Aug 24, 2021

Mission 2030 Guest Post: Sharon Steinke Saw Gaps in Financial Literacy and Knew Things Needed to Change

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

Sharon Steinke is an educator at Osseo-Fairchild High School in Osseo, Wisconsin. Their school is the 39th recipient of the Gold Standard Challenge grant. Here is Sharon, in their own words, describing Osseo-Fairchild’s path 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?

I have advocated for personal finance to be a requirement for the 5 years I have been teaching at Osseo-Fairchild. I began advocating the first year and continued to show the need to educate students on financial literacy. With the state standards being required for K-12 in 2017 it gave me more leverage.

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 for requiring personal finance was that our administrators were hesitant to put another requirement on students for graduation. As we did a school-wide vertical analysis, I was able to show the gaps in financial literacy throughout the student’s education and the need for a stand-alone class to be implemented to prepare our students for their futures.

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

First and foremost, a passionate Business and Marketing Teacher being consistent and never giving up advocating for the student’s financial literacy education to better prepare as they enter society as working adults after graduating high school/college. While doing the district-wide vertical alignment, it was very prevalent that there was a gap, and was a great time to advocate and show that we need to educate and better prepare our students before graduation.

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

Students were one of the biggest advocates. Every student that took the elective class said that this should be something that all students should take and benefit from. Parents also showed that they wanted their children educated on taxes, balancing a checkbook, their retirement options, and credit. School board members were also very eager to help students gain a financial background before graduation.

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