July 26, 2011
BOSTON – Financial literacy legislation sponsored by State Senator Jamie Eldridge was given a favorable report today by the Joint Committee on Education. Senate Bill 204, “An Act Relative to Financial Literacy in Schools,” would require that personal financial literacy be taught at all schools in the Commonwealth.
“Today’s youth are bombarded with a multitude of financial options and responsibilities at an increasingly young age, yet many are ill-equipped to make informed decisions about financial matters. By teaching children the financial education basics in school, we will help them make educated financial decisions in the future, preventing future bankruptcies, foreclosures, and unmanageable debt. The investment we make in teaching our children financial literacy now will pay substantial future dividends,” said Eldridge.
“It should be our goal that every child graduating from a Massachusetts public school has the skills they need to be successful – and knowing how to manage money effectively and make smart, well-informed financial decisions are among the most important life skills our students will need. That’s why this bill is so important, and why the Education Committee is giving it a favorable report today,” said State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education.
“The goal of providing a better and more comprehensive education to our students in the Commonwealth took a major step forward today with the favorable report from the Committee on Education for the financial literacy bill,” added State Senator Barry Finegold, a strong supporter of financial literacy and a sponsor of a similar bill this session. “I can’t stress enough the importance of equipping our students with the tools they need to be financially aware—their futures depend on it. Financial education will lead to a more-informed public and a healthier economy as a whole.”
The bill would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to develop standards and objectives to be used in the mathematics curriculum for personal financial literacy for grades K-12. This would include information on loans, borrowing money, interest, credit card debt, online commerce, rights and responsibilities of renting or buying a home, saving, investing and planning for retirement, and banking and financial services.
The legislation was given unanimous approval by the Senate last session, but unfortunately was not taken up in time by the House of Representatives. At least thirteen states now require students to take a personal finance course or personal finance included in an economics course as a high school graduation requirement.
In June 2009, the Asset Development Commission released a report recommending that the Legislature implement financial education in schools to better prepare youth for the financial decisions of the future. The Commission, which Eldridge chaired, was charged with studying what it mean to be low-to-moderate income in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, what help the state provides in moving families up the economic ladder, and what barriers are standing in their way.