Bill aims to boost student financial literacy skills

Bill aims to boost student financial literacy skills

(Calif.) High school economics courses may soon be required to include curriculum on financial literacy under a bill pending before California lawmakers.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, said pointed to ballooning student debt as the impetus for bringing AB 1087 forward.

“Too many students are leaving high school without the ability to cope with or understand real world financial situations,” Cunningham said in a Facebook post. “Californians owed $133 billion in student loan debt in late 2018 and San Luis Obispo County has the highest average personal loan debt in the United States. We need to educate our students on topics like budgeting, managing debt, and uses of credit—so they are prepared for life.”

With the escalation of the cost of a university education, the student loan market is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy, and analysts have expressed growing concern about the impact student debt is having on the overall economy and what it might mean for the future.

Bloomberg Global Data showed last year that in the past decade, student debt has risen more than 150 percent—far higher than the 50 percent growth in auto loans or the relatively flat debt taken out by consumers on credit cards or home mortgages.

Combined, federal student loans account for $1.4 trillion.

Students in states including Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and Alabama are required to take at least one semester of financial literacy before they graduate.

In California, financial literacy is included in the state’s History-Social Science Framework, but the topic is only encouraged to be taught. The state does require students complete a one-semester course in economics in order to graduate.

AB 1087, which goes before the Assembly education committee Wednesday, would require that an already mandated course in economics must incorporate certain topics on financial literacy, including fundamentals of banking for personal use, principles of budgeting and personal finance, employment and factors that affect net income, and uses and effects of credit.

Other bills being heard this week include:

AB 34, which would require local education agencies to prepare a bullying and harassment prevention handbook for parents and guardians and pass it out within one month of the beginning of the school year. Handbooks must include the LEA’s policies related to bullying, harassment, discrimination, suicide prevention and hate violence, as well as resources to deal with such problems.

AB 750 would require districts and charter schools to hire or contract with at least one school resource officer who is authorized to carry a loaded firearm, to be present at each campus during regular school hours and any other time when children are present on campus. Policymakers throughout the country have examined different methods of hardening school security, including hiring school resource officers or installing security cameras, while others have called for efforts to instead go toward hiring more counselors to address student mental health needs.

A third bill, AB 1214, would require districts to offer educators a basic course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, at least once every 2 years. The bill would prohibit the Commission on Teacher Credentialing from renewing a teaching or services credential unless the applicant has completed, or is currently enrolled in, a basic course in CPR.

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