I ran across an article today that I found kind of interesting.
Down in Miami, the county public school system has received a grant in the amount of $118,000 to fund classes that will place an emphasis on managing personal finances.
The article isn’t too lengthy, but essentially says that the funding will allow the county schools to create a new economics unit that will reach 18,000 students a year. This is definitely a substantial number of students and allows for the opportunity to teach youngsters about personal finance.
So right off the top, I’m like yeah! Awesome! But is it?
I am usually a pretty optimistic dude, but at the same time I have studied politics for a while a cannot help but wonder if this is going to have any real effects. Furthermore, what will this curriculum being taught look like.
$118,000 is a lot of money, but considering the whole Miami-Dade County school system, it’s not that much. If they do reach 18,000 students a year, the grant would roughly fund $6.56 per student reached. This is also before any possible supplies or administrative costs are deducted.
Now hopefully the schools will be able to use existing administrators and teachers for the curriculum implementation. It also would be beneficial if they have adapted to new technology and use the internet as a source for their information.
(The discussion about how much money is necessary for education and where it’s utility diminishes is a very tough one, with no real clear answer. So I will just hope this is enough to have an impact and not really delve into that can of worms.)
That also brings me to the most important question. What will this content be? Will it be the same thing young adults have been hearing their whole lives? Save 10% of your income work until 65, 67, etc. then retire, with the only difference this time is that the ears the advice falls upon will be high school students.
Or, maybe, possibly, please! The curriculum will include information on how major debt is a very dangerous thing and can have long term detrimental effects on your life. Maybe some of the information provided to the students will suggest that living below your means and having cash in the bank is cooler than having a Lexus with no gas and an empty savings.
Discussions on personal finance can get as complicated as you want but the groundwork is very simple. In fact, it is so simple that even a high school kid can understand it (not to belittle the intelligence of high school students, rather making a statement of simplicity). Spend less than you earn. After you have that down, pull out the spreadsheets and go buckwild!
What is also pretty interesting is that the grant money came from Discover Financial Services.
After a quick search, I am pretty sure this is the same Discover that also offers credit cards.
Now, I am not an anti credit card person. In fact, I think they can be pretty useful, but they can be abused. Heck, I have abused them, it’s easy. If you have, welcome to the club.
What I hope is that during these courses, or however the personal finance information will be presented to the students, the very real dangers of credit card debt will be discussed. The high rates associated with these cards are crushing to individuals with large amounts of debt. Not to mention that often times consumers have very little to show for the debt they have accumulated. At least other types of debt usually have something more substantial associated with them i.e. home, degree, etc.
I really think it is a good idea to bring in this type of education into the classroom. It is one of the most important parts of our lives but it is something that, in my opinion, is not addressed enough. Some people may say that it is the families place to teach their children about these sorts of things, and sure, in a perfect world I would agree. Unfortunately, the world is far from perfect and not everyone is blessed with the same support system growing up.
Hopefully projects like these will really make an effort to teach some valuable lessons to the students and not just reiterate the same old story that we have heard for so many years.