Financial Literacy for All Young Americans
By: Amy Rosen
February 19, 2013
More than two years ago, I had the privilege of being asked by President Obama to serve as the Vice Chair on the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability and to chair its youth sub-committee. Today, Chairman Rogers and I were proud to present the Council's findings to the President.
From day one, most believed that integrating key financial knowledge into everyday classes at school empowered young people to connect school with opportunity and resulted in a deeper engagement in school. Therefore, we needed to find a strategy for a comprehensive approach to this issue. During our first year we had two telling breakthroughs:
The first was to work with Secretary Duncan's team and make sure that financial education was included in the international assessment study (PISA). We suspect that compared to other industrial nations, American youth are far less financially fit than their international peers. We are certain that the release of these findings will provide baseline data and an opportunity to shine light on the economic impact of this issue.
Secondly, Beth Kobliner, a member of our youth subcommittee, guided the work that resulted in a simple list of concepts that all children in America should know at specific ages. "Money as You Grow" was introduced at a Council meeting and made available for free over the web. With virtually no publicity, more than 600,000 people have accessed this tool and we are reminded how hungry families are for tools they can use with their children.
During year two of the Council's term, student loan debt in this country surpassed credit card debt. This led the Council to a new focus on the myriad of financial decisions our students have to make, including:
• how to pay for high college costs
• how to manage credit card bills
• decisions about their cell phone contracts and car loans
• what course of study will put them on the road to financial stability.
Working with Secretary Duncan's team, school leaders, and the authors of the common core, we realized that we were not going to make the necessary progress with kids, unless we integrated financial education into the common core. The adoption of the common core by 46 states and the District of Columbia provided a unique opportunity to deliver key financial knowledge to our children through everyday math and reading classes. We set out to make that a reality and our Money as You Learn initiative. I am pleased to report that all of this work, both in literacy and numeracy, is being compiled on an accessible web site including a set of tools to make this easy for teachers to use in their daily lessons.
Moving forward, we have to find the right place to house and continue this work and incentivize more research to validate its impact. Most importantly, we can now take advantage of the momentum this has generated to set high standards for all American children to graduate high school not only physically fit, but financially fit as well.
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