Florida schools wonder how a half-credit financial literacy course will fit into their schedule

Florida high school students will eventually need to learn about finances to graduate. Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill mandating a semester-long course in personal financial literacy and money management.

“If they choose the college, postgraduate, whatever route, they’re still going to need those skills,” DeSantis said at a bill signing event at a charter school in Wesley Chapel. “If they go straight into the job market, they will still need those skills.”

Now, school districts are waiting for guidance from the state on how to implement the new curriculum.

The law will be phased in and eventually require all Florida high school students to earn half credit on how to manage their money. Topics to cover include types of bank accounts, tax information, and how to complete a loan application.

“The concern for superintendents isn’t the financial literacy requirement, it’s the continued decline in the number of electives,” says Bill Montford, former state senator and CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. .

Since the course is compulsory, the new law reduces the number of elective credits required from 8 to 7.5. “Students will have one less half-credit to choose as an elective,” Montford says of the courses students will have to drop to take the new course. “It could be art, it could be music, it could be physical education, it could be another advanced placement class, it could be another academic class of any kind.”

Montford says it’s too expensive for districts to adopt a longer school day to accommodate more electives, and schools won’t know how to add the course until they receive guidance from the department. of Florida Education.

First, let’s make sure we have enough teachers to teach it. Where does this fit into the timeline? asks Montford. “That’s where the pinch really comes in. At the school level, principals have to say, well, what are we going to do not to teach ?

“This is going to cause some unique challenges for main board planners,” says Aaron Standish, K-12 financial literacy coordinator for Palm Beach County Schools. “There’s just no getting around it. You need to find a way to incorporate a half-credit semester course into your masterboard program now.

The Palm Beach District is a leader in incorporating age-appropriate money lessons at all grade levels. Standish notes that the legislature in 2019 began requiring districts to offer financial literacy as an elective because there wasn’t enough support to mandate it.

“This is the seventh year that this has been attempted,” Standish said of the effort to demand silver tuition. “Opposition to this has largely revolved around the question of how are schools going to incorporate this into their timetables?”

This year, supporters of theDorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act” finally managed to cross the finish line. The bill is named after the late state senator who championed the cause until her death in 2018.

Speaking at the Governor’s signing of the bill, Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson said now was the right time.

“With the increase in our gig workers, with the increase in student debt and the things that can go wrong in life at a young age that prevent our economy from growing,” Simpson said, “that prevent people to go out and start businesses because they’re in debt or buying their first home or starting any of those things, I think that’s really important.

Also at the signing of the bill, outgoing education commissioner Richard Corcoran said it was essential to teach children that a bad credit score can cost them a job, while interest compounds can significantly increase their savings.

“A 21-year-old kid invests $200 a year until he’s 30, stops and doesn’t do any more, then there’s a kid who never invests until he’s 30 and earns $200 until he’s 68 “, said Corcoran. “The difference in their amounts is that the kid who only did it for the 10 years starting at 21 has a million dollars more than the kid who started at 30. Those are things that have an impact on life that kids should know and should know well by the time they graduate from high school.

The new law goes into effect for students entering high school in the first year in the fall of 2023.

Copyright 2022 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

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