Editorial: State Needs Lessons In Finance [Stamford Advocate]

August 7, 2013

Editorial as it appeared in the Stamford Advocate on August 7, 2013

Using a grading system to gauge how states are teaching financial literacy is, to some degree, treating the states like children.

Flunking Connecticut should at the very least inspire a discussion. Bankruptcy, mortgage defaults and personal credit defaults helped lead to the creation of Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy in 2010. The center works to ensure young adults have the skills to make appropriate spending decisions, and determined Connecticut has failed to act to create an educational environment that can help prevent a repeat of the 2007 recession.

We don’t believe the “F” is an accurate reflection of financial literacy in the hallways of our schools. But it’s also a reality that many adults in our communities are at a disadvantage when buying property or deciding whether — or how — to participate in a 401(k) plan.

In an effort to better teach financial responsibility to children, state Sen. L. Scott Frantz of Greenwich introduced five bills, none of which cleared the Legislature’s Education Committee.

“Financial literacy is like first aid,” said Frantz, a venture capitalist.

Arguably, it’s more like oxygen than first aid in these parts. Credit card deals are tossed to the young about as frequently as tweets, and everyone should leave high school with the ability to balance a checkbook. Frantz says he doesn’t know why his bills failed, and offered to create a course of videos or online lessons at no cost to the state or the schools.

Hopefully, the report will get the conversation started. It’s pretty easy math. Teach people about finances and they will spend their money more wisely. A + B = a more sound economy.