Jul 08, 2021

Mission 2030 Guest Post: Michael Kosmalski Goes Above and Beyond to Ensure Students' Futures

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

Michael Kosmalski is an educator in the Prescott School District in Prescott, Wisconsin who made sure to advocate for students' futures so they would be set up for success. Their school is the 45th recipient of the NGPF Gold Standard grant. Here is Michael in his own words describing Prescott’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?

Personal Finance is an elective, semester-long course that was started at Prescott High School approximately 10 years ago. The course has never had more than ten percent of the student body take the course in a given year. Last year (spring and summer of 2019) our district was working through the Personal Finance Standards for our state and realized that we no longer could keep this as an elective course because of the future impacts this had on our students. Through a course review process (October -December 2019), a proposal for requiring the course was brought to the school board (January 2020), as they would need to change the district policy.

The board was very supportive of the course, but they needed time to review and consider the impact this course would have on students' schedules. After two months of questions at school board meetings, the school board approved the new Personal Finance course requirement!

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

The biggest challenge was having the school board understand why not requiring the course would be detrimental to students' futures. They would be hindering these kids' lives and sending them into the world unknowing of what lies ahead. Also, as the school board tried to balance the right amount of required and elective courses, making a case for this course over others was another hurdle. What seemed to work best was when Fact and Q&A sheets were created that addressed concerns and benefits. 

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

The Business Education teacher, high school principal, and the director of teaching and learning were all crucial parts of this success story. These three individuals took it upon themselves to bring the proposal forward while gaining support and keeping others educated on the issue. This would have not been possible without their help to make sure students leave high school with knowledge for a lifetime. 

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