Finance course should be part ofgraduation requirements, experts say

ST. PAUL (AP) — Personal finance is a missing link in Minnesota students’ education and should be required under proposed graduation standards, several people testified Thursday before an administrative law judge.
“Teen-agers must become competent consumers” said Todd Streeter, an education consultant who writes financial management courses for schools. “Financial illiteracy is as much a detriment to society as the inability to read and write.”
Sharon Danes, a professor of family economics at the University, agreed, saying that parents generally don’t talk about or teach finances at home.
“They talk about money even less than they talk about sex,” she said.
Sen. Steve Dille, R-Daschle, has introduced a bill that would make personal finance a requirement. But he testified Thursday that he would rather the Minnesota Board of Education adopt the mandate than the Legislature.
The proposed graduation standards, also called the profile of learning, would require students to prove their knowledge in several areas, including culture, composition, applied math and resource management. Finance management would not be a requirement under the plan.
Bob Wedl, commissioner of the Children, Families and Learning department, said that the department cannot squeeze every aspect of education into the required standards.
“We had to draw the line somehwere,” he said.
Administrative Law Judge George Beck likely will submit his recommendations on the standards in April. In order for the Board of Education to change its graduation rules, an independent state judge has to approve them first. The board can make minor changes to the judge’s recommendations, Wedl said.
The standards would take effect next fall if approved.
Former state Rep. Allen Quist, a Republican candidate for governor, said the entire process should be scrapped. He sent a letter to the judge saying that the education board’s guidelines prohibit significant changes to the proposed standards.
“This means that citizen testimony is strictly after-the-fact and will not be allowed to contribute to meaningful changes,” Quist wrote.
He also was concerned that lawmakers had never debated the rules.
James Gilson, a former English professor who is writing a book on education, also complained about the standards. He said at the hearing that they would require more abstract subjects at the expense of the basics.
“For a vast majority of students, this is a lowering of standards,” he said.
Cindy Klingel, a graduation standards coordinator with Mankato Public Schools, complained that the plan doesn’t give schools enough time to implement the new standards.
Written comments on the plan can be submitted to Beck until Feb. 25.