by Samantha Martinez, Idaho Reports
The House Education Committee passed a bill Wednesday that would require financial literacy to be a fundamental part of every public school student’s education in Idaho.
Rep. James Petzke, R-Meridian, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield proposed this bill with the intention of preparing Idaho’s high school graduates to make educated financial decisions in adulthood.
“For most 18 year olds, this will be the first time they’re buying food, that they’re paying rent, utilities, insurance, et cetera,” Petzke said. “They’ll be making some of the most consequential financial decisions of their lives and at 18 years old too many of them have no knowledge, training, or experience in how to make those kinds of decisions.”
Petzke said this would not replace any current graduation requirements, and could simply be integrated into economics or developed into a stand-alone class.
Critchfield added that since there is currently no teacher endorsement requirement to teach personal finance, it can’t reasonably be required as a standalone course.
Petzke said he didn’t anticipate any costs to the state. “There are many nonprofits that provide free curriculum for this type of training,” he said.
House Education Committee Chair Julie Yamamoto, R-Caldwell, said that there are sometimes concerns that the available free curriculum isn’t properly vetted. Critchfield stated that statutory authority for curriculum adoption lies on the Idaho State Board of Education, and reassured the committee that they would look locally and regionally for the best curriculum available.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 28 states and the US Virgin Islands require financial literacy courses or content for K-12 students.
Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise, asked if this requirement would be incorporated into the Idaho teaching standards. Critchfield replied by saying that as of now it would not be incorporated, though that may change in the future.
Ultimately, the committee passed the bill with support from all the committee members.