Preparing their students for a few test questions on personal finance shouldn’t be an undue burden for Kansas teachers.
The Kansas State Board of Education already is charged with developing objectives for personal financial literacy, but there is no requirement that personal finance questions be included on state assessment tests. A bill unanimously approved in the Kansas Senate and awaiting action in a House committee would add that requirement beginning in July 2012.
It seems like a reasonable request, but the legislation (SB 84) drew formal opposition from two groups: the Kansas National Education Association and the Kansas Community Financial Services Association.
It understandable that KNEA, which represents Kansas teachers, is hesitant to add anything to the state assessment standards that every student is expected to meet. There is a certain irony, however, in a KNEA representative’s assertion that now, during a budget crisis, is not the time to makes sure students are taught more about personal finance. Perhaps if more people had understood such issues as the consequences of credit card debt or adjustable-rate mortgages, at least some of the current economic crisis might be averted.
A search of the Internet failed to turn up a specific Web site for the Kansas Community Financial Services Association, but it’s reasonable to assume that the Kansas group is affiliated with the national organization by the same name, which is an association for payday lenders. One can only imagine why they might be opposed to people becoming more financially literate.
The bill that passed the Senate doesn’t make a personal finance course a high school graduation requirement. It would only require schools to teach basic finance, things like how to manage credit, save money and create a budget. These are life skills that all young people should have and apparently don’t always gain through their parents or other adults in their lives.
Including a few appropriate questions on state tests will make sure personal finance is a part of the school curriculum, perhaps as a unit in a required math class. It might be the most practical information many students take with them when they leave the classroom.