The goal of high school is to educate and prepare young people for life in our society. Though an important part of life in society is personal finance management, California schools currently do not place as much emphasis in financial education as they do other subjects.
According to the California Department of Education’s website, high school students are only required to take one semester of economics. California does not require students to take any finance classes.
According to the History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools, a typical economics course is expected to cover mostly general principles of economics, such as the market economy or international trade, rather than practical information regarding personal finance. Compared to other standards, which have been all been updated in the 21st century, these standards were last updated in 1998.
The Council for Economic Education (CEE) recently released its 2014 Survey of the States, examining the “state of K-12 economic and financial education in the United States.” The survey discovered that California was one of the most advanced states in terms of economics education, as it requires high schools students to take an economics course. However, California is one of six states that do not have any standards implemented for personal finance education. The disparity between economic and financial educations is only wider in the State of New York.
This discrepancy does not necessarily relate to economic status. According to data from the US Census Bureau, some of the highest performing states in terms of household income are those with no personal finance regimes. Yet two states with personal finance requirements, West Virginia and Mississippi, ranked worst in the nation in terms of household income.
Yet while California is doing well economically over all, students who may need personal finance education cannot get it in California schools.
For students who want to study economics more intensively, certain high schools provide Advanced Placement Macroeconomics and Microeconomics. Macroeconomics explores the dynamics of several nations’ economic systems, while Microeconomics deals with topics regarding the role of consumers and producers in one nation’s economic system.
“The AP Economics exam does adequately test knowledge of the fundamental principles of economics,” South Pasadena sophomore Stanley Wu said. “However, I do feel that there is a lack of information regarding personal finances useful in everyday life integrated into the class.”
The disparity between California’s economic and personal finance educations is wide. However, the California Department of Education’s relative indifference in upgrading its personal finance education seems to suggest that the those who create educational standards do not feel that a robust personal finance education program is necessary for the state’s high school students.