Opinion | Personal financial training is great, but it’s not enough

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Regarding the June 13 editorial “A worthwhile requirement”:

We applaud The Post’s recommendation of financial classes for all high school students. However, the misalignment between schooling and the world of work is a much larger problem, demanding transformational change. Nationally, 15 percent of high school students don’t graduate on time, while 60 percent of community college students and 40 percent of students at four-year colleges don’t finish within six years. As retired educators, we have been lifelong witnesses of the dysfunction and its victims.


To help all students, schools should provide diverse, specialized training for the demands of hugely different adult careers. For example, different financial classes are needed by future investment bankers and future carpenters. We propose a Career-Education Alignment Commission to ascertain the changes needed to help those now left behind to succeed.

Students will need to explore their interests through project-based learning, from second grade on, to discover by age 15 a career path they can have a passion for. And students will need daily coaching, before they fall behind, for mastery of the academic skills needed for the diverse specialties. And the school day needs to be expanded to include both activities. The commission would identify needed changes, and the funding and training to make them a success.

William Berkson, Reston and William Schillig, Reston

As an economics educator, I applaud The Post’s stance that personal finance education should be required in all U.S. states. However, what often occurs is that mandating personal finance curriculums pushes out economics education. Instead, personal finance should be taught as the practical application of understanding economics. We must help students understand:

• Unintended consequences of poorly informed decisions and policy

• Cost/benefit analysis and how to apply it to personal finance decisions

• Career choice and investment in human capital

• Unemployment and how investment in human capital can help insulate people to some extent from unemployment

• Inflation and real and nominal interest rates

• How we measure the economy because real per capita gross domestic product is used as a proxy for standard of living

• Fiscal and monetary policy and their impact on household budgets, saving, spending and investment decisions

• Implication of taxation on decision-making

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (along with other Reserve Banks) has a wide variety of practical, free lessons and resources for teachers to incorporate economics, including personal finance, into their lesson plans at stlouisfed.org/education. Our students, particularly the most vulnerable, need the financial knowledge to navigate our economy and ensure their financial stability.

Mary Suiter, Chesterfield, Mo.

The writer is economic education officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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