Senator Chris Kapenga of Wisconsin is a volunteer financial counsellor in his local church, so he had been surprised by how little consumers knew about managing their own money.
“I was shocked at just the low level of financial capability of people coming out of school,” said the Senator, a Republican from Delafield. “People in college were buried in debt. My philosophy has always been being able to manage your own budget. It doesn’t matter what you do — everyone has to deal with it.”
Given that the handling of money can be considered a fundamental skill for life, Kapenga felt that the only way to really teach citizens about their finances, it must be part of each school system’s curriculum.
“Financial education is an important aspect of every person’s life,” said the chief executive and president of the Wisconsin Bankers Association, Rose Oswald Poels.
The topic was often brought up in the legislature for many years but has not been mandatory in the school system.
However, a lot of school districts underwent financial education separately, embedding lessons on personal finance into other studies like social studies and math.
Around 74% of 400 districts in the state include education on personal finance into curriculums to some degree, and others require the course for graduation, says Krug.
This is why the Department of Public Instruction had been, as Tom McCarthy said it, “pretty agnostic” regarding the legislation.
Wisconsin joined Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and the District of Columbia with a failing grade on financial literacy according to Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy.
The Champlain College issued their report last week, and noted that Wisconsin is pending a legislation on personal financial literacy which “offers hope for improvement.”