OP-ED: California Must Fix a Major Educational Failure


Photo by Owen Davis

From its founding in 1850 to its prosperous modern-day position, California has exhibited many achievements relative to even the most progressive and dominant regions. Whether it be its ranking as the fourth largest world economy or its recognition as one of the most culturally diverse places in the world, California carries a repute as one of the most influential US states. Yet, despite this distinguished reputation, California is greatly lacking in one area—namely, its absence of financial literacy requirements in secondary education.

In spite of the high-ranking educational systems in place, California students in their impressionable years are failing to learn one of the most practical skills in everyday life. The dichotomy of California’s bottom 20% ranking in financial literacy to its top 5 position in higher education attests to this glaring deficiency (1,2). Evidently, California’s education system is failing one of its major responsibilities—preparing students for an independent future.

As one of three states without personal finance as a K-12 standard, California fails to take proper measures to ensure its younger generations are well-educated in the economical choices they make (3). From the average student loan debt of $37,084 to the nearly 2.9 million mortgaged homeowners behind on their payments, California is simply not up to standard in educating its residents about the factors behind some of the greatest financial decisions they’ll ever make (4, 5).

Yet, this issue is not irreparable. California should look to the examples of its fellow states such as Georgia, Idaho, and Texas, all of which have enacted legislation that requires financial education at the high school level. If California follows suit, many of the consequences of inadequate economic education can and would be resolved. 

An example is a report published by the Federal Reserve Board, which stated that students “…exposed to financial education mandates had higher credit scores and lower delinquency rates” when compared to states without those mandates (6). By implementing curricular personal finance courses, California would prepare its students to make a host of more financially secure choices, including raising credit scores, taking out sustainable loans, and growing their savings. Financial education would not only prevent students from making financial mistakes but also push them to make educated decisions to better their financial situation.

For these reasons and so many more, California residents want this failure resolved. According to a survey by the San Francisco Chronicle, 85% of Californians believe a personal finance course should be a guaranteed course in high school (7).

As members of the near or already voting-age population, our role should be to ensure students, both current and future, have the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. Without financial education, we cannot ensure that future. For the continuous prosperity of the state, many are imploring California’s legislature to take immediate remedial action. 



(1) Debt.com

(2) US News

(3) Council for Economic Education

(4) Forbes

(5) Mercury News

(6) Federal Reserve Board

(7) San Francisco Chronicle