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Tightening the Belt

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Most middle- and high-schoolers may know algebra, but can they balance a checkbook? Or compare prices? Or even earn money? “They’re purchasing a lot of their immediate wants, not practicing delayed gratification,” says one high school business teacher. “They don’t think about the long-term effects of their spending.” Because those effects include unmanageable credit-card debt and bankruptcy, some schools insist that students become financially literate. They’re a minority, though: Of the 38 states that, in 2004, included personal finance in curriculum standards, only eight required a course with such content. Leading the way is Utah, where Gayle Whitefield, business department chair at Riverton High School, says that, before her course begins, 75 percent of students say they don’t have a savings account or know if one has been set up for them. So Whitefield sends a letter home, asking parents to engage in financial conversations with their kids as the students go on a financial “diet” via comparison-shopping and investment exercises. At Newfound Regional High in New Hampshire, Laura Miller has realtors and bankruptcy lawyers talk to her class, which also learns money-management skills. “By the time it ends,” she says, “they have a pretty good foundation about financial goals and how to not get into trouble with credit.”

4 Comments

Aren't kids required to take an Economics class. When I took Economics, budgeting was part of the curriculum.

One Economics class as a Junior or Senior is not enough. Financial management should be an Academic Content Standard for all grades. It is not. I do some budget projects under the standard of "computation with real numbers"

As a Business Teacher in a school that does require Economics but not Personal Finance, I would have to agree that Economics is not enough. During spreadsheet units, students don't even know what deductions are that are taken out of paychecks and what that money is used for and what they could get back from filing taxes. Students learn best with repetition, they should take both.

hello,

i think this is the case with all the things students learn at least in my country [india]. students learn not to apply what they learn. in fact they hate the basics - reading, writing and calculating!!!

mahalaxmi

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  • mahalaxmi: hello, i think this is the case with all the read more
  • Brenda: As a Business Teacher in a school that does require read more
  • paul: One Economics class as a Junior or Senior is not read more
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