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Lawmakers call for financial literacy standards

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

State lawmakers are pushing legislation that would create a financial literacy curriculum for the state, encouraging schools to teach skills such as investing, balancing a checkbook, and applying for loans. 

Supporters of the legislation say students are graduating high school without basic financial skills.

Greenwood Republican Senator Brent Waltz says that’s not a new problem.

“In high school we learned about the Laffer Curve and Keynesian economic theory,” Waltz said. “Both are important but we never were taught how to balance a checkbook or what a sub-prime mortgage would be or the perils of credit card debt.”

The General Assembly passed legislation in 2009 mandating financial literacy education for sixth through 12th graders, but Waltz says not enough schools are following through.  He says part of the reason is that schools don’t know what to teach. 

Legislation he’s sponsoring would establish a task force – made up of bankers and teachers – that would develop a model curriculum for the state.

“Bankers would know because they interact – it’s their business – they interact with customers on a daily basis and they see the deficiencies of financial literacy,” Waltz said. “Educators have the ability to teach but they might not know which skill sets are most critical.”

Waltz says using the task force’s curriculum would not be mandated, but he’s hoping by providing the resource, more schools will teach comprehensive financial literacy.  The Senate Education committee is expected to vote on the bill next week.  

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.