Of­fi­cials: Re­quire schools to teach per­sonal fi­nance

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BISSONNETTE jbis­son­[email protected]­tuck­et­times.com

PROV­I­DENCE – District 8 state Sen. San­dra C. Cano joined Gen­eral Trea­surer Seth Magaziner and District 19 state Rep. Joseph McNa­mara on Thursday to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion that seeks to ex­pand per­sonal fi­nance ed­u­ca­tion in the state’s pub­lic high schools.

The leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced on Thursday by Magaziner, Cano, and McNa­mara – the Chair­man of the Health, Ed­u­ca­tion and Wel­fare Com­mit­tee – would re­quire all pub­lic high schools to of­fer a class that in­cludes per­sonal fi­nance be­gin­ning in the 2019-2020 school year, and would re­quire stu­dents to demon­strate pro­fi­ciency in per­sonal fi­nance by the 2021-2022 school year.

“Thirty-six states guar­an­tee stu­dents ac­cess to per­sonal fi­nance ed­u­ca­tion in their pub­lic schools, but Rhode Is­land does not,” Magaziner said. “Fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion is vi­tal in set­ting young peo­ple up for suc­cess in life, and Rhode Is­land has fallen be­hind in of­fer­ing fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion in our schools.”

“We are let­ting our chil­dren down by not teach­ing them the most im­por­tant and most needed skill in adult­hood - fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy,” Cano said. “With­out ad­e­quate fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy, our grad­u­at­ing stu­dents are put at a dis­tinct dis­ad­van­tage in start­ing their adult lives.”

“This must end for the sake of our stu­dents and I am look­ing for­ward to work­ing with Trea­surer Magaziner to en­sure Rhode Is­land’s kids get the fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion that will ben­e­fit them so much later in life,” Cano added.

“All adults should pos­sess the skills nec­es­sary to man­age their money wisely,” McNa­mara added. “Not know­ing the ba­sics can lead to a web of bad credit and poor fi- nan­cial de­ci­sions. A high school diploma be­comes a lot more valu­able when it comes along with the abil­ity to man­age per­sonal fi­nances and avoid a life­time of debt.”

The statewide stan­dard that would be es­tab­lished by the bill would in­clude a cur­ricu­lum fo­cus­ing on bud­get­ing, main­tain­ing credit, sav­ing, in­vest­ing, and pro­tect­ing and in­sur­ing as­sets.

Ac­cord­ing to the House bill, Rhode Is­land’s col­lege grad­u­ates have the sec­ond-high­est stu­dent debt bur­den in the coun­try and the state’s rate of se­ri­ously delin­quent mort­gage loans is ninth-high­est in the na­tion. Mean­while, the state lags be­hind the re­gion in re­tire­ment sav­ings and has the sec­ond-high­est per­cent­age of un­banked house­holds in New

Eng­land.

A De­cem­ber 2018 re­port pub­lished by the Trea­surer’s of­fice out­lines the need for per­sonal fi­nance ed­u­ca­tion in Rhode Is­land schools.

“While only one-third of Rhode Is­land high school grad­u­ates are re­ceiv­ing per­sonal fi­nance in­struc­tion cur­rently, there is rea­son to be op­ti­mistic that with a thought­ful plan per­sonal fi­nance ed­u­ca­tion in Rhode Is­land schools can ex­pand dra­mat­i­cally,” the re­port states. “All but five Rhode Is­land pub­lic

high schools al­ready of­fer per­sonal fi­nance in­struc­tion on at least an elec­tive ba­sis, and mul­ti­ple free and low­cost re­sources al­ready ex­ist to as­sist ed­u­ca­tors in ex­pand­ing per­sonal fi­nance in­struc­tions in Rhode Is­land schools.”

Rec­om­men­da­tions from the re­port were or­ga­nized into four cat­e­gories: pro­vid­ing more re­sources for per­sonal fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tors; pro­vid­ing in­cen­tives to stu­dents to take per­sonal fi­nance elec­tives; pro­vid­ing in­cen­tives to schools to of­fer per­sonal fi­nance cour­ses; and im­prov­ing data col­lec­tion and re­port­ing on the state of per­sonal fi­nance ed­u­ca­tion in Rhode Is­land.

“Ev­ery Rhode Is­lander de­serves the op­por­tu­nity to achieve fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity and main­tain a fi­nan­cially

sta­ble life,” the re­port’s con­clu­sion reads. “Un­for­tu­nately, we know that Rhode Is­land is not do­ing enough to help pre­pare all its pub­lic school stu­dents with the same ba­sic set of fi­nan­cial skills that will help them de­velop strong fi­nan­cial habits and avoid costly mis­takes.”

“The need for in­creas­ing per­sonal fi­nance ed­u­ca­tion in the Ocean State is clear. Pro­vid­ing our stu­dents with the knowl­edge and skills to suc­cess­fully nav­i­gate com­plex fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions has proven to be an ef­fec­tive method of pro­duc­ing bet­ter fi­nan­cial out­comes,” the con­clu­sion con­tin­ues. “In the ab­sence of a ba­sic fi­nan­cial knowl­edge, our stu­dents are more likely to make poor de­ci­sions re­lat­ing stu­dent loans, credit cards, or pay­day loans that may cause dam­age to their fi­nan­cial fu­ture. We must do more to en­sure we are set­ting our chil­dren up for fi­nan­cial suc­cess – an effort that starts in our K-12 schools.”

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