Sunday, September 20, 2020
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Lowery appointed to youth financial literacy council

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Lillian M Lowery, the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, to serve a one-year term as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans.

The council advises the president and the Treasury secretary on promoting financial know-how among young people and encouraging the nation’s schools, families, and companies to build financial literacy through technology.

“I am honored to be invited to serve on the council and I look forward to sharing Maryland’s success stories with the nation,” Ms Lowery said in a written statement. “The president is taking action to help underserved populations in particular by preparing children from a young age to make sound financial decisions. This work has the potential to help all communities.”

The council seeks to identify ways to:

  • Build strong public-private partnerships between and among members of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission; other agencies; State, tribal, and local governments; and private entities to coordinate the use of high quality financial capability resources and practices in schools, families, communities, and elsewhere in order to build the financial capability of young Americans
  • Support ongoing research and evaluation of financial education and capability activities aimed at young people to determine and disseminate effective approaches
  • Effectively assess the financial capability, including both financial knowledge and financial behaviors, of young Americans
  • Identify and develop strategies to pilot financial capability approaches in schools and among young people that are likely to have significant effects on young Americans’ financial capability, and determine ways to test and implement such innovations in a large-scale and sustainable manner
  • Identify, develop, and measure the effectiveness of technology-driven approaches to promote financial capability among young people
  • Identify and test promising and tested approaches for increasing planning, saving, and investing for retirement by young people
  • Promote the importance of starting to plan and act early for financial success broadly among Americans through public awareness campaigns or other means

US lags, slightly, in financial literacy

Nominating a school leader from a state that leads the way in financial literacy couldn’t come at a better time: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released a report on July 9 showing that financial literacy among US 15-year-olds was slightly behind that in other countries, on average.

“Developing financial literacy skills and knowledge is critical now that individuals are becoming increasingly responsible at an ever earlier age for financial risks affecting their future,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

In an increasingly global economy, the OECD says only about 1 in 10 teenagers around the world, and about 9.4 percent of US teens, can make some key—but complex—financial decisions, including choosing among various loans or analyzing invoices and pay slips, the Associated Press reported.

This article was edited in October 2019 to reflect the following change: The link for the 2014 survey of states from the Council for Economic Education has been replaced with the 2016 report, found on a document server website by one of our readers. In addition, our reader notes that a 2018 survey of the states is also available. We apologize for any inconvenience readers may have had in following a link that was no longer maintained by the website that originally published the link.

Only 19 states currently require personal finance classes in high school, according to a 2014 report from the Council for Economic Education: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. This list used to include Illinois and New York, but those states no longer require a course in personal finance as part of their curricula.

The state of Maryland, which dropped off the list of states that require a high school course in economics to be offered, has implemented the Maryland State Curriculum for Personal Financial Literacy Education in third through 12th grades. Many of the links on the webpage for Maryland’s Financial Literacy Education, however, are broken, including:

As I am employed by the MSDE, it is sometimes difficult to know what information I can write about and what information is confidential. As the links I wanted to follow are broken, I am limited to the press release and the president’s notice.

I have repeatedly pointed out in the past that school districts and even, apparently, state departments of education have not yet figured out how to maintain websites. As I have also pointed out, technology and computers are very good at some things, such as disseminating information via the Web and social networks. That job should be entrusted to people who know what they’re doing, rather than allowing an agency of the state government to be embarrassed by poorly maintained websites.

Congratulations to Dr Lowery on an auspicious moment in her career. On the OECD report’s release date, the economic education adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia called on the nation to increase education in financial literacy for young people, giving them the capability to manage their money better in the modern world. The op-ed was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, here.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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