Why CA schools should require a personal finance class

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In summary

A proponent of a ballot initiative that would make personal finance a graduation requirement for California high schools says the courses would enhance, not detract from, core subjects.

Guest Commentary written by

Yanely Espinal

Yanely Espinal

Yanely Espinal is the author of “Mind Your Money” and director of educational outreach at Next Gen Personal Finance.

Re: “California keeps expanding school curricula. What about improving key subjects?“

I strongly believe that the California Personal Finance Education Initiative, an effort to make personal finance a high school graduation requirement, will add to basic education, and is a beacon of commonsense and nonpartisan wisdom in California. 

Guaranteeing a personal finance course enhances, rather than detracts from, key subjects like math and reading. The proposed initiative not only addresses the engagement gap but also provides real-world applications for foundational skills. Financial literacy is crucial for long-term success in life, and understanding credit, budgeting and responsible borrowing require careful reading and develop students’ critical thinking – a skill set beyond basic reading comprehension.

This is a matter of social justice and practical necessity, too. This effort aims to provide every high school student with a semester-long personal finance class no matter where they live, what their background is or how much income their family earns.

A recent “report card” from the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College gave California an ‘F’ in financial literacy. Every child in California deserves to have equal and guaranteed access to the knowledge and tools needed to succeed in life.

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