NGPF Analysis: Florida Financial Literacy Bill Will Reduce Number of Students Receiving Financial Education

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May 09, 2019
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Research, Advocacy

Much ink has been spilt recently about the legislation in Florida that is awaiting the Governor's signature. With headlines like this, "Legislature approves mandatory financial literacy classes in honor of late senator," you might be surprised to discover that this bill actually REDUCES the number of students receiving financial education in the short-term and potentially the long-term too. So, while legislators are taking victory laps and touting their talking points that celebrate this "landmark" legislation, let's take a look at what school administrators and educators in Florida will be grappling with over the next 3-4 months [the legislation requires that changes are implemented for 2019-20 school year; more details provided at bottom of post]: 

  1. Revising the required Economics course by stripping out the financial literacy standards 
  2. Selecting a one semester (1/2 credit) personal finance course that is aligned to standards that have yet to be determined. 
  3. After selecting a course curriculum and syllabus, add this elective to your course catalog [Note: With the school year ending, students have already made course selections for 2019-20 , so demand for course likely to be close to zero statewide for the school year]
  4. After student signs up for the course, select a teacher to teach it. 
  5. Provide professional development opportunities for the assigned teacher so they feel confident and qualified to teach the given course. 

Does this look like a recipe for a successful implementation and increasing financial capability for Florida students?

Here's how Aaron Standish, Financial Literacy Coordinator, K-12 for Palm Beach County School District described the impact of this bill: 

"The passage of HB 7071 will unquestionably result in significantly less students receiving financial literacy education next year than have in previous years in the state of FL. A mandatory, stand-alone Personal Financial Literacy course has been debated about for 6 years in the Florida Legislature. For that bill to stall yet again in this year's legislative session was unfortunate. Stripping financial literacy out of the mandatory economics course and adding the 'required to be offered' elective provision instead to a separate bill was an unfitting response that could have tragic consequences for many Florida students and their financial futures."

I challenge a legislator to demonstrate how the legislation increases access: 

  • Today (prior to legislation passage): ALL high school students receive some personal finance instruction embedded in the required Economics course 
  • Post-legislation: All districts (I hope this means schools!) must offer a personal finance elective that only a tiny percentage of students will take in 2019-20 (see challenges above) and in future years. 

While disappointed by the short-term consequences of this bill which went from "all students taking a required personal finance course" in January to a bill that will lead to fewer students actually receiving finance education, we remain undeterred and committed to Mission:2030: ALL students should leave high school with the financial skills they need to thrive in the future. 

Long-term, this bill presents a tremendous opportunity. Why? Teachers who care about the financial capability of their students will, as we have seen in every state in the country, step up to deliver quality instruction about skills that matter. They’ll seek out high quality PD, spend their evenings and weekends polishing their curricula, and find innovative pedagogical models to make their classes the best they can be. They start small with an elective, add sections as word spreads about their awesome course and ultimately their school community coalesces around this belief that ALL students should have this course. WE have seen this path replicated hundreds of times and expect Florida teachers will follow this route too. 

We look forward to supporting educators in Florida with our Semester Course, an easy-to-implement, turnkey solution and a comprehensive and best-in-class line-up of virtual and in-person professional development [Click here to find Florida FinCamps scheduled for 2019-20]. Please reach out to let us know how we can support you! 

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With recent media reports touting Florida's financial literacy, the net impact is that fewer students will actually receive financial education course over the next several years. 

How can that be? Let's go to the latest version of the legislation available on the Florida House website (HB 7071) and see how the bill addresses financial education:

  • Removes previous financial literacy standards (addressed later in bill as will need to be revised)

  • Requires all school DISTRICTS must offer a 1/2 credit financial literacy course as an ELECTIVE starting in August; 

  • Removes the financial literacy standards from a required Economics course 


  • Requires revision of financial literacy standards

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We provide this analysis in hopes that future legislators consult educators and administrators before creating legislation. 

 

About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Christian Sherrill

Christian comes to NGPF from the world of classroom instruction, where he was a teacher for three years at a public middle school in El Sobrante, California. After leaving the classroom, he joined math tutoring company, Zeal Learning, to help grow their educator-facing sales and marketing efforts. He's no stranger to making a dollar stretch - while living in the Bay Area on his teacher salary he paid down over $40k in student loans in the span of 3 years. He's thrilled to share those lessons with teachers and students around the U.S.