U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, Chair of the Subcommittee on Children and Families, today announced legislation to promote financial literacy education during a visit to Leesville Road High School in Raleigh. Hagan announced that she has introduced the Financial Literacy for Students Act, which would create an incentive grant program for states that agree to provide financial literacy education in Title I public elementary and secondary schools. Hagan was joined by Dr. A.J. Muttillo, Leesville Road High School Principal; Holly Laird, a teacher at the school who teaches a financial literacy course; Leslie Walden, Senior Public Affairs Director at Fidelity Investments; and Sandy Wheat, Executive Director of the North Carolina Council on Economic Education.
"I am here today, because I want to see financial literacy courses, like the one taught here at Leesville Road, incorporated into schools all across the country," said Hagan. "I am reintroducing the Financial Literacy for Students Act because I strongly believe that empowering our young people to make intelligent financial decisions is how we're going to build stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger economy in the future. I will continue working with our educators to promote financial literacy and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this important legislation in Congress."
During the visit, Hagan toured the classroom of Leesville teacher Holly Laird, who teaches a financial literacy course. Under current federal law, individual states are left to create and implement financial literacy education curriculum and courses in their districts and schools. As a result, only four states require a minimum of one semester of financial literacy education and only 20 states require that the topic be taught within another subject area.
"I would argue that financial literacy is one of the most critical and relevant topics in which we would want students to demonstrate understanding," said Dr. Muttillo. "Financial decisions students make now, have a direct and lasting impact on their future. I couldn't think of a more compelling reason for the importance of teaching financial literacy than the future lives of our students."
"Fidelity's heritage of investing expands beyond the financial markets. We also invest in educating and supporting students in need since we know that education - particularly financial education - is fundamental for people to succeed personally, professionally and financially," said Leslie Walden, vice president public affairs, Fidelity Investments North Carolina. "Through a partnership with school districts, nonprofit organizations, and policymakers in North Carolina who share this focus, together we are helping make an impact on students' future opportunities for success."
"We focus on fostering economic and financial literacy because we believe that greater understanding promotes better decision-making," said Sandy Wheat of the North Carolina Council on Economic Education. "Preparing our K-12 educators to teach personal finance is key. They are at the front lines of preparing a new generation for making informed economic choices."
The Financial Literacy for Students Act would create incentive grants for states that agree to provide financial literacy education in Title I public elementary and secondary schools. It will allow for significant flexibility, creativity and innovation in the integration of financial literacy and entrepreneurship education into existing curricula.
The bill also encourages appropriate professional development for teachers for the teaching of financial literacy education. States are urged to foster partnerships with community-based organizations, financial institutions and local businesses by securing a match to carry out the required activities. It has been endorsed by the Council for Economic Education, the North Carolina Council for Economic Education, the American Bankers Association, Junior Achievement, Operation Hope and Business Roundtable.
Groups endorsing this legislation include: Junior Achievement, Council for Economic Education, North Carolina Council for Economic Education and the American Bankers Association.
April is Financial Literacy Month and on Wednesday Senator Hagan chaired a hearing in Washington on "The Economic Importance of Financial Literacy for Students," as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Children and Families. Hagan has championed financial literacy education going back to her time as a state Senator where she passed a law to include financial literacy education in North Carolina's high school Civics courses.