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Financial literacy growing May shows nearly 73 percent of students surveyed resorted to at least one “risky” financial behavior, such as maxing out credit cards or not paying bills on time. Nearly one in five of those surveyed has used some extreme strategy for meeting day-to-day financial needs, such as taking out payday loans or using one credit card to pay another. Financial literacy is not required curriculum in California — and the most recent legislative attempt to make it a requirement was vetoed by the governor in January. Presently, 12 states require financial literacy courses for graduation. Several studies have concluded that students living in states requiring specific financial education coursework had higher overall test scores than students in other states. Stories by Sherry Posnick-Goodwin • Photos by Scott Buschman Now there is a renewed push for schools to tackle the subject in light of mass layoffs, investors being scammed out of their life savings, the near stock market collapse and the foreclosure cri- sis. In fact, says a member of the Presi- dent’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, the country’s recent economic woes have provided the best teachable moment to inform young people about finance since the Great Depression. Last year businesses, educators, gov- ernment of f icial s and community groups gathered for the biennial Cali- fornia Summit on Financial Literacy. Co-sponsored by the California Society of Public Accountants and the Califor- nia Jump$tart Coalition, the summit’s goal was to find ways to help combat fi- nancial illiteracy in California. “As participants in this summit, we welcomed the opportunity to come to- gether to discuss construc- tive ways we can help en- sure that California’s young people have the ski l ls to manage their personal fi- nances responsibly,” said Jack O’Connell, state su- perintendent of public in- struction, in a joint state- ment with personal finance expert Jean Chatzky. “If we fail, we not only put this generation of students at risk, but future generations and the stability of our economy.” Teaching dollars and sense Economics teacher Vicky Banks asks her students to pick out a future career they might pursue based on their skills, interests and salary. Students pour over the list of careers in their workbook and highlight those that are most ap- pealing. Some of the jobs require years of college and others do not. Salaries are also listed. Many of the students at Hoover High Ellen Towers San Diego Education Association School in San Diego think they’ ll be living lavishly until the next part of the lesson: taking their net pay and using a calculator to deduct expens- es — already determined by a percentage of income — for rent, groceries, utilities, transportation, health care, education and entertain- ment. Students must also put money aside for savings and emergencies. It’s the f irst t ime most students have ever budget- ed. Many gasp as they discover that what once seemed like “lots of money” quickly dwindles into much less. Savannah Rock chooses to be a mul- left: Hoover High School student Savannah Rock learns the value of a buck in economics class. 20 California Educator | november 2009 timedia specialist for a “huge salary” of $51,000 per year gross pay. But she learns quickly that at the end of each month, she’ l l be lucky to have even $1,000 left over. A study by Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students (APLUS) released in

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