SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond was recently given an award for Excellence in Leadership by one of the state’s premier financial literacy organizations, the California Council on Economic Education. Thurmond championed financial literacy during his time as a legislator and previously established a nonprofit program for helping at-risk youth develop their entrepreneurial skills called CEO Youth. Thurmond is now working to have personal finance included as a California high school graduation requirement.
After encountering political difficulties on legislation he sponsored to require that schools teach personal finance (Assembly Bill 984), Thurmond has shifted his focus to getting a ballot measure passed that would require schools to teach personal finance. Thurmond is partnering with Next Gen Personal Finance to launch the ballot measure campaign.
Thurmond and Next Gen Personal Finance are embarking on a listening tour to get input from school leaders about how to successfully implement a personal finance graduation requirement. Thurmond intends to host a personal finance convening in May that will show school districts how to implement personal finance courses partially through utilizing resources that were provided to schools to support financial literacy. Thurmond and other advocates are hoping to leverage the more than $3.6 billion allocated to schools in 2022 to support financial literacy to help schools begin laying the foundation for providing personal finance classes in schools while efforts to get a ballot measure passed are underway.
“Personal finance is a powerful educational tool that can do so much for students, including helping them avoid debt and learn topics such as algebra in a more engaging way,” Thurmond said. “Through our partnership with Next Gen Personal Finance, we have been able to make a great start on this effort. We are providing grants to school districts to add staff who can incorporate personal finance into school curricula and providing paid professional development to help teachers learn more about personal finance efforts.”
Thurmond also plans to get input from students on how to expand personal finance and education efforts in the state. Thurmond intends to host panels with students who participate in economics competitions through the California Council on Economic Education and with students he meets on his listening tour.
Although 18 states have a personal finance graduation requirement, research shows there is tremendous opportunity and great interest to build beyond the 27 percent of California students who have access to an elective course in personal finance. According to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted this month, 85 percent of Californians think all high school students should be guaranteed to take a basic course in personal finance, and 88 percent believe it is very important for high school students to at least be taught this subject.
“There is no stronger advocate for financial education in the state of California than State Superintendent Tony Thurmond,” said Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance. “I am confident that his leadership will make a guaranteed personal finance course a reality for all California high schoolers soon.”
Anyone interested in participating in efforts to bring a personal finance requirement to California should contact the Superintendent’s Initiatives team at SuperintendentInitiatives@cde.ca.gov.