The Alabama House of Representatives advanced a bill that would send high school graduates into the real world with a deeper understanding of financial literacy and personal money management.
If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the law would implement the standards in ninth-grade classrooms during the 2024-2025 school year.
The bill, brought by Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Huntsville), received broad bipartisan support in a unanimous 104-0 final vote Tuesday. Personal financial management has been a long-talked-about subject when it comes to curriculum. Whitt said he identified the need from his professional experience.
“As a community banker for over the last 30 years, I have continuously witnessed the decline in the consumer’s ability to understand the basic skills dealing with personal financial situations,” Whitt said. “What people don’t realize, these are not just math skills, they are life skills that everyone needs.”
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The law specifies the State Board of Education would require high school students to complete a course in personal financial literacy and take an examination before graduating.
“This does not require students pass this test before graduation,” Whitt said, “Nor does this increase the financial burden on our school systems.”
Whitt said he worked on the legislation for two years with State Treasurer Young Boozer and State Superintendent Eric Mackey.
The standards include:
- Types of bank accounts offered, opening and managing a bank account, and assessing the quality of services
- Balancing a checking account
- Basic principles of money management such as spending, credit, credit scores, and managing debt, including retail and credit card debt
- Evaluating types of loans
- Basic principles of personal insurance policies
- Understanding percentages as relating to taxation
- Computing interest rates by various mechanisms
- Simple contracts
- Types of savings and investments
“You’re on point,” Rep. Barbra Drummond (D-Mobile) told Whitt.
“When we can educate people on the dollar of their pocketbooks, perhaps they can make good decisions to raise themselves up,” she said.
“Someone that’s in the banking industry, you understand this very well,” House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said. “We certainly appreciate you bringing this piece of legislation.”
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270 for coverage of the 2023 legislative session.
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