The 4th R: Real Life


我们每天发表一篇文章来表彰第五届年度学生社论大赛的前 10 名获奖者。

下面是16岁的Jason Schnall的文章。

Who’s to blame for ballooning credit card debt and student loans? The public education system, perhaps. American high school students can recite Shakespeare’s sonnets, derive advanced calculus theorems, and explain the Chinese spheres of influence. Yet these same students know little to nothing about economics and personal finance. They know of income tax only as the fifth square on the Monopoly board.

Currently, only five states — Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia — require personal finance courses for high school students. The results speak for themselves: four of these states rank in the top 20 of best average credit card debt. This is a logical correlation. Learning about debt will help someone stay out of it. Yet economists continually blame consumerism and tactics of credit card companies rather than addressing the cause: a fundamental void in our education system.

When students graduate high school, they are thrust into adulthood, whether they join the work force or pursue higher education. They assume immense financial responsibilities almost immediately. How can the government expect 19-year-olds to complete tax forms if they’ve never learned about them in school? Young adults who lack basic knowledge of economics and personal finance are vulnerable to fraud, debt, commercialism and worse.

In the 2012 New York Times article “Back to Classroom for Skills not Taught in High School,” Matthew R. Warren discusses a personal finance course in the Bronx where students learn vital information not taught in their high schools. Warren quotes 22-year-old student Regina Rice, “I can’t manage my money … Yesterday, I bought two pairs of headphones, and I don’t even know why.”

Ideally, parents with lifelong experience would teach their children about personal finance. But, 61 percent of parents only discuss money when prompted by their children. The average American parent lacks the knowledge necessary to teach this information, as many of them live in severe debt themselves, including the 32 percent of U.S. households that carry credit card debt.

The solution? A required course — Personal Finance and the Modern Economy — taught to second-semester high school seniors. It’s vital that students learn basic information about taxes, insurance, mortgages, credit, loans, personal banking, consumerism and the stock market before they are forced to learn it the hard way.

Financial literacy should not be a privilege reserved for children of the Wall Street elite. It is a skill that must be taught, just as vital in today’s economy as reading, writing and arithmetic. So why do we keep treating it like an elective?

Works Cited

“Average Credit Card Debt in America: 2017 Facts & Figures.” ValuePenguin, ValuePenguin, 21 March 2018.

Desjardins, Jeff. “Chart: Are Today’s Students Prepared to Make Financial Decisions?” Visual Capitalist, 29 Sept. 2017.

“T. Rowe Price: Parents Are Likely To Pass Down Good And Bad Financial Habits To Their Kids.” T.Rowe Price, 23 March 2017.

Warren, Mathew R. “Financial Literacy Class Offers Skills Not Taught in School.” The New York Times, 27 Jan. 2012.