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Personal finance needs to be a high school elective

By Staff | May 29, 2020

Why should every high school student in America take personal finance before graduation? Because personal finance isn’t an elective in life!

Our state legislators have allowed only two weeks of personal finance education to be embedded in high school civics classes. That’s all! But those weeks aren’t enforced. Is there anyone reading this who can honestly say that they learned about banking, mortgages, loans, insurance, investing, taxes, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, CDs, IRAs, compounded interest, real estate, etc. in two weeks? Are civics teachers even trained thoroughly in the subject? Our children deserve one class that will prevent them from living in debt, experiencing credit fraud and exploitation, insurance scams, real estate foreclosures, etc. The state treasurer thinks enough about teaching adults personal finance that he has an entire page dedicated to it, wvtreasury.com/Education/Personal-Finance.

Some county school boards have made personal finance an elective. But the few that do tend to offer a watered-down version geared towards students with severe disabilities. My children, who graduated from Jefferson County Schools, weren’t able to take a personal finance class. I believe that all students ought to be required to pass at least .5 credit of personal finance before graduation. Otherwise, they will be forced to learn the hard way about personal finance.

During my free time, while teaching full-time, I spend nine months last year working with our state legislators to create and pass a bill that would require students to learn personal finance. I found companies willing to donate all the curriculum and teacher training. These representatives, along with the WVU finance department chair, provided testimony at our state capital to their commitment to providing free teacher training and curriculums. The bill passed the House 100 to eight, but ultimately failed to move in the Senate.

This year, I plan to work even harder to encourage the passing of a bill requiring that our students learn these much-needed practical skills. Additionally, if I am elected to the local school board, I will advocate for at least offering personal finance as an elective at our high schools, until the state code catches up.

Donna Joy, Jefferson County Board of Education candidate