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Personal finance education now guaranteed for Rhode Island students

A bill was signed into law yesterday at Tolman High School that will develop instruction standards on personal finance or consumer economic topics including installment purchasing, budgeting, credit and the law, employment and income, saving, investing, and money management.

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner joined Governor Dan McKee, Senate Education Committee Chair Sandra Cano, House Deputy Whip Mia Ackerman, Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien, Department of Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, Pawtucket Schools Superintendent Cheryl McWilliams, Tolman High School Principal C. Christopher Savastano, Hanatha Konte, a graduating Senior at Tolman High School  and financial literacy advocates from across the state at a ceremonial signing of financial literacy legislation proposed by his Office which guarantees that all students in Rhode Island a financial literacy education prior to graduating high school.  

“Financial literacy is key to a young person’s future success,” said Governor Dan McKee. “This legislation paves the way for our public high schools to provide young people with the skills they need to achieve their financial goals. It will also help us ensure that every Rhode Island high school student is equipped with tools to prepare them for economic opportunity after graduation. Thank you to everyone who played a role in getting this bill over the finish line for the students of Rhode Island.” 

“Today, I am proud to stand alongside so many advocates as we choose to provide our students the financial skills they need to build stable and successful lives,” said Treasurer Magaziner. “This law is the culmination of years of hard work by educators and students, along with our partners in the General Assembly, and several community organizations across the state. Guaranteeing personal finance education for all students will have a tremendous impact on the long-term financial security of every Rhode Islander, while increasing economic opportunity across the state.” 

The legislation was introduced at the request of Treasurer Magaziner with the support and close collaboration of Senate Education Chair Sandra Cano, House Deputy Whip Mia Ackerman, House Education Chair Joseph McNamara,  as well as community partners across sectors.  

“How can we expect our children to become financially successful adults if we do not teach them the core aspects of our financial system when they are in school?” said Senate Education Committee Chair Sandra Cano. “This bill will ensure that our children leave the public school system with a firm and knowledgeable grasp on basic financial concepts that will help them succeed in their adult lives.” 

In 2018, Treasurer Magaziner published a report which highlighted the need for personal finance education in all Rhode Island public high schools. “Fallen Behind” detailed the accessibility of personal finance education throughout the state as well as opportunities to improve course offerings.  
“Many young people just don’t understand the complexities of credit and debt — what it means to have a mortgage that’s under water, or how high interest rates can bury them in debt for their entire lives,” said House Deputy Whip Mia Ackerman. “They don’t understand that paying the minimum on their credit card bills will keep them paying forever.” 

Currently, thirty-seven states guarantee their students receive financial literacy education; prior to the passage of this legislation Rhode Island did not. With the passage of this bill, Rhode Island ensures all high school students have access to standards-aligned personal finance instruction while also providing educators with high-quality resources and professional development.  “Financial literacy is a fundamental life skill that will position RI students for success throughout their lives,” said  President of RI Jump$tart Coalition and RI Council for Economic Education Dr. Margaret Brooks. “We are thrilled to see this important legislation signed into law today. By requiring personal finance to be taught in schools, RI is demonstrating leadership and commitment to high-quality educational outcomes for all students. We look forward to supporting the implementation of this legislation by regularly offering no-cost professional development programs for K-12 teachers.” 

Business Educator at East Greenwich High School Dr. Patricia Page added, “Personal finance education is vital instruction for our students to succeed on any path they choose upon graduation. Since 2014, I have advocated for financial literacy to be taught in all of our schools statewide and I am grateful to see this bill signed to ensure all of our students have access to high-quality personal finance instruction that will equip them with skills that will prepare them for a successful financial future.” 

Personal finance education will be  implemented by the RI Department of Education in preparation of the 2022- 2023 school year. 

Legislation Championed by Treasurer’s Office Guarantees Rhode Island Students a Financial Literacy Education

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