N.D. schools to teach financeA lagging economy and questions about Americans’ spending smarts have spurred educators to ensure kids leave school financially savvy. North Dakota is among many states that are boosting up classroom lessons in personal finance.
By: By Kelly Smith, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — A lagging economy and questions about Americans’ spending smarts have spurred educators to ensure kids leave school financially savvy.
North Dakota is among many states that are boosting up classroom lessons in personal finance.
“There are a lot of kids out there that don’t have this knowledge,” said Fargo teacher Steve Arel.
That’s why he teaches personal finance in his Fargo South High economics class.
Now the state wants to ensure that every high school student in North Dakota graduates with those same fundamentals of finance.
“Not all school districts do that,” said Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo. “(And) not all parents have the ability or the background or the skills or the interest sometimes in being able to do that. We need to help students prepare for the world after high school. This is one of the things we can do.”
North Dakota legislators passed requirements during the 2009 session that require school districts to offer classes next year on:
* Writing and balancing a checkbook.
* Saving money for large purchases.
* Credit cards.
* Earning power.
* Taxation and paycheck withholdings.
* College costs.
* Making and living within a budget.
* Mortgages, retirement savings and investments.
They’re concepts that some teens didn’t think were relevant when Arel first started teaching personal finance.
“You have to make it pertinent to the kids,” he said. “I think that’s one of the key elements. (Now) the vast majority do walk away saying, ‘OK I do get it.’ ”
This spring, the Fargo district will look at how curriculum will change to meet the new state requirements.
Bob Grosz, the district’s assistant superintendent of instruction, said officials don’t have to revamp the curriculum, just readjust it to dedicate more time for these concepts in the district’s mandatory high school economics classes.
In the end, it will help ensure all kids leave high school ready to handle the realities of the real world, Flakoll said.
“We see it every day in terms of people making poor business decisions,” he said. “By teaching responsible spending or investment, we can at least improve our little slice of the world.”
Kelly Smith is a writer for
The Forum, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.