Financial literacy becomes class requirement

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- A new requirement is designed for each school district to update what's taught for financial literacy.

Those lessons teach students about everything from putting money into a savings account to maintaining good credit. Most schools already have classes like this, but this takes it one step further.

Most schools already require students to take a business class or consumer ed before graduating. But, the State Board of Education says much of this curriculum needs to be taught at an earlier age to keep it fresh in students' mind through their years of schooling.

"If I make $100, will I get that in my paycheck?"

Teachers and students are already learning how to get more bang for their buck in this high school business class. But, what about the younger generation?

A new requirement will teach money management to kids in elementary school while continuing the coursework through high school.

"They are always glad that they had it or they wish they had a little bit more information always. Most of the time, they wish they would've paid better attention."

Jenkins has been teaching at Chatham High School for decades and says it doesn't matter what age you are, learning about saving versus spending is always worth talking about to prepare someone for living in the real world.

"Learning to manage money, all of a sudden, Mom and Dad aren't there to answer questions or do it for them. They need some of that experience."

The Treasurer's Office teamed up with some state agencies and non-profit Econ Illinois to get financial literacy standards in more classrooms. They agree it's an important skill to have.

"Education like this is valuable to a lot of kids, especially when they go off to college and are inundated with credit card requests. Some people, too many young people, don't understand how that impact them."

Many schools in the area, like Chatham and Champaign, already teach these classes and didn't have to make drastic changes to the curriculum.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation says about two million people in the state are poor and have suffered some type of financial crisis. School officials hope the updated program will reduce that number.


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