O’Brien proposes financial literacy measure

O'Brien said the education is important for children to receive early, so that they make smart financial decisions when they are adults

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio may start teaching students the value of money, so they stop thinking a credit card is a magic wand.

Students learn basic math in school, but now they may get help applying those principles.

State Rep. Michael O’Brien is co-sponsoring House Bill 391 to create the SmartOhio Financial Literacy Program, teaching students to be responsible with personal finances.

According to the legislation, the regional education programs would be operated by the University of Cincinnati, in partnership with the Ohio Council on Economic Education and The Ohio State University Extension for the 2016-2017 school year. It would be geared toward students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

O’Brien said the education is important for children to receive early, so that they make smart financial decisions when they are adults.

“Forty-one percent of all Ohioans make just the minimum payment on their credit card balance each month,” said O’Brien.

In addition, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority study from 2012 shows Ohio has the fourth-worst financial literacy in the country.

Those type of statistics are what is driving the change to teach better money habits in school. Research suggests waiting until high school is too late.

O’Brien said he has the perfect example with his 14-year old son.

“Three days into his ownership of a smartphone, he used a month’s worth of data, and without the financial knowledge of how much this is costing his parents,” he said.

The legislation would fund the $318,000 pilot project, allowing for the training of 500 teachers. If the pilot program works, the goal is to make it a mandatory program.

The program would teach students how to develop and maintain a budget, understand credit and investments and how to use the banking system. The skills would be taught as part of the existing mathematics and English language arts curriculum.

“Part of the educational process is to educate children to be civic-minded and responsible adults, and this is a key to not just making them responsible adults, but financially responsible adults,” said O’Brien.

The program is developed by education experts and focuses on basic concepts. It is not designed to promote financial institutions or products.

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