Teach More Financial Literacy? I Don’t Think So!

Mountain Top Screamer 1024x1024 Teach More Financial Literacy? I Don’t Think So!

Yes folks; Financial Literacy Month is almost upon us once again and here come the “mountain top screamers”.  You know them, right?  They’re not too hard to find; just Google Financial Literacy and hundreds of non-profits, politicians, and personal finance guru’s pop up shouting from the mountain top “Teach more financial literacy!”

Here, let me help you:

Wichita legislator Rep. Melody McCray-Miller, a Democrat, says she’s working on a proposal to make sure schools teach children about personal finance from kindergarten through the 12th grade

State Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, sponsored Senate Bill 1449 which passed the Arizona Senate and now is moving over to the House Education Committee.  She said basic personal finance skills create a healthy fiscal environment for families, which translates into the workforce.  “It relays to how someone manages their mortgages, how they manage their debt.  There are individuals who remain potentially unemployed and unready for the workforce because they just don’t have the basic skills in order to survive in a workforce setting.”

In Mississippi, Bill 637 was allowed to die in the Senate Education Committee. Critics said we don’t need financial literacy because they already teach it. During the 2011-2012 school year, 5,869 out of 29,155 high school seniors took the personal finance elective. That’s only 20%, which is a failing grade in the school system!

Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, pushing Senate Bill 418, a proposal to mandate financial literacy for grades 6-12 says “In high school we learned about the Laffer Curve and Keynesian economic theory,” he says. “Both are important but we never were taught how to balance a checkbook or what a sub-prime mortgage would be or the perils of credit card debt. Bankers would know because they interact. It’s their business. They interact with customers on a daily basis and they see the deficiencies of financial literacy,”

Detroit Public Schools launched two initiatives to teach students the value of saving money.  The effort combines an educational video game with classroom lessons on money management based on the award-winning Practical Money Skills for Life program.  The program aims to reinforce basic math and money-handling skills and highlight the importance of saving money.

You get the picture…

If it’s so important, why isn’t it improving?

As in improving our children’s future; as in improving the lives of adults and their families?  As Kathy Griffin of MoneyU.com said in a comment she left on this blog, “Despite a glut of financial literacy education, the needle hasn’t moved very much two decades into the Financial Literacy movement.”

And yet, every year right around this time, here come the “mountain top screamers” yelling “Teach more financial literacy”.  Why?  What are you teaching now that is any different than what you have been teaching over the last 20 years?

Wake Up America

That’s right; wake the #*@^ up because what you are being taught is what the system wants you to learn; financial functionality.  I also think the jury’s no longer out on this one; IT’S NOT WORKING!

It’s not working for you, it hasn’t worked for me, and it’s not working for our children! There’s only one thing left to do; take back control from a system that tries to teach independence, while leaving you dependent on the very system they want to teach you to function within!

Time to Go “Howard Beale” on Them

“All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’

In case you didn’t know it, those words aren’t mine.  They belong to Howard Beale who was a fictional character in the 1976 movie (yes, I know I’m old) Network.  Go ahead and watch the clip below and see if it still doesn’t apply today!

Click on the post below to read what we should be teaching alongside comprehensive financial literacy

Financial Literacy versus Financial Life Building Skills: Part Two

Any politician, banker, non-profit or anyone else who wants to carry the water for a failed financial literacy movement, feel free to jump in and get the conversation started by leaving a comment below!


  1. GKathy says:

    Hey Lou. No fair to quote me incompletely. You have completely misrepresented my point.

    I said “Despite a glut of financial literacy education, the needle hasn’t moved very much two decades into the Financial Literacy movement SO FAR” and went on to explain that personal finance instruction needs to be competency-based, to be effective. I also explained why the term “Financial Literacy” itself falls short, because it emphasizes knowledge about personal finance, at the expense of Know-How. “Financial Capability” is a better term, and a better intention. I’m advocating for better instructional design, and for outcomes measurement.

    So I applaud States that mandate financial education, and I encourage educators to focus on teaching and measuring competencies.

    Your frustration with the FL movement touches on an underlying flaw that we all should work to rectify: too many FL programs used in schools and other settings were created by the Financial industry. This is an obvious conflict of interest, and in my opinion a major reason why those programs are ineffective. VISA’s Practical Money Skills certainly doesn’t help consumers to read and understand the fine print in their Cardholder Agreement! We need to get banks and creditors out of the classroom.

    • Thanks for the comment Kathy but I don’t think I misrepresented your comment at all. Not only was it your quote, but I also linked to the story in which you left your comment so readers could read it in full!

      I too applaud states for trying to mandate financial education and I too agree that we need to get the banks and creditors out of the classroom as they are part of the system tying to teach financial independence – while actually creating dependence!

      I like what you stand for and how you are going about it Kathy, which is why I allowed the link to your site on this blog.

      I think that particular comment could not have been stated any better by you so please take it as a compliment, not a misrepresentation, as your full comment is there for all to read.

      Here’s an idea; write a guest post on your complete thoughts or let’s do an interview via Skype and let the readers see and hear your complete point of view as it pertains to “financial Capability”

      Consider this an open invitation :)

  2. Laura says:

    Unbiased financial wellness education is something too few companies offer, whether it’s to students, employees, or individual consumers. When I see all the bills our legistlators sponsor, I have to laugh – who in our government seems to be fiscally responsible? I wish every member of Congress would attend the on-site or web classes LFE Institute offers – they might learn a thing or two that would help us all!! They’d learn how to manage OUR money as well as their own!!

    • Politics aside Laura, financial wellness, financial literacy, or financial whatever; it’s more of the same unless it includes behavioral and cognitive modification at the core of it’s teachings. And the earlier, the better!

      Thank you for the comment as they are always appreciated :)

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