Improvement needed in Connecticut financial literacy education

For several years in a row, the state has received an “F” in K-12 financial education for students, which means, as stated in the grading criteria created by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy: “The state has virtually no requirements for personal finance education in high school. Many high school students in these states graduate from high school without ever having the opportunity to take a course that includes financial literacy instruction.”

State Senator L. Scott Frantz (R-Greenwich) attempted to introduce a bill aimed at improving financial education seven times over the past eight years. Recognizing the futility in proposing another iteration of the bill, he has opted to not try this year.

Considering Connecticut’s distinction as the state with the highest tax-supported debt per resident (which, granted, is a statistic very much affected by its small size and corresponding population), Governor Malloy and the state legislature should pay more attention to this issue. As the survey highlights, the opportunities for such financial literacy classes are scarce for Connecticut students.

This is disappointing because by the time children finish high school and make their way to college or the workforce, they often don’t have a strong idea of how to manage their finances. When factoring in financial ignorance with typical college and young adult spending behaviors, it makes these same people less prone to making wise decisions with their money.

Connecticut is just one of the statewide offenders. Only 20 states require high school students to take a course in economics, only 17 states mandate they take personal finance and only five require the latter subject for a semester’s worth of class. Connecticut direly needs to implement both of these courses into its curricula or risk preparing its youth for a significant disadvantage later on in their lives.

A good education is the foundation of a good life. Without a proper personal finance and economics education, students are at risk. As such, Connecticut should include some form of financial literacy training as part of school curricula to prepare students for life after graduation.