Improve financial literacy

You step up to the counter, the clerk rings up your purchase, you hand him money … then watch, half in amusement, half in annoyance, as he informs you, “Computer’s down. Can’t make change.”

In your head, you have done the math and know how much change you are due. The clerk, without a computer, is lost.

Many Ohioans have had the experience. Too many young people in jobs that should require basic skills are ignorant of simple arithmetic.

Mentioning that tends to upset many educators. And, in fairness, it needs to be emphasized that the vast majority of high school graduates have good skills in math and many other subjects.

Often, their homework is beyond what their parents can help with.

Still, lack of basic financial skills among many young area residents is a legitimate worry.

A Champlain College study of personal finance education in schools throughout the nation gave Ohio a B grade for our efforts. Just seven other states scored as well or better. Utah got the only A-plus.

Most people, including educators and policymakers, agree our schools need to be better. In Ohio, courses on personal finance concepts are listed among high school graduation requirements. The Champlain report states it is not clear, though, how the state measures student achievement or monitors school district implementation of courses in financial literacy. Although such courses are required for graduation, it is up to each district to determine which specific courses are offered.

Personal finance is one area that should be emphasized in any general school improvement campaign. Frankly, anything less than an A-plus effort on it is an enormous disservice to our young people, who may pay for their lack of knowledge as adults.

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