Education committee plans to add personal finance training for students

The education committee heard testimony on February 1 on two bills aimed at improving the personal finance skills of Nebraska students.

Under LB327, introduced by Senator Julie Slama of Peru, students must take at least half an hour of credit from a personal finance or financial literacy course before graduation, starting in the year school 2022-2023.

“Without requiring all students to have a basic understanding of personal finance,” she said, “we are risking the financial future of our young people.”

LB452, introduced by Omaha Senator Terrell McKinney, would require each school district to create a financial literacy curriculum and incorporate it into their K-12 curriculum.

The proposed programs would be based on guidelines developed by the state Department of Education and would teach knowledge and skills related to budgeting, credit, checking and savings accounts, loans, stocks and insurance.

McKinney said many young people in Nebraska “build their boats while they sail,” learning about personal finance by trial and error. LB452 would ensure that all students receive an education in financial literacy, outlined in state social studies standards, as early as possible, he said.

“It is simply unfair and negligent to expect 17 and 18 year old high school graduates to thrive economically after graduation without prior preparation,” McKinney said.

LB452 would require each district to annually submit proof to the ministry that it is teaching students financial literacy in accordance with the provisions of the bill. Districts that do not provide a financial literacy program or the required annual proofs to the department would lose their accreditation status.

In addition, the department would collect data on the programs, assess their effectiveness, and report this information to the legislature and the State Board of Education.

Richard Baier testified in favor of both bills on behalf of the Nebraska Bankers Association. Although Nebraska’s social studies standards already include material on financial literacy and economics, he said, these subjects are only a small part of the curriculum and “get lost in the classroom. shuffle ”in many school districts.

State Treasurer John Murante also testified in support of the two bills, saying inconsistent teaching of basic financial skills in Nebraska high schools means some graduates lack basic financial literacy.

“This is a topic… that every graduate will have to deal with every day of their life,” he said, “and everyone has to be on an equal footing. “

Jennifer Davidson, president of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education, also supported the two proposals. Research has shown that requiring students to take a high school financial literacy course leads to improved credit scores, reduced delinquency, and better student loan borrowing decisions, she said. declared.

Schools in Nebraska are required to teach economics and personal finance, Davidson said, but the material can be included in other courses, and schools are not required to have a dedicated economics course. or personal finance.

A 2018 study she conducted found that 95 of Nebraska’s 244 school districts required a personal finance course for graduation, 210 offered such a course, and 34 did not offer a personal finance course at graduation. a semester, Davidson said.

Corey Gardner, a Kimball Public School Elder, testified on behalf of LB327. During a recent career education and personal finance class, he said, his classmates struggled to take classes on getting loans, budgeting and producing money. tax returns.

“I realized that – in just a few months – we were all going to go to college or join the workforce,” Gardner said, “and neither of us were prepared.”

Colby Coash testified in writing against LB327 on behalf of the Nebraska Association of School Boards. He said the bill was unnecessary because the state’s Department of Education had previously described financial literacy in its social studies standards and many schools already require a financial literacy course as a condition of it. ‘Graduation.

The committee took no immediate action on either bill.

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