A Low Stress Strategy to Increase Access To Personal Finance Courses

May 31, 2021

For some educators, the thought of presenting alone to a school board, or even emailing them, is daunting enough to avoid altogether. Yet, they’re passionate about personal finance and want to guarantee that every student takes the class to graduate. If this encapsulates your feelings, this post is for you.

I need to start by saying that you’re not alone, and you don’t need to do it alone. Coalesce the folks who you feel comfortable with who share your passion and do this together. It’s a lower stress strategy to ignite change and a heck of a lot more fun. 

U.S. News & World Report found that more than 83% of parents believe high schools don't do enough to help their kids become financially savvy. If you’re wondering why it’s not 100%, it could be because around 20% of students are already guaranteed to take a standalone Personal Finance course prior to graduation. 

The NFEC asked 8,633 adults in 3 separate surveys a simple question “What high school-level course would benefit your life the most?” The results – people chose money management more than all other choices combined (Mathematics- Algebra; Science- Biology, Chemistry; Social Studies- History, Government).

The lesson: Parents have your back! Ask the parents you know and feel comfortable with for some help. This parent newsletter can be a great way to connect with parents as you update them on what you're teaching their children. 

XQ hosted candid roundtables across the country as a way to gather student insights and inspiration about rethinking high school in America. Cameron, a student at the Denver roundtable, echoed a sentiment broadly shared: 

 “...classes, like math and science, don’t let us experience what the world is like right now. For example, I learned the Pythagorean theorem but you can’t use that (in the real world). I don’t know how to buy a house without getting scammed. I don’t know how to buy a car. We don’t learn these things in high school even though we’re there 40 hours a week.”

My fondest memories as a teacher are taking a back seat to my students who advocated for financial literacy. It was required where I taught, but that was not enough for them. For Anna, she made her case in a bonus section of our documentary The Most Important Class You Never Had. For JaVon, his efforts were highlighted in Money Magazine. For Kylie, Kristen (our intern), Emily, and Nate -- they felt the need to make the case to lobbyists and lawmakers as Ohio SB 1 was being built out; Nate later testified.

Students across the country are helping lead this effort. We are seeing them testify for personal finance at the school board level and in State Capitol buildings 

The lesson: Students want this! Ask the students you trust and have strong relationships with for help.

My advice is to take a simple and stress-free first step of contacting a few parents and students who share your feelings. Get together to discuss how you can bring other parents and students into the movement. As this TED video so vividly demonstrates, it only takes 2 to start a movement! 

You will find that the parents and the students will be eager to sit shoulder to shoulder with you and have an informal conversation with some board members, you could even show: The Most Important Class You Never Had as an icebreaker. You don’t need a presentation for this, you don’t need to plan much, you just need the ear of a board member that you, the parents, and the students can speak to from your hearts. What will unfold is an opportunity, and we have every resource you need for the steps that follow.

About the Author

Brian Page

Making a difference in the lives of students through financial capability is Brian’s greatest passion. He comes to NGPF after fifteen years of public school teaching where he was the ‘11 Ohio Department of Education recipient of a Milken National Educator Award, the CEE Forbes Award winner, and a Money Magazine/CNN "Money Hero". He served on the working group for President Obama's Advisory Council on Financial Capability. He has private school experience as a Trustee for the Cincinnati Country Day School and was a past Ohio Jump$tart President. Brian holds a BBA and M.Ed. When Brian isn’t working alongside his NGPF teammates he is likely spending time with his wife, three children, and dog; hiking, or watching Ohio State football.