About Joanne


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Yeah. A science unit has time to tell kids what home and auto insurance is, so that they can talk about whether it’s a good idea, in between lessons on AGW.
    One would like to think the parents would have taught this. One would be, of course, disappointed.
    One might think about what would happen if the kid gets it and goes home to explain to his parents what they’re doing wrong.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    So sixty percent of twelve year olds know credit cards are a form of borrowing. Pretty good, considering how much else twelve year olds don’t know. Anybody offering twelve-year olds credit cards? No? Then the question is how many eighteen year olds know credit cards are a form of borrowing. And since the writer of the article has to go down to twelve year olds to get a number which, with sufficient hand-waving, can be seen as alarming by the unwary, I’d guess he didn’t have much luck getting alarming stats out of, you know, the kids who will actually be getting credit cards.
    Financial literacy might be a problem in a general sense, but leading off with the twelve year olds is a self-impeacher for the rest of the article.

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    You don’t weave financial literacy into a class…you teach it out right…starting in kindergarten through high school…

  4. Chartermom says:

    You know, I was a pretty darn smart kid and raised by parents who made sure I understood money and the stock market and I developed a good savings habit. But I didn’t really understand the “credit” part of “credit” cards until I was in my 20’s despite the fact that I was a business major (I did know about ratios and GAAP and other financial info). However I still didn’t get into trouble financially because in my house credit cards were always paid off each month so I just assumed they had to be paid off at the end of each month! So some of those 12 year olds who don’t understand credit cards as a form of borrowing may still be developing good financial habits.

    Now that being said — I do believe like tim-10-ber that financial literacy ought to be taught in schools beginning with K (my son actually did a great unit on wants and needs in either K or 1st grade). And one of my dreams for retirement is to develop a “how to live on your own” class for high schoolers that would include financial literacy, basic tool skills, how to sew on a button, basic first aid, a touch of contract law and how to be a smart consumer. I think every high schooler ought to be required to take such a course no matter how smart they are. I’ve known too many smart people who really don’t know most of those things.

  5. If you require another course for ALL students, which course does any given student then have to give up? The fifth science course? The last year of a language? Art? My own daughter is juggling this. She can’t graduate without that financial literacy course which does happen to be required in my state, but what she really wants to take is a second language.

    “Come here for a second, honey.”
    “What, Mom.”
    “Um, Ok.”

    Issue solved. Now she can take Latin and German.

  6. Chartermom says:

    Lightly Seasoned, following your logic, why have any requirements at all? Why require History because it might prevent a child from taking another math course? After all I can teach my kids history. Or why require English literature — students can go to the library and read those books. So your daughter would rather take German than Financial Literacy — my boys would rather take Computers than English Literature. But they are required to take 4 years of English Lit. Is it really more valuable than programming skills?

    High school is not about just letting kids take what interests them — it is also about preparing them for life. And right now high school does a better job of preparing kids for college than for life. And college teaches academics and nothing about life. And yes, maybe you do a good job of teaching your daughter all about financial literacy but there are others who do equally good jobs teaching their kids about science, english, history, math, etc. And my boys had to take PE despite the fact that they are both multi-sport athletes. Unfortunately requirments can’t be tailored to each kid.

  7. supersub says:

    ummmmm, what happened to home ec? Everything I needed to to know about budgets, checks, and credit I learned there.

  8. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Supersub– When I was in HS (early 90’s) Home Ec was only for non-collegebound kids. College bound kids with a schedule full of APs barely had enough elective space to squeeze in the required art and gym classes. And guidance counselors tended to imply that the course was only for teen moms. (Sort of like the “child development” course, which included babysitting for actual toddlers.)

  9. Cranberry says:

    Unfortunately requirments can’t be tailored to each kid.

    But, it’s so tempting to require things, because then we know we’ve done our best to produce good citizens. Even if the resulting mass of requirements makes it difficult to create interesting lesson plans. If there were a choice between a strictly academic high school, and a high school whose curriculum had been shaped by politicians’ demands and the most cutting-edge theorists, I’d opt for the academic high school.

    I could create an argument to require almost anything to be taught in K-12. That doesn’t mean that it should be required, nor that requiring it won’t cause greater difficulties. What gets cut from the schedule to fit in the financial literacy? Perhaps we can’t cover compounding interest, because we’re listening to each class member present his household budget.

    If there were money for summer school, it would be a great idea to offer financial literacy, PE, and other required courses in the summer alongside remedial math and reading. Let the kids who only need to fulfill the PE requirement cover it in the summer. If they’ve met the academic requirements, and have found a college to attend, allow them to go to college a year early, rather than requiring them to return for senior year.

    Also, if you must require it, turn the writing over to financial experts, not teachers. Oh, look, a quick Google revealed this: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/free-household-budgeting-work-sheet.aspx. If a high school teacher were to download the sheet, and spend the last two days of the school year discussing it with her class, would that cover the requirement? Or should the class spend months visiting supermarkets?

  10. SuperSub says:


    We didn’t do home ec in HS… we had two years of it in the academic wasteland that is middle school. We ran virtual households and businesses and had to keep our checkbooks and budgets balanced… at the end of 8th grade we created our own businesses and ran them out of the school store. My group made and sold caramel apples during lunchtime… we made a tidy profit out of it. Unfortunately, our profits were consumed by another group’s business that sold ice cream cookie sandwiches and only counted the cost of a single cookie per sandwich. Running that business and doing well is my fondest MS memory.

    We learned about simple interest in Home Ec… and compound interest was covered in HS Algebra. Add in some quality reading instruction, and you have everything you need to navigate credit cards. Unfortunately, we’ve lost pretty much all of it to the education ‘reforms’ of the past 15 years.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:

    Why on earth is financial literacy a school subject? Parents can teach that. Parents are, presuming they are not filing bankruptcy as often as allowed, actually practicing financial literacy.
    Parents can teach that.
    Unlike history, Chartermom, where parents are not practicing history as a daily routine.
    Is the new meme that if school doesn’t teach it, nobody can learn it?
    Speaking of history, a Marist poll is kind of depressing. One American in four doesn’t know from whom we became independent. The date is a poser, too. Younger people do worse than older people and women worse than men.

  12. I’m actually in favor of requiring a lot less. 4 English, 2 math, 2 History, 2 Science. Tell students they need X credits to graduate, and they can pick the rest. No required PE (its obviously not working to fix teen obesity), nothing. Have different requirements for a Vocational Diploma (extra picks in job training type classes), College Bound (extra math, language, history, science), etc…, and a basic “I completed HS” diploma for those who can’t be bothered for either of those.

  13. Chartermom says:

    Richard — I share your depression over the lack of history knowledge as facts like that should be known well before high school. However in the end not knowing facts about history is unlikely to ruin your life, not understanding credit can. (Admittedly not knowing history can ruin the collective life of a nation but then so can not knowing credit). And while I agree that kids should learn much of financial literacy at home, many aren’t. I live in an area with one of the highest concentrations of advanced degrees in the country and unfortunately find myself often appalled by the lack of basic financial knowledge possessed by some very educated people. They can’t teach their kids because they don’t know it themselves.

    I’ll also just mention that my “dream” curriculum contained much more than just financial literacy — it really was about independent living. It is grounded in my belief that K-12 should not just prepare kids for college but also prepare them to be independent adults. I do think those skills were taught in school at one point but were dropped in the name of “college prep”.

  14. Richard Aubrey says:

    The idea of advanced degree holders as being too involved with whatever it is to pay attention to the mundane is probably one of those stereotypes based on reality.
    However, if they are not bankrupt and are not being foreclosed upon, they have enough financial literacy to get by. Whether they teach their kids or not is another issue, but by the time the kid hits eighteen, they’d have seen enough to know.
    To go further into the subject would be dodgy, since getting past budgeting would require economics, which can get you into trouble. You mean the government can’t just print money indefinitely? Free markets vs. command economy?
    I knew people when I was younger who were financially literate. They just didn’t have any self-control. None of them ever said, “I had no idea it worked that way.”
    I heard some rationalization, but no suggestion they were in trouble because they didn’t know what was going on.

    As I said earlier, that the author of the article had to go down the age chart to twelve years old to get any kind of a number to support viewing-with-alarm and let’s-have-another-government-program pretty much tells us there’s nothing there.

  15. Chartermom: Exactly. Requirements *can’t* be tailored to each kid. But electives can. By increasing requirements, one eliminates electives.

    Equating financial literacy to history or math is a bit of a specious argument.