What are kids learning about money?

By Rodney Ballance

The Financial Leadership Academy


I encourage every one of you to contact your local school board, and demand that they implement at least an optional class about personal finance.

Over the past several years, I’ve been blessed to have worked with numerous teachers of a local public school system regarding their personal finances. The former superintendent of our county’s school allowed me access to the teachers, who wanted to learn more about how to maximize their family’s financial positions.

As I worked with some of these folks to help them plan for retirement and others to help them avoid bankruptcy, there was one recurring theme. Every one of these teachers asked me to teach their students the same thing I was teaching them.

Every one of these teachers found themselves not understanding enough about how money works, or where to find competent guidance. They told me if this next generation doesn’t receive reliable information early in their lives, they’re afraid that our nation will suffer unprecedented economic challenges.

What are we teaching our children about responsibility and self-sufficiency when even the federal government is living beyond its means?

What are our kids learning about saving when their parents, teachers and others in positions of authority don’t exemplify restraint? What message is being sent when every day in the news they hear about the possibility of default from state and local governments?

People continue asking me why school systems don’t offer some type of financial education programs. I developed a program for students starting with fifth grade, but school officials say there just isn’t enough time in the school day to implement another program. They still provide the classes mandated by the U.S. Department of Education. Local schools have to provide these classes or lose federal and state funding.

Apparently someone understands economics in the school system — or maybe it’s coercion they understand. When someone tells you they’ll only give you money if you do what they dictate to you, that’s coercion.

Maybe the federal government is more concerned with keeping people in line through the purse strings, than implementing curriculum that might produce adults who will move our nation toward a sustainable economy.

I don’t mean to be political here, but there is a fine line between effective monetary policy and politics. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, most of us on both sides of the aisle understand something must be done to correct America’s financial situation.
Wouldn’t we be better positioned to avoid mistakes of our past by teaching children early about earning and saving money? My grandfather, just like many of your relatives, lived during the Great Depression. He knew what it was like to go without and to work hard for everything he had. He took nothing for granted, and he taught us how a dollar saved is a dollar earned.

Most people today can’t understand why people like my grandfather would wash and re-use Ziploc bags, or only order from a restaurant where they had a coupon. Most people today wouldn’t take the time to fix a lawn chair that broke. They’d just throw it away and buy a new one, even if they had to use credit to buy it.

Maybe this is what’s wrong with our society today. If we no longer find an item convenient or easy to use it becomes disposable. This is causing our society itself to become disposable, unless we change the path very soon. The only way to change that path is through education.

I encourage every one of you to contact your local school board, and demand that they implement at least an optional class about personal finance. If we have even a few kids learning effective financial strategies, they can teach others. Winston Churchill once said, “If you have knowledge let others light their candles with it.”

Don’t we need to start lighting some candles?

Tell them that an effective personal finance program would include several classes that could qualify for those federal funds. The curriculum I designed has elements of history, geography, mathematics, sociology, home economics and even auto shop. Yes, auto shop and wood shop are important so the soon to be adults will be able to repair things, not just throw them away.

Maybe there’s a young person, possibly even your child or grandchild, sitting in an elementary school this year, who will be exposed to a financial class where they can learn how money works. That young man or young lady eventually learns enough about money that one day they create an economic policy for America that enables us to return to a respectable position in the world.

Maybe even become the world’s superpower it was when my grandfather’s generation was in control.

We need that young person today more than ever, so we must start asking, what are our kids learning about money today?

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