RISBJ Staff | Apr 11, 2016
PROVIDENCE, RI – In the Council for Economic Education’s biennial 2016 Survey of the States, it was revealed that slow to no growth had taken place in K-12 personal finance and economic education nationwide—and in some cases, had even moved backwards. However, the state of Rhode Island stood out as one of the bright spots, taking great strides in financial education in the two years since the Survey was last conducted; and in large part, this change is thanks to the efforts of one dedicated group of students and policymakers and educators who were willing to encourage and expand on those efforts.
At the end of 2014, by a unanimous vote, the Rhode Island Council for Elementary and Secondary Education voted to endorse the Council for Economic Education’s National Standards for Financial Literacy, which are designed to help students learn to make thoughtful, deliberate choices as consumers, savers, investors and informed citizens. Rhode Island’s adoption of the National Standards was the result of months of groundwork led by realEdRI, a student group that employed social media, petitions, and the old-fashioned power of the pen to garner support for financial literacy.
These efforts were – and continue to be – supported by powerful advocates, including U.S. Senator Jack Reed; Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island State Treasurer; Congressman Jim Langevin; Deborah Gist, then-Education Commissioner of Rhode Island; Margaret Brooks, President of the Rhode Island Council for Economic Education and the Rhode Island Jump$tart Coalition, and Director of Financial Literacy at Bridgewater State University; and Patricia Page, Business and Computer Technology Educator /2014 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year.
There is growing support for requiring personal finance to be taught in schools throughout the state. Following the endorsement of standards in November 2014 an additional two RI districts, bringing the current total to five districts, now require personal finance course work or proficiency assessments as a graduation requirement. As Page noted, “100% of high school students should graduate with a comprehensive understanding of finance because 100% of students will be compelled to make financial decisions prior to and after graduation, whether they head to college or directly into the workforce. Financial capability is a necessary tool to fully securing the bright future Rhode Island high school students are working toward.”
Rhode Island continues to work hard to implement the new standards and get personal finance into schools. Earlier this month, the Rhode Island Council for Economic Education and Rhode Island Jump$tart Coalition convened the 2nd Financial Capability Conference, part of an ongoing state initiative to equip Rhode Island students with financial literacy skills, provide resources and professional development for teachers of financial literacy, and promote the need for financial education.
Rhode Island Council for Economic Education President Margaret Brooks summarized the state’s progress as follows: “Rhode Island has benefited greatly from the vision of our state’s education and government leaders; the dedication of our state’s students and teachers; and the generous support of Fidelity Investments, Council for Economic Education, and other partners who have collaborated with us to offer programs that increase awareness and boost financial capability. We look forward to continuing our financial literacy leadership efforts and progress in the months and years ahead.
About the Rhode Island Council for Economic Education
About the Council for Economic Education