Nov 09, 2021

Mission 2030 Guest Post: Himanshu Sharma Assures Students Will be Better Adults With a Financial Literacy Requirement

The following post is one in a series of inspiring stories from NGPF's Gold Standard Challenge Grant Program which incentivizes high schools and districts to commit to ALL students taking personal finance courses before graduation. Learn more, and apply for your $2,500 to $30,000 Gold Standard Challenge Grant before the August 31, 2022 deadline here.

About Today's Guest Author

Himanshu Sharma is an educator at Fort Morgan High School in Fort Morgan, Colorado. Their school is the 144th recipient of the Gold Standard Challenge grant. Here is Himanshu describing Fort Morgan’s journey to the Gold Standard.

Describe a rough timeline for how you and/or your colleagues were able to advocate for personal finance to become a graduation requirement in your school/district. How long did it take? What were the major progress milestones?

Fort Morgan High School began the process of redesigning its graduation requirements following a flexible pathway concept. Within this redesign was the addition of a requirement for all students, regardless of their chosen path, will need to take a financial literacy class. The new graduation requirements went through many drafts and changes but the one part of the original proposal that held steady was the need for the financial literacy requirement. All stakeholders (parents, teachers, school board, etc.) can all agree that our students will be better adults after learning how to deal with money. Policy IKF-2 graduation requirements were presented by Mr. Clint Anderson and clarified by Mr. Erik Good during the regular session of BOE at 7:06 PM on August 17, 2020. Mr. John Prouty made a motion to approve the new guidelines, including the financial literacy requirement, as a graduation requirement and it passed 7 – 0.

What challenges did you encounter in your efforts to make personal finance a graduation requirement, and what solutions did you find for these challenges?

Adding the new financial literacy requirements was a part of the bigger overhaul of our graduation requirements at Fort Morgan High School. As stated above, many of the other changes being made were controversial but adding the financial literacy piece never was. Our community knows the importance of graduating students who can be good stewards of their financial lives.

What/who were the "catalysts for change" that allowed your efforts to be successful?

There was a small group of teachers and administrators who began rethinking what our graduation requirements could and should be as the student population is growing and changing. Our old standards did not meet the needs of all of our students. It shot for the middle and often missed the needs of students with unique needs.
At first, the group had the financial literacy class requirement only listed in one pathway where students are focusing on more real-life/applicable skills that they were building for life in the workforce, without any further education, after high school. The idea that only this small group of students could benefit from this class was soon dismissed and it was agreed that all our students will be better people if they learn how to handle their finances. There is not really one person or group of people responsible for this change. It came from lots of discussions about what is best for our students.

Which stakeholders (students, parents, admin, business leaders, school board, etc) were helpful partners in your quest to make the graduation requirement happen?

The changes to our graduation criteria were started by a small group of teachers and our administration. They considered our students, talked to other schools in our area, and went through lots of drafts on the road to the final policy. Parent groups and the Fort Morgan High School staff were able to provide feedback and changes were made as the document grew and changed.

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