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Financial Literacy is Key to Long-Term Success for Ohio's Students

A Guest Column by State Senator Steve Wilson
April 19, 2021
Steve Wilson News
As a state, Ohio is devoted to investing in the wellbeing, education and promise of our students. While we do an excellent job guiding and training our students to join Ohio's workforce, fill Ohio's in-demand jobs, and live out their American dream, there is one key area we can do much better: financial literacy. When students graduate high school, a strong understanding of personal finance is one of the most important skills they can have to make decisions that will set them up for success for the rest of their life. How to take out a loan, whether for a first home or college, how to file taxes, avoid credit card debt, and how to balance a budget, are among many other financial skills that are needed to secure long-term financial security. Unfortunately, many of our young adults are leaving high school without these skills. This is a relatively simple problem that must be addressed if we are serious about the future of Ohio's students and workforce. As a banker for over 40 years, I’ve seen the results first-hand of not educating our students about financial literacy. Currently, Ohio schools are required to integrate the study of economics and financial literacy into existing social studies credits, while using available public private partnerships. However well-intended this may be, it has caused a complete lack in uniformity and has led to a decline of financial literacy in our state. April is Financial Literacy Month, so there is no better time to remind the people of Ohio the importance of learning about finances, as well as what the General Assembly is doing to ensure schools and parents are giving students the foundation they will need for a brighter future. In fact, this issue is so important to our communities that it was the focal point of the first piece of legislation I introduced this General Assembly. Senate Bill 1 would require students to take a one half unit course specifically devoted to financial literacy. The legislation would also require teachers to obtain a license validation in order to teach financial literacy, ensuring the curriculum is consistent and teaching best practices. These two requirements will provide a strong uniformity to Ohio’s educational standards, and will certainly improve our student’s finical literacy. As always, I welcome your thoughts and ideas. If you would like to discuss your own ideas or have additional questions about how we can help our students become more financially literate, please contact my office at (614) 466-9737 or by e-mail at Wilson@OhioSenate.gov.