The Florida Legislature recently passed legislation that instructs schools to create a semester long financial literacy course. Sounds good, at least at first blush. The hitch: It’s an elective. Worse, the same legislation eliminates the financial literacy component taught in required economics classes. The elective course should be mandatory.
Financial literacy is an important tool for everyone, particularly for teens leaving high school. They need to understand personal economics to ensure they don’t get in over their heads. Better yet, they should know enough to get ahead — the magic of compound interest, good versus bad debt, balancing a check book, how to save for retirement.
The college-bound kids will need to assess the pros and cons of student loans — how much to borrow, how long will it take to pay back. Too many don’t know all the factors that go into answering those questions. They sign loan documents; the regrets come later.
Others roll up credit card bills or get taken for a ride at the local car lot because they don’t have the financial skills to know better. High school kids don’t need to become cold-eyed accountants, but they should understand simple interest rate calculations and how to spot a financial scam.
Consumer debt recently passed $4 trillion. Everyone knows someone who is swamped with bills or fending off debt collectors. Bad luck plays a role, but so does a lack of financial acumen. Let’s change that. Lawmakers should double down and act next year to make financial literacy a high school requirement .