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Basic Finances to Finally Be Taught in NJ Schools?

This article was written by in Education. 13 comments.

Having done all of my formal schooling in New Jersey, some of it more successful than the rest, I was excited to see a short story in NJ’s Daily Record about a bill passing through the NJ State Senate that would require basic financial skills to be taught in High Schools.

This is sorely needed in all public schools. Too many graduates don’t know how to write a check, balance a checkbook, deal with credit card bills, or what goes on when buying a house. All of those topics, and hopefully more, would be included in the proposed classes.

The State Legislature Web site has multiple bills with similar titles, but I believe this is the core of the matter:

The goal of the pilot program will be to ensure that high school graduates in the pilot districts receive instruction on budgeting, savings and investment, credit card debt, and other issues associated with personal financial responsibility. At the conclusion of the pilot program, the commissioner will report to the Governor and the Legislature on the feasibility of implementing the program on a Statewide basis.

Many of the comments on the Daily Record story are concerned with overloading the curriculum and/or extending the school day. Some have questioned whether the new class should replace Home Economics.

This is Home Economics. In my Home Economics class, we learned how to make pancakes and pillows. I would be much better off having learned to balance a checkbook. Besides, my Home Economics class was in 6th grade, and these new classes would be in High School. I recommend using “Finance 101″ to replace European History.

Thanks to Consumerist.com for highlighting this story.

Updated December 20, 2011 and originally published January 27, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar The Weakonomist

I think this is fantastic! I’ve lobbied mubgome state for years to introduce personal finance requirements. No offense to other disciplines but it is more important than art or music. Hopefully other states will follow suit in the near future.

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avatar slackerjo

It sounds like a good idea but balancing a checkbook? I don’t know anyone under the age of 30 who still writes checks. I worked in billing for many years and checks cause so many problems. Auto pay, online banking or credit cards are the way to go.

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avatar Gramap Ken

This is so important and has been lacking for too long. Hopefully it will pass and spread throughout the education system.

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avatar katy

I went to school in that area. Kudos for them for finally waking up!

Now, if they would stop being thieves…

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avatar Mike

I find it hilarious that government, which is the furthest thing from a finacially responsible agency, would even suggested this. Hopefully they practice what they preach or the students who take this course and become responsible with money will replace the current fat cats in power and all their wasteful pork spending.

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avatar kpoll

Sleckerjo, although I agree with you that no one these days needs to physically take out paper and pen and “BALANCE” their checkbook, a basic understanding of the practice still needs to be taught. The concept of “debits” and “credits” is still in place and anyone who logs in to view their account balance online needs to understand these terms to know what is going on. I just hope that these courses are taught by people who are web savvy and can explain these concepts using modern technology because pulling out a checkbook ledger is going to loose these kids attention spans fast!

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avatar Elisa@Thrive

Ha! Don’t know if we have to replace European History. But this is a great step for NJ that I hope sets a great standard for the rest of the country.

As a member of “Generation Debt” (http://blog.justthrive.com/2009/01/generation-debt/), with the average college student graduating with 24K in student loans, and 2.5K in credit card debt, it is more important than ever to help young people manage their finances!

@slackerjo – I agree that there should be a variety of methods taught to students at to how to best track their spending. But, I think balancing the check book is far better then nothing!

I know that only 10 states currently have personal finance as part of the standard curriculum. And I’m hoping NJ is pushing the trend. But we also have to look at the quality and standards of the programs.

Can any current or past students share their experiences? Both positive and negative?

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avatar Bill M

I was fortunate enough that during HS we had Basic Accounting and Personal Finance as requirements to graduate. Most people still do not know where money comes from…

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avatar Scott

I suggest the idiot legislators who are running NJ into bankruptcy be required to take the course as well.

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avatar Craig

This is a smart decision and wish they had these type of classes for me in high school. They are so much more critical than most of the classes taken. This will help these kids out a lot more than they realize.

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avatar Penko

“I recommend using “Finance 101” to replace European History.” ?????????
Do Americans really need to get even dumber? Why does it have to be one or the other?

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avatar Andy

I just wonder where this required class will be slotted in. Replacing Home Economics isn’t a great option since that’s not a requirement for graduation already.

When I was in HS in NJ many of these required courses (like Health) were one quarter out of Phys Ed for that year. Could be a similar option here.

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avatar The Latter-day Saver

We learned to balance a checkbook in our Senior Year “Economics” class. I think that more States should integrate PF into the curriculum.

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