Across the country, states are starting to look into and introducing requirements for students to take financial literacy courses in high school. But not all states are there yet. Financial skills are something that is briefly touched on in some schools and quickly skirted past in other schools even though they are necessary tools we should be equipping our students with every day. Illinois is not among the states having implemented this requirement but it could be worthwhile studying and implementing because empowering Illinois kids with financial acumen could pay dividends for them as adults, as well as the State of Illinois, down the line.
Financial literacy is the ability to complete and understand basic financial activities. These functions could be things like balancing a checkbook, understand credit card APRs and other types of interest rates, learning simple budgeting principles and the benefits of saving.
These things are all important for new adults to know as they strike out on their own but so many nowadays come up short. When students leave the home, go to college and start living on their own, they are quickly bombarded with the realities of financial decisions and without the proper education of wise practices, we are not setting them up for success.
Many states have started looking at their school curriculums and some have made financial literacy courses or assessments necessary for student’s graduation, giving them a headstart on the ability to accurately and confidently manage their own finances. Florida and South Carolina are the most recent states to add this class to their requirements. Should Illinois follow suit?
Econ Illinois is an initiative here that champions the education of children in economics and the understanding of basic financial concepts. They teach things such as the importance of good credit scores and the overall responsibility you need to have with your money. Savings is another piece of the financial puzzle that they aim to educate children about. Besides teaching themselves, Econ Illinois also work to equip everyday teachers with the tools that they need to incorporate economics and finance education into their classroom.
There are many negative economical ramifications that can result from poor financial literacy training. Elevated consumer debt, low credit scores, and other negative outcomes can result from a lack of proper money management education. In sum, this is an area ripe for reform.
Whether Illinois should join the group of states that are implementing a requirement for financial involves more than simple need, however. This is because the graduation requirements, or educational mandates, in Illinois is already a bit crowded. Illinois has significant curriculum mandates, most recently adding a civics class to the list of graduation requirements. That said, it appears clear economic and/or financial literacy improvement is badly needed in the Land of Lincoln where the State and many of its municipalities, especially Chicago and Cook County, are on the brink of insolvency! Far better financial acumen is needed now more than ever in Illinois, so perhaps the time is right to implement a program to improve the financial IQ of our citizens … for our collective benefit. What do you think?