Measure targets financial literacy
If a new bill co-sponsored by state Sen. Rick Horner, R-Nash, makes it through the General Assembly, high school students may soon be required to pass a financial literacy course to graduate.
Senate Bill 134, the Economics & Financial Literacy Act, was filed last week and announced by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest as a show of support that would, if approved, require all public high school students to successfully complete an economics and financial literacy course prior to high school graduation.
“This is one of the most needed subjects in the state,” Horner said. “A lot of adults in the state don’t understand how credit works or how to handle a check book. Not everyone’s parent is a financial genius, and this is a tough thing to learn on your own. So we need to be teaching it in school.”
Though the State Board of Education would need to design the course, the legislation specifies that the course must align with the second edition of the Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics and the 2013 National Standards for Financial Literacy as developed by the Council for Economic Education.
The measure also specifies that the course will cover topics including “the true cost of credit; choosing and managing a credit card; borrowing money for an automobile or other large purchase; home mortgages, credit scoring and credit reports; planning and paying for post-secondary education; and other relevant financial literacy issues.”
“The course will cover college financing because many students get themselves into incredible debt for college when they could cut those costs with strategies such as taking some of the classes at the local community college,” Horner said.
Horner also said the class could change the way some students view math. Learning about personal finance changed his own perspective about the subject, he said.
“I was never a great math student until I learned to apply financial methods. And as anyone who served with me on the Nash-Rocky Mount school board can tell you, I was the one who was known for looking at the finances of every situation. I am absolutely convinced that students will change their attitudes toward math when they see how it affects their own lives,” Horner said. “We can’t leave a subject like this up to chance.”
The bill also would require that teachers of the course take professional development classes and pass a Test of Economic Literacy and the Working in Support of Education personal finance test before teaching the course. In order to accomplish this, the bill would make an appropriation of $1,063,800 to the N.C. Council on Economic Education as a “grant-in-aid to provide for completion of the professional development course required in Section 3 of this act for teachers of the high school course in Economics and Personal Finance. ‘’
Horner said the course would not only help students on a personal level with their finances but also help them to better understand the impact of spending more money than a person, family or organization takes in.
“This actually ought to be a required course for all elected officials,” he said.