State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Advocates for Closing the Gap in Personal Finance Education for California Students
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond is working together with nonprofit Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) and its network of California educators to combat inequities in access to financial education in the California public school system. Across the U.S., 70% of students have access to a personal finance course, but only 26% of students in California do.
Thurmond, who began his second term as State Superintendent in January, addressed nearly 100 California personal finance educators in San Francisco on March 11 at the Closing the Gap Conference hosted by NGPF, a California-based nonprofit committed to guaranteeing that all high school students receive a personal finance course prior to graduating.
“Given the high cost of living in California, why wouldn’t we help our young people understand personal finance?” said Thurmond. “This is a matter that requires urgency.”
Thurmond is co-sponsoring AB 984, which would add the completion of a one-semester course in personal finance to the graduation requirements commencing with pupils graduating in the 2028–29 school year, including for pupils enrolled in a charter school. The bill would require local educational agencies, including charter schools, to offer a personal finance course commencing with the 2025–26 school year.
“We’re going to have to be thoughtful about how we introduce a new opportunity,” said Thurmond, adding that implementing it as an elective first would help pave the way to implement a course guarantee. “I think it should be a requirement because this is an issue of equity.”
Many teachers at the conference agree.
“As educators we have a duty to give our students the tools that they need to be successful in life,” said Kathy Mangelsdorf, who has taught personal finance in the Rocklin Unified School District for more than three years. “These are life skills that students need. Their financial well-being depends on it.”
“There is a huge lack of knowledge around financial literacy and it is unfair to assume our students will figure it out or learn on their own,” said educator Paige Leon of Fresno Unified. “We need to make it a regular part of our educational process so our students grow up to be more financially responsible than those who came before them.”
In August, Thurmond and NGPF announced $1.4 million in financial literacy grants for California public high schools to help deliver personal finance courses. The grants provide stipends for teachers who complete NGPF professional development. Additionally, the grant also provides matching funds to hire a personal finance specialist within five of the largest school districts in the state.
“We commend Superintendent Thurmond for his vision, leadership, and advocacy around this important issue of ensuring the next generation of Californians have the knowledge they need to have a better financial future,” said Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of NGPF. “It’s long been our dream to see momentum around a personal finance course guarantee in California.”
As part of the grant announced in August, the first 1,000 California public high school teachers who complete 20 hours of professional development with NGPF will earn a $500 stipend. More than 500 stipends remain. California teachers can earn hours by registering and attending these FREE professional development opportunities, including Certification courses, On-Demand modules, and Virtual PD.
About the Author
As NGPF's Marketing Communications Manager, Hannah (she/her) helps spread the word about NGPF's mission to improve the financial lives of the next generation of Americans.
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