BOSTON – On March 22, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in voting in favor of S.2355, An Act to promote and enhance civic engagement, and S.2343, An act relative to financial literacy in schools.
S.2355 enacts a hands-on and experiential approach to fostering civic engagement. The bill incorporates project-based learning components, encourages the instruction of civic competencies – including news and media literacy – and provides extracurricular civic-participation opportunities.
“Now more than ever, it is critically important to encourage civic engagement in our public schools,” said Senator Friedman. “Empowering our young leaders with the tools they need to succeed and to take on the difficult challenges of the world is vitally important for the future of our nation and the state of our democracy.”
The curriculum is made possible by the Civics Project Trust Fund, which will provide funding for professional development and for the further development of curriculum frameworks.
Friedman also voted in favor of S.2343, which would allow financial literacy to be integrated within existing curricula in public schools, improving students’ knowledge on saving, investing, insurance, banking, inflation, and other financial matters.
The complexity of the American financial services market has made millions of consumers vulnerable to misleading and fraudulent business practices, which has bankrupted families, ruined communities, and contributed to the “Great Recession.”
According to a recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data, total household debt in the United States rose to an all-time high of $13.15 trillion by the end of 2017. Mortgage debt constitutes $8.88 trillion of total debt, while credit debt accounts for $834 billion. 2017 was the fifth consecutive year of annual household debt growth with increases in mortgage, student, auto, and credit card debt.
“For far too long, financial literacy has not been a part of our public schools’ curricula,” said Senator Friedman. “As the economy continues to grow and our state becomes more expensive to live in, it’s imperative that our youth gain an understanding of how to properly manage their finances so that they make responsible financial decisions in their personal and professional lives.”
The bill directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to create and implement standards and objectives on personal financial literacy for grades K-12. This would include information on loans, borrowing money, interest, credit card debt, online commerce, rights and responsibilities of renting or buying a home, saving, investing and planning for retirement, banking and financial services, balancing a checkbook, state and federal taxes, and charitable giving.
At least 20 states now require students to take a personal finance course or personal finance included in an economics course as a high school graduation requirement. By incorporating financial literacy in K-12 education, Massachusetts residents will be introduced to financial concepts earlier in life, and be better equipped to make prudent decisions based on their needs and budget considerations.
Both bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.
To continue tracking the bills, please visit the Legislature’s website, www.malegislature.gov.