Reviews | Personal Financial Education Is Good, But It’s Not Enough

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Regarding the June 13 editorial “A worthwhile demand”:

We applaud the Post’s recommendation of financial courses for all high school students. However, the disconnect between school and the world of work is a much larger issue, requiring transformational change. Nationally, 15% of secondary school students not graduating on time, while 60 percent community college students and 40 percent of four-year college students do not complete within six years. As retired educators, we have witnessed dysfunction and its victims all our lives.

To help all students, schools should provide diverse and specialized training for the demands of vastly different adult careers. For example, different financial classes are necessary for future investment bankers and future carpenters. We are proposing a Career-Education Alignment Commission to determine what changes are needed to help those who are now being left behind succeed.

Students will be expected to explore their interests through project-based learning, starting in year two, to discover by age 15 a career path for which they can have a passion. And the students will need daily supervision, before they fall behind, to master the academic skills necessary for the various specialties. And the school day should be expanded to include both activities. The commission would identify the changes needed, as well as the funding and training needed to make it a success.

William Berkson, Rest on and Guillaume Schillig, Rest on

As an economics educator, I applaud the Post’s position that personal finance education should be mandatory in all US states. However, what often happens is that the imposition of personal finance programs pushes back the teaching of economics. Instead, personal finance should be taught as the practical application of understanding economics. We need to help students understand:

• Unintended consequences of ill-informed decisions and policies

• Cost/benefit analysis and how to apply it to personal finance decisions

• Career choice and investment in human capital

• Unemployment and how investing in human capital can help protect people to some extent against unemployment

• Inflation and real and nominal interest rates

• How we measure the economy because real gross domestic product per capita is used as a proxy for standard of living

• Fiscal and monetary policy and their impact on household budgets, savings, spending and investment decisions

• Involvement of taxation on decision-making

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (along with other Reserve Banks) offers a wide variety of free, hands-on courses and resources for teachers to incorporate economics, including personal finance, into their life plans. course at stlouisfed.org/education. Our students, especially the most vulnerable, need the financial literacy to navigate our economy and ensure their financial stability.

Married follower, Chesterfield, Mo.

The author is head of economic education at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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