Residents of North Central Florida are optimistic about the potential impacts of a new law requiring a personal finance class for graduation.
Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed the measure that will require high school students to take a half-credit course in personal finance before graduation.
The law aims to address a lack of financial literacy in the state, as well as prepare students for the tough economic challenges that may await them. The requirement will come into effect for ninth-graders entering the 2023-2024 school year.
“I think I could have used a class like this in high school,” said Putnam County resident Jenn Pearce. “When I came out of high school, there was no finance class that prepared me for the real world. I struggled. I ran into a lot of credit card debt. I was audited once in twenties because I screwed up something in my taxes. It was a lot of trial and error.
By law, the new personal finance class would teach financial skills such as balancing a checkbook, filling out loan applications, calculating interest rates, challenging incorrect billing statements and calculating federal income tax. Income. It also asks for instructions on understanding the types of investments and types of bank accounts offered.
The law made Florida the 11th state to adopt a financial literacy requirement as a standalone course, according to CNBC.
Duane Hayslett, 41, said he tried to teach basic financial concepts to his two daughters, who both attend Buchholz High School in Gainesville.
“I went to co-sign a lease for my daughter, and she didn’t know much about co-signing or anything like that,” Hayslett said. He said he thought a financial literacy course would be very helpful.
“It should be something that gives them the opportunity to get a sense of what to expect when they go out on their own,” Hayslett said.
Scott Chapman, 40, of Cedar Key, said he is happy his daughters, who are 8 and 11, are benefiting from the change.
“I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” Chapman said. “Because the last few years, honestly, it seems like ‘go rack up $150,000 in student debt, then calculate it and pay it off anytime – with interest. You weren’t taught that at all. school.
Chapman bought and sold businesses throughout his life and attributed his success to his solid understanding of financial planning. He said he was teaching his daughters to save – for example, allowing them to earn their own money walking their dog – a structured course would help them learn the basics, like what a credit score is and why it is important.
The new personal finance class will replace an elective, changing the graduation requirement from eight elective credits to 7½.
The logistics of how the law will actually take shape in classrooms will be worked out as the state provides more information about curriculum standards, according to Jackie Johnson, director of communications for the County Public Schools District. ‘Alachua.
Johnson said the board doesn’t have much of a concern about that, other than making sure there are enough qualified staff to teach those courses.
“It’s still a concern that 67 districts are all looking for qualified teachers to teach financial literacy at the exact same time,” she said.
Alachua County School Board member Mildred Russell said she sees no need to hire additional staff because of the many financial literacy programs already in place.
They include Buchholz High’s Academy of Entrepreneurship, which currently offers an extensive curriculum in personal finance and business development as part of its Magnet program.
Wendy Rosche, a teacher on the program, said she was willing to help implement these changes as they arise and would like to teach a personal finance class if she has space. in his schedule.
“For me, it’s not just about budgeting; it’s really about career readiness,” she said. “It’s the whole picture of taking your next step in life and thinking, ‘What do you want? What are your values? »
Rosche said she helps orchestrate student participation in Junior Achievement, a program in which high school students visit local elementary schools to teach them financial concepts.
“I think kids still find it relevant,” she said. “They want to learn how to manage money. I’ve never seen a class that didn’t like learning financial literacy.
Rosche said she hopes the class will also help teens considering going to college make wise financial choices in the schools they choose in terms of tuition and housing. The average student loan debt in Florida was $38,160 in 2020, according to Education Data Initiative.
“We have a lot of people and a lot of resources to provide that for our kids,” Rosche said. “I am optimistic.”