- More states are on board The number of states requiring an economics course to graduate high school has increased to 21 from 17 since the last survey in 2007.
- Personal finance is a focal point The number of states requiring a personal finance course to graduate high school stands at 13, up from seven; 34 states have personal finance content standards, up from 28.
- Business skills are on the radar Five states require that entrepreneurship be taught as part of a high school course (usually economics), up from three in 2007.
With little measurable progress, the Obama administration is shifting gears. The new approach is to keep things very simple for students and provide few but thoroughly vetted choices in financial products for adults.
But the real issue may have less to do with kids' ability to absorb money lessons than with educators' ability to convey them. In a 2009 survey, Wendy Way and Karen Holden, Human Ecology experts at University of Wisconsin, found that "while teachers recognize the importance of teaching personal finance, few have had formal preparation for teaching this subject matter." Indeed, just 37% of teachers have taken even a single personal finance course while in college. Nearly as many now teach one in high school. Wow.
- Less than 30% of teachers offer their students any instruction in personal finance.
- Only 19% of teachers had attended a personal finance workshop for their own benefit and a meager 12% had attended a workshop on how to teach personal finance.
- The chief financial concern of teachers is their own money, including saving for retirement, paying their kids' college tuition and finding supplemental income.
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Photo courtesy Flickr user seeveeaar.