in these cases, serves more as a facilitator, bringing experts in to teach.  In this way, the community is utilized and a variety of approaches could be discussed.


from Mark Tuminello – newest post from the blog of Mark Tuminello

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s