Personal Finance Lessons Now in NJ Middle Schools

By Karla Liu, MSM intern
@DMFLF

At the beginning of January, the State of New Jersey signed a bill that requires middle schools to incorporate basic financial instruction. According to John Reitmeyer’s article on NJSpotlight.com, “...its adoption comes in response to concerns about serious economic challenges faced by young adults, including the high cost of college tuition that saddles many with hefty debt obligations.” It was signed into law by Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, who stated, “Financial responsibility is an important acquired and learned-life-skill. It is a skill that must be a necessary part of our educational curriculum.” Although this sounds like groundbreaking news, Hannah Adely’s article on northjersey.com reveals that this requirement has actually been around since 2014. Adely wrote, “Under existing state education standards adopted in 2014, middle school students must learn specific topics in money matters and personal finance by eighth grade”, but with this new legislation, lessons on personal finance must be covered in all three grades. In addition, “The new law also calls for the Department of Education to offer instruction resources if districts want help” (Adely). Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, who helped sponsor the bill, explained that “while there are financial literacy standards in place for middle school students in New Jersey, this bill reinforces such education by providing a uniform curriculum with examples, demonstrations and sample instructional materials that school districts can use…”.

The fact that the standards have been around since 2014 actually raises some red flags about the implementation of the current curriculum. According to a 2018 survey entitled the "Survey of the States", which was initiated by the Council for Economic Education (CEE), the numbers pertaining to current students regarding personal finance education and their level of financial literacy are actually on the decline. One of the main reasons for the dismal numbers is that personal financial education is rarely, if ever, being taught comprehensively in the schools. Resource-challenged schools struggle to provide the bare minimum in terms of what is required yearly.

This is where DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation can help. Our unique and interactive FitKit curriculum was designed to target today’s youth, help them learn about personal finances, and prepare them for a lifetime of financial responsibility. It was created by educators for educators, it is easily accessible and can be customized to fit the needs of any classroom. What schools will get is a 60-hour curriculum along with teacher guides, student books, peer-to-peer videos, and multimedia features. We cover major financial topics such as income and careers, taxes, budgeting, credit, and more. To date, we have reached over 5,750 students and have increased financial literacy scores by 40% for students who participated in our FitKit program.  The best part is that our financial literacy programs are offered at no cost to students. With the increasing cost of living and higher education, our students need to know what they are up against. Our mission is to provide these young adults with the knowledge and tools they need to fully understand their finances in order to lead a successful life.

Adely, Hannan. “Touted New Law aside, Financial Literacy in NJ Middle Schools Isn't New.”
NorthJersey.com, NorthJersey.com, 8 Jan. 2019,
www.northjersey.com/story/news/2019/01/08/financial-literacy-middle-schools-isnt-new-despite-new-nj-law/2485417002/.www.northjersey.com/story/news/2019/01/08/financial-literacy-middle-schools-isnt-new-despite-new-nj-law/2485417002/.

 
Reitmeyer, John. “For Stretched NJ Students, Help on the Way in Learning How to Manage
Finances .” NJ Spotlight, NJ Spotlight, 4 Jan. 2018,
www.njspotlight.com/stories/19/01/03/for-stretched-nj-students-help-on-the-way-in-learning-how-to-manage-finances/.