The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published recommendations to strengthen financial literacy in America. The report, made available online last week, focuses on the importance of early financial education and ensuring teachers and parents are prepared to teach about money.
The report proposed five recommendations to help young students understand the world of money:
1) Start early. Introduce key financial concepts throughout the K-12 school years. The CFPB encouraged states to make at least one financial education course a graduation requirement for high school students.
2) Test students on it. Include personal financial management questions in standardized tests to help cement the importance of financial principles.
3) Practice makes perfect. Provide opportunities throughout the K-12 years to practice money management through innovative, hands-on learning opportunities.
4) Learn before teaching. Create consistent opportunities and incentives for teachers to take financial education training with the intention of teaching financial management to their students.
5) Bring it home. Encourage parents and guardians to discuss what they’ve learned at home and provide them with the necessary tools to have money conversations with their children.
Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB, said the bureau believes today’s youth should not be left to repeat the financial mistakes of past generations.
“We are deeply committed to a vision of an America where everyone is financially educated,” he wrote in the introduction of the report "Transforming the Financial Lives of a Generation of Young Americans."
“But the challenges that confront us in achieving this goal are complex, varied, and significant. To face these challenges, we must see that people can learn financial management skills throughout life–in schools and in places of work and worship. But we should start where all good education starts – with our children.”
Dan Kadlec, a strategic adviser to the National Financial Educators Council and a financial journalist, wrote that he was excited by the CFPB’s endorsement of early financial education.
“These are important steps in raising a more financially confident next generation,” he wrote on Tuesday. “They correctly identify our biggest obstacles.”
Kadlec discussed the possible difficulties of implementing such a sweeping program because education in the U.S. is governed at the state level.
“It is unlikely we’ll ever have a federal mandate for K-12 financial education like that in the U.K. or Australia,” he said. “But most states have agreed to a common core initiative that dictates certain educational standards across state lines and which will be in force next year.”
Kadlec said the common core initiative, combined with new web resources such as moneyasyoulearn.org will help provide schools and parents with the tools to make financial education accessible.