California to require high school financial literacy

When I was in junior high, most girls took home economics and most boys took shop. What I recall hearing about home ec is that it taught some cooking and sewing skills, and how to shop for food. It may have also taught how to balance a checkbook. I ended up learning those things on my own.

Kevin Drum has a post over at summarizing a recent bill in California requiring a class in financial literacy for all high school students. Read the link to see a summary of the syllabus. Here’s his hot take:

“What are they going to do with the smart kids who will understand everything in the first week and then have nothing to do? But after reading this list my concern is more with how average kids are expected to soak this all up. It feels kind of overwhelming for a C+ 17-year-old

.“Plus I wonder who’s going to teach these classes. Most adults aren’t all that financially literate, after all, and a degree in history or art or English or even math won’t help you out much.”

I pretty much agree. I believe it would be highly desirable for high school students to have proficiency in most or all of these topics. In many cases, the topics would provide opportunities to apply basic math skills from other classes as well as develop some critical thinking, something sorely needed in the high school demographic.

Of course, what’s interesting is not how much teaching goes on, but how much learning goes on. The content has to be customized to the learners and conveyed by instructors who can motivate high school kids on their terms. So I don’t know how realistic this proposal is. That said, I don’t think we should make the perfect the enemy of the good. Try it and revise as needed.

curriculum for high school economic literacy