BOISE (IdahoEdNews.org) — A bill to require financial literacy courses in all public high schools is headed to the House floor, following a unanimous House Education Committee vote Wednesday morning.
Under House Bill 92, all districts and public charter schools serving grades 9-12 would be required to teach at least one financial literacy class. Students would learn about bank accounts, investment, credit and loans, insurance, the tax system, budgeting and other financial skills.
The bill would not require teachers to obtain additional endorsements, and there are no projected costs to the state. Districts can use free, locally based curriculum (vetted by the State Board of Education) and can use funds from the state for professional development if necessary, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. James Petzke.
And to help districts avoid shuffling course schedules and teachers, a baseline financial literacy credit could fall into an economics course, he said. Districts would have the freedom to create a standalone course or a series of courses if desired.
Requiring financial literacy would be a “giant leap forward” in helping students prepare for life after high school, Petzke, R-Meridian, told the committee.
He also touted the bill’s bipartisan support. Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise, is the bill’s sole Democrat co-sponsor, along with nine Republicans.
“This bill is something that we can all rally behind,” Petzke said.
State superintendent Debbie Critchfield testified in support of the legislation, which she collaborated on with Petzke. The representative originally approached Critchfield on the campaign trail, she said, and inquired about her push to get financial literacy off the ground.
She told the committee that by not providing financial literacy courses, the state is doing a disservice to its students, who need to know how to be fiscally responsible.
“The skills of personal management are very different than the skills in an algebra class or a calculus class,” Critchfield said.
Critchfield plans to introduce a rule before the State Board to create a financial literacy graduation requirement to go along with the required high school credit.
The bill also received support from Dale Layne, a representative of the Idaho Rural Schools Association and the Idaho Association of School Administrators. The skills outlined in the bill are critical for students as they head into adulthood, he said.
Critchfield and Petzke fielded a few questions about the technicalities of the bill, before the committee sent the bill to the House floor, for a possible vote in the next few days.
The financial literacy bill wasn’t the only legislation in the House committee Wednesday.
Rep. Jeff Cornilles, R-Nampa, introduced a bill that would require schools to display the United States’ national motto, “In God we trust,” if an appropriate poster or placard is privately donated.
The committee sent the bill to print with unanimous support.
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