New Jersey considers starting financial literacy lessons before high school

New Jersey Assemblywoman Angela McKnight is proposing that children in elementary and middle schools be taught the elements of financial literacy

New Jersey Assemblywoman Angela McKnight is proposing that children in elementary and middle schools be taught the elements of financial literacy

A measure advancing in the New Jersey Assembly would require school districts to teach financial literacy to elementary and middle-school students.

Instruction in financial responsibility — including  lessons on budgeting, credit and savings — is already required in New Jersey high schools.

Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, D-Hudson, believes it should be introduced sooner.

“So if we start them at a younger age, they, as adults, have that good financial foundation so we can help end poverty,” she said during a Monday committee hearing on the plan. “If we’re going through some tough financial times, we will be able to manage our money properly.”

Jennifer Keyes-Maloney with the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association said she supports the intent of the legislation, but she questioned how to fit it into the existing structure.

“It’s a very tight schedule that schools exist under in terms of ensuring that we’re meeting all the obligations that we should be for our students,” she said. “Our hopes are that instead of actually creating a standalone requirement, that we infuse these concepts within the existing curriculum.”

Susan Cauldwell with Save Our Schools New Jersey also questioned how the proposed financial literacy training for elementary and middle-school students would affect classroom time for other things.

“When the financial literacy for high school students went in, it caused a great deal of uproar in our high school scheduling,” she said. “A half-year course meant that a lot of our students could not take year long electives in subjects like art.”

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