From The Executive Director’s Desk: The State of Financial Literacy: Are We Failing Our Youth?
“From the Executive Director’s Desk” is a monthly column written by CARE’s Executive Director, Anna Flores, about various Financial Literacy topics and CARE news. This month, Anna writes about the state of financial literacy.
I’ve worked in the financial education field for over 15 years and, with a few notable exceptions, have yet to read a study or report indicating that our efforts to educate young people in this country with basic personal financial management skills have met with widespread success. Quite the contrary.
CEE’s Biennial “Survey of the States”
Earlier this year, the Council for Economic Education released its biennial “Survey of the States”. The survey, first conducted in 1998, takes a comprehensive look at the state of K-12 economic and financial education in the United States. By collecting data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the survey attempts to measure the progress our country has made in the financial education of our youth.
Unfortunately, this year’s results reflect no growth in personal finance education and little improvement in economic education.
Its’ key findings indicate that:
- Since 2016, no additional states have added personal finance to their K-12 standards or requirements.
- Only 1/3 of states require their students to graduate having taken a personal finance class.
- While policymakers and the public regularly call for us to do better as a nation, those calls are not translating into real legislative change.
- Few states ensure that robust testing accompanies classroom instruction.
The Good, The Bad, The What’s Next for Financial Literacy
The bad news is, yes, we are failing our children. The good news is that we haven’t given up. There are numerous initiatives underway across the country inside and outside of the classroom to ensure young people are educated with the personal financial management skills they’ll need to make sound financial management decisions.
You too can be an advocate for youth in your state by encouraging your legislators and policymakers to mandate the teaching of personal finance as a requirement for graduation. Support nonprofit organizations that are leading the way in the advocacy and education arena including CARE, the Council for Economic Education, the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, Junior Achievement, Operation Hope and many others.
You can support CARE by signing up as a volunteer or making a donation to help us further our mission. If you’re a teacher or educator, you can request a CARE presentation for your school or youth-serving organization. Visit our website, care4yourfuture.org, to get more details on how you can help.
About the Author
Anna Flores joined CARE as its first Executive Director in 2015 and helped to bring the organization into official 501(c)(3) status. Previously, Anna worked as a VP for American Express and has years of experience working with volunteer-driven organizations throughout the Washington, D.C. area.