Learning how to manage money is no small feat. Financial literacy is riddled with challenging concepts like budgets, interest rates, and compounding debt. Much of this is hard for anyone to grasp and is actually quite daunting. Along with the strain and uncertainty the pandemic has put on our economy, we face a tumultuous reality where the average debt in America plunges past $90,000 per person.
I can’t think of a better time to highlight the importance of making smart decisions with your money. It’s one of the reasons why I championed legislation to provide every young adult with financial literacy training. This important bill set financial literacy standards as a requirement for high school graduation. Starting this year, every child entering ninth grade will have completed a financial literacy course before walking across the stage.
Our efforts focus on educating and empowering students at a young age about personal financial responsibility and how to budget their money. This can be pivotal in establishing lifelong good habits. Almost every high school student will soon be faced with major decisions after graduation. Whether it’s borrowing money for college, borrowing for a car, going to vocational school, investing, or dealing with the influx of credit card applications they will receive, making the correct call has a lasting impact across one’s lifetime. Having the knowledge of how to correctly make those decisions can make generational changes for that young adult.
We are fortunate to have state treasurer Allison Ball and the Kentucky Financial Empowerment Commission intently focused on driving a trove of new initiatives to tackle this important work. Alongside Treasurer Ball and the commission, community leaders and economic educators are actively creating tools and tactics that provide support to schools and teachers.
We can see the real impact of many of the efforts across the state. For example, at Northern Kentucky University, the Teaching Financial Literacy program equips educators with the tools and skills to teach more than 500 students each year while also earning college credits. And the Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis provides resources and professional development opportunities for educators. It is well-known students learn best when taking part in the classroom, and I am thankful for the educators who are weaving ways for students to practice these skills into their curriculum. These are just a few exciting wins for financial literacy and college and career readiness in the Commonwealth.
During a time of great division, Kentucky’s commitment to boosting financial literacy remains a source point for Republicans and Democrats to work together. It’s worth noting the most significant part of the new standard is that, regardless of whether a student is from a rural or urban area, they will be able to grasp the basics of money management at a younger age. That knowledge can have a transformative impact on families for generations.
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