Financial literacy requirement dealt a blow in House

KU Statehouse Wire Service

TOPEKA — The House Education Committee dealt a blow to advocates of a financial literacy requirement in high schools Thursday. After lengthy debate, the committee tabled House Bill 2475, which would mandate a financial literacy class as a requirement for graduation.

All members of the committee agreed that the subject teaches critical skills that students need to have after graduation but issues such as schedule disruption persisted.

“It may not be appropriate for us to even have perception of mandating it at the level of  junior and senior level and have because I know of a lot of kids who have their whole schedule completely full and to have them drop something to have this option is not fair,” said Rep. Shanti Gandhi, R-Topeka. “I don’t think we can really go through with this because there are some loose ends that we need to really polish up. I don’t think that can happen. I think we may be going a little too quick.”

If passed, the bill would be put into effect in July, just in time for the 2014-15 school year. Rep. Melissa Rooker, R-Fairway, argued that while it may not be a disruption for teachers, it will be for students, as they are already enrolled in classes for next semester.  Still, others said the bill is a matter that needs to be taken care of sooner, rather than later.

In addition to opposing the bill, Rooker was concerned with an amendment that would allow school districts to offer a personal financial literacy assessment for students in lieu of the semester-long course.  Her main concern was the cost and whether it would be stepping on the toes of the State Board of Education.

The test would be created by the State Board of Education and would have to coincide with state standards. While there are currently some financial literacy questions on math assessments, there is not a single existing assessment on the subject.

“So don’t think that it’s already here and all we have to do now is just transfer it,” said Rep. Carolyn Bridges, D-Wichita. “Test development is a big deal.”

The amendment passed, but issues with the bill being a mandate forced the committee to table it with a 9-8 vote.