Senator Frantz: Connecticut Schools Should Teach Financial Literacy [Connecticut Post]

August 6, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Connecticut Post on August 5, 2013

Connecticut scores an ‘F’ in teaching financial literacy

Connecticut received a failing grade in teaching students about financial literacy, despite the outcry to educate young people about money after the sub-prime debt crisis helped trigger the Great Recession in 2007, according to a national study.

“Since 2007, Connecticut legislators have introduced seven bills in an attempt to bring financial literacy into their schools. All attempts have failed,” the report said.

The state does not require schools to teach them or students to take financial literacy classes, and all attempts by state legislators to change that since 2007 have been shot down, the study conducted by the Center for Financial Literacy said.

For that, the state received a failing grade.

The state is not alone at the bottom of the class, though. Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Rhode Island and Washington also got an F. Sixty percent of states got a C or worse.

To get an A, states have to require a standalone personal finance course or require that personal finance topics be taught as part of another mandatory course, and that students be tested on the material. Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia all got A’s.

One of the Connecticut legislators who has attempted to pass legislation to require schools to teach financial literacy is Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-36, who has introduced five bills, none of which made it past the Legislature’s Education Committee.

“It’s a simple concept. You teach kids the basics of financial responsibility,” Frantz said in a recent interview.

The basics include knowing about credit card debt, the fact that interest compounds on it, and the various “tricks” credit card companies employ, he said, so young people stay out of the kind trouble that snowballed into the recent global economic crisis

“Financial literacy is like first aid. Everybody should know the basics of it,” Frantz said.

Frantz has even offered to put together a simple course of videos or online lessons that wouldn’t cost the state or schools anything.

Asked what the resistance is to passing legislation to require the state to teach kids about money, Frantz said, “I have no idea.”

One piece of legislation that did get through is a law passed in 2009 that allows banks to open branches in schools to help students learn about saving money. But it doesn’t address the problem of people buying homes they can’t afford using unsound financial products they don’t understand. Or impose any curriculum requirements.

“Financial literacy topics must be taught in a course that students are required to take as a graduation requirement,” the Center for Financial Literacy report says.

The Connecticut Department of Education did not return several phone calls for comment on this story.

Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy was created in 2010 in direct response to the mortgage defaults, foreclosure rates, personal credit defaults and bankruptcy cases that resulted from the recent global economic crisis. Its goal is to ensure that young people enter adulthood with the skills to make sound decisions about spending, credit, debt and investments, and to help them navigate the difficult financial situations they will likely face as adults, such as buying a home and saving for retirement.

The full report is available at