Kentucky moved a step closer this week to making financial literacy a graduation requirement.
The House Education Committee heard testimony Tuesday on House Bill 132, sponsored by state Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown. The bill requires all students to take a financial literacy course before graduating high school.
DuPlessis said in his opening remarks the purpose of school is to prepare students for adulthood so they can be successful.
“One of the things we sorely lack is to educate our children on how to manage their monies, manage their households and to stay out of financial debt that it causes,” he said. “ ... With financial literacy, we seek to end that problem.”
DuPlessis said later in the hearing the course would not replace a requirement, but take away an elective credit for students. The bill stipulates the requirement would start in the 2020-21 school year.
The bill was voted out of the committee Tuesday with two pass votes.
Elizabethtown High School teacher Alex Todd testified in support of the bill along with a teacher from Bullitt East High School. Todd teaches a financial literacy elective and has advocated for making the course a requirement.
“I’m honored to testify in what I truly believe can be one of the most impactful pieces of education legislation passed in a long, long time in this state,” he said.
State Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, has proposed a similar bill in the Senate.
Todd cited national and local polls that show broad support for the requirement from the community and students.
“This is not a controversial topic,” he said. “This is not a political topic. It’s a common sense topic. If we want to fix the financial literacy problem in the state, HB 132 will lay the foundation to doing that.”
Todd said in his testimony that when current students graduate, they are entering an economy that comes at them quickly and a financial world that treats them like prey.
“House Bill 132 can go a long way to at least making this a level playing field for them,” he said.
Todd said the course would give students an understanding of how money works. His current class uses Dave Ramsey curriculum for personal finance.
“If we want financial literacy, we have to get away from the notion that this is a privilege to get to learn how money works,” Todd said. “It is not a privilege. It is an essential life skill. An essential life skill we have ignored too long in this state.”
Committee chairman Rep. Jay Carney, R-Campbellsville, said during the hearing 130 schools in the state are teaching a course on financial literacy.
“We’re trying to find a way to make sure we can cover this for our young folks, so they don’t get a lot of debt when they are young,” he said.
Carney asked Todd about the costs associated with the course. Todd said the curriculum costs about $20 per student, which includes a workbook. He said Elizabethtown High School has community sponsors that help with the class.