Sunday, June 23, 2024

Education committee passes bill to require students take financial literacy course

by BIZ Magazine

By Jenna Bridges, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE — The House Education Committee advanced a bill Tuesday requiring high school students to take a financial literacy course starting with the 2026 and 2027 graduating classes.

State Superintendent Cade Brumley and State Treasurer John Schroder joined Rep. Nicholas Muscarello Jr., R-Hammond, to introduce the bill. It would integrate instruction in life skills with instruction in economics, including income and taxes, money management, investment and spending and the importance of personal savings.

“Financial illiteracy is an epidemic in the United States,” Rep. Muscarello said.

While the bill would require 11th and 12th grade students to take one unit of financial literacy, it would not create an additional course required for graduation. Instead, financial literacy would be worked into the pathway, acting as a replacement for a math course or an elective.

Brumley said that the social studies curriculum already integrates financial responsibility into civics courses and that financial literacy is already offered as an elective to high school students. This bill would ensure that every student took the new course before graduating.

Rep. Barbara Freiberg, R-Baton Rouge, questioned if requiring a year-long course would deter bright students from taking additional Advanced Placement or other high-level courses.

Brumley said that only about half of seniors have a full day of courses now.

Jessica Sharon, president of the Louisiana Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, spoke in favor of the bill.

 “Adding this requirement in high school is so important to help prepare students for the future,” Sharon said. She noted that the coalition would like to help bring in individuals to teach financial education in schools at no cost.

Rep. Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer, said he believes getting representatives of local financial institutions involved in teaching financial literacy could promote community buy-in.

Mike Faulk, executive director of Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, spoke in favor of the bill. But he expressed concerns about revamping the master course catalog for students in the 8th grade who have already begun planning their high school schedules.

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