Financial literacy legislation passes Senate committee

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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
November 8, 2017

Courtesy: MGN Online

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Beginning in the fall of 2018, Florida high school students may have a new class requirement - financial literacy.

A 2016 study found nearly two-thirds of Americans can't calculate interest. The number has been on the rise since at least 2009.

"We want to provide our students with financial management skills," said Senator Dorothy Hukill.

Sen. Hukill is sponsoring legislation requiring all high school students to pass a semester long course, which would teach skills like balancing a checkbook and determining interest.

"We want to give them the real world skills so they don't get deep in debt," Hukill said. "That they don't make decisions that are going to affect them for the rest of their lives and affect them negatively."

17 other states require a similar course.

The bill passed a Senate committee unanimously Wednesday morning, but some lawmakers worry the course will limit opportunities for students to take art or other elective classes.

Others are concerned the bill continues a trend of cramming more curriculum into a school year they already consider too short.

"We're still stuck on a 180 day school year, basically seven hours a day," said former superintendent and State Senator Bill Montford.

Montford says lawmakers will eventually have to take a serious look at lengthening the school day or even school year.

The financial literacy course would take the place of an elective course, leaving one less opportunity for students to take arts or fitness classes.

"It's a simple matter," Montford continued. "The more we require for graduation, the less options there are for electives."

School boards say they can't afford the cost of the course, which is estimated between $130,000 and $8.8 million without state help.

If approved, students would see the class as early as next fall.

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