Teaching New York Students About Finances

Every year, thousands of New York City high school graduates enter adulthood with only the vaguest notion of the tools they’ll need to be productive citizens — like what a car insurance policy covers and doesn’t. not cover, what a credit score is and why it’s important, how to maintain a checking account with the least fees, how to apply for college loans, the relative advantages and disadvantages of renting a car or l buying a car with a loan, and what is the risk/reward component for investments.

The Legislature should mandate, or Education Commissioner Betty Rosa and the Regents should require by regulation, each public high school in the state to develop a separate personal financial literacy course for 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.

Council for Economic Education surveys of financial literacy programs in all states found that as of 2022, New York does not require any separate personal financial literacy courses for high school students, but merely suggests possible topics to be integrated into a single program. half-credit requirement (one credit in New York) that students complete in economics.

A 2018 study by the respected Brookings Institution found that in New York City, only three of 15 financial literacy standards were taught.

Several bills are pending in the Legislative Assembly, such as A. 731, A. 6234, and S.7257, that would mandate secondary education in personal financial literacy, but these proposals sit on education committees of the Assembly and the Senate since January 2021. .

In contrast, students in Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Utah are required by law to pass a separate A-level course. high school in personal financial literacy, and just recently, the Florida Legislature voted unanimously to mandate a separate financial literacy course.

Yet here in New York – the financial capital of the world – it is deeply appalling that a student can graduate from high school and even earn an Advanced Regents degree without ever receiving this valuable and essential instruction. As the Brookings Institution has found, briefly covering these issues in an economics lesson is hardly a good enough way to educate thousands of New York high school students on what they need to know about banking, l insurance, investment and borrowing.

Indeed, the appalling quality of financial literacy education in our state is evident in the “Grades 9-12 Social Studies Framework” posted on the state Department of Education website. The document outlines the history, civics, and economics topics that New York high school students should learn. In the economics section, the framework devotes the entire two paragraphs to understanding the role of credit as informed consumers, but there is no mention of the importance of knowing about checking accounts, savings, individual retirement accounts, money transfer services such as Zelle and Venmo, student loans, car rentals, auto insurance, health insurance, home/rental insurance, and life insurance. Another document on the SED website, the Career & Financial Management Curriculum Framework, is quite wrong in stating that bodily injury and liability coverages are “optional” elements of a mandatory auto insurance policy at New York.

The state Department of Financial Services provides consumers with a wealth of useful and detailed information about different types of insurance and about banking, credit, and student loans on its consumer web pages. Yet the department has not released statistics showing how many New Yorkers have read any of these materials, and there is no effective, systematic program to encourage, let alone compel, high school students in New York. to read them.

School districts shouldn’t have to spend limited funds to train teachers to deliver personal financial literacy lessons. There is a wide variety of online course modules and other materials developed by experts and made available by organizations such as CentsAbility, Jump$tart and The Council for Economic Education. The Federal Reserve also offers online banking and credit information that a school district can easily adapt with help from the state Department of Education. Teachers are not required to administer classroom exams to students. A pass/fail evaluation can be done online.

If officials in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee can insist that their high school graduates know the basics of banking, insurance, investing, and credit, there is absolutely no no reason for New York to leave its high school graduates deprived of this essential information. . Hopefully Governor Kathy Hochul and Legislators, or Chancellor Lester Young, Regents and Commissioner Rosa, will take action this year to give our high school students the financial literacy tools they will need to navigate an increasingly more complex.

Richard G. Liskov, of Riverdale, is a former Deputy Superintendent and General Counsel for the New York State Department of Insurance and former Deputy Attorney General for the State of New York.

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