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News & Tidbits: If It's Not Happening in School, Make Financial Education Happen in the Home

May 2, 2018

 

Stacy Rapacon has an excellent piece out in U.S. News this morning. Rapacon starts off by talking about the challenges facing schools as they strive to improve financial education. She interviews Christopher Caltabiano, chief program officer at the Council for Economic Education, who proposes a great solution.

 

[Caltabiano] adds, "changing curriculum takes time." On that front, at least, personal finance has an edge in that it can be integrated into courses that are already being taught, such as math and business. "There is the opportunity to take those classes and infuse financial literacy concepts in a way that students are getting the lessons, but teachers aren't being forced to completely blow up existing curriculum to be able to do so," he says.

 

This is a proposal I've often supported in the past few years. Glad to know that people in positions of influence are considering the same tactic.

 

But Rapacon goes further to tell parents that they don't need to wait for schools to get on it before making steps to teach their children in the home. Indeed, it may be even more effective coming from parents for some children.

 

In the meantime, you can work to promote your own children's financial literacy at home—and it could actually mean more to your kids than in-school lessons. Among young adults who received financial education in school, 34 percent said that what they learned from their parents had a greater influence on their money habits and behaviors, according to the T. Rowe Price Survey.

 

It's a terrific article, and I recommend you read the whole thing.

 

If I have any beef with the piece, it's that there's a strong underlying assumption that schools bear the highest responsibility to see that children are financially educated, followed by parents. I see things the other way around. Parents are ultimately responsible, and schools are instrumentalities that the parents lean on to help in the cultivation of their children's intellects.

 

Rapacon rightly points out that not all parents are well-suited to the task of teaching their children about money. She writes that "only 55 percent of adults in the U.S. give themselves an A or B grade when it comes to their knowledge of personal finance, according to the 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling."

 

My guess is that those grades are inflated. Even so, just because parents don't have the proper knowledge, they still have the ultimate responsibility. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of resources out there that parents can utilize. And, hopefully, there are an increasing number of people and institutions that desire to help those in greatest need.

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