Florida students need “The Money Course”, says coalition of ‘economic heavyweights’

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A coalition of economic heavyweights including the Florida Council on Economic Education (FCEE), Florida Bankers Association, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, today released a report concluding that Florida students need a required “Money Course” in real-world money management to get ahead and stay ahead following graduation. 

“Educating the next generation is one of the most important things we can do to ensure the future prosperity of our state,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. “Teaching today’s youth about the fundamentals of money management will set them on a course for a lifetime of wise financial decision-making.” 

The report, “A Call for Education,” stems from a summit attended by Florida Commissioner of Education Pamela Stewart, Florida Senate Education Committee Chair Senator John Legg, and praised by Florida Speaker of the House Will Weatherford and others. 

“I would tell you that the time is now… our global economy is such that we have an even greater opportunity and need for financial literacy,” keynote speaker Commissioner Stewart said during the summit. 

A recent study by the Council for Economic Education found that students in states with required financial education course are more likely to save, pay off their credit cards, and take average financial risks, and less likely to be compulsive buyers, max out credit, or make late payments compared to students in other states. 

“Our economy depends on the ability of young Floridians to responsibly manage and grow their money into adulthood,” said FCEE Executive Director Mike Bell. “Requiring The Money Course to be taught as a half credit course in high school will keep Florida competitive and grow our economy.” 

An excerpt from the report, authored by Lesley Mace, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: 

Financial literacy is more than something that we would like for our students to know about— it is an essential skill crucial to their future success in life. If we don’t act, the next generation will not be the only ones to feel the cost: businesses, employers, government, and ultimately the economy will suffer if young people are unable to navigate their way through the world of personal finance. Research shows that a course in financial literacy, particularly when paired with testing for accountability, definitely results in improved outcomes in student behavior when managing money. Several states have already implemented successful programs that can serve as a model for Florida. With the wealth of organizations throughout the state already prepared to provide curriculum and training at little to no cost, the barriers to implementing the course are few. If all Florida students leave school equipped with a solid standards-based personal finance course, supported by teacher training and course assessment, the next generation of Floridians will have the tools they need to manage their money, the knowledge necessary to achieve their financial goals from college to retirement, and the ability to be productive employees and contributors to the state’s economy. Evidence from the summit’s speakers provided ample proof of Commissioner Stewart’s opening statement: this is important, and it is important that we get this right. 

The push for a required course has intensified following legislation passed earlier this year to determine the cost of a required financial literacy course. A report from the Department of Education is expected by October 1.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.