Starting in May, Oklahoma high schools will be required to teach students how to handle personal finances – everything including banking, taxes, loans, insurance, identity theft – in order to graduate.
Teachers will also be required to certify that their students are knowledgeable in these subject areas.
“The intent of personal financial literacy education is to inform students individual choices directly influence occupational goals and future earnings potential,” the state’s department of education website reads. “Successful money management is a disciplined behavior and much easier when learned earlier in life.”
While several schools have already put these topics into their curriculum, other schools are scrambling to meet the requirements.
“Oklahoma has some of the strongest standards in the country,” Amy Lee, executive director of the Oklahoma Council on Economic Education told the Oklahoman. “Where other states require four or five standards regarding earnings, savings and investing, Oklahoma has 14 standards including three that are state-specific bankruptcy, the financial impact of gambling and charitable giving.”
But the law – passed in 2007 – is flawed, she says, because it doesn’t give school funding to hire expert financial literacy teachers. Districts are also allowed to implement the requirements and curriculum in whatever way they please.
In order to have students graduate and meet the requirement, some school districts have put the curriculum into government, history or other classes, Lee said.
Mustang High School already offered courses in personal finances, but other schools are having students go in front of computers to “self-learn” the subject areas, according to The Oklahoman.
“We’re basically teaching them how to live on their own,” Joe Griese, an Ada High School physical education teacher and who oversees computer-based classes for freshmen said.
Meanwhile at Kingston High School, Vicki Droddy teaches a life skills class to freshmen and is able to place some personal financing learning.
“We’re very lucky that we have a principal who thought the class was important and implemented it early,” she said.
Southeast High School is meeting the requirement by implementing it in government classes. However, some students are able to meet the requirement through several Oklahoma Community College courses they take, said Ann Kennedy, a senior sponsor and advanced placement government teacher.