Treasurer Goldberg Provides Testimony to Joint Committee on Education Regarding Financial Education in Schools Bill
Today, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg joined the Joint Committee on Education for a virtual hearing to testify in support of House Bill 42: An Act requiring financial education in schools. The Treasurer's Office of Economic Empowerment commissioned a report to identify which public schools in Massachusetts are teaching financial literacy. To ensure all students have access to financial literacy skills, Treasurer Goldberg filed this bill to require that financial education be offered in every public school across the Commonwealth. Below are the Treasurer's remarks prepared for delivery:
REMARKS OF TREASURER DEBORAH B. GOLDBERG
Joint Committee on Education
State House, Boston, MA 02133
Monday, September 13, 2021
As prepared for delivery:
Chair Lewis, Chair Peisch, members of the committee: good morning and nice to see you all. I am happy to be here today to testify in support of my bill HB 42, An Act requiring financial education in schools.
As you may be aware, financial education and access to economic security and stability are foundational to the work I do every day at Treasury. In my Office of Economic Empowerment, we are constantly innovating and exploring ways to provide tools and resources for people to close the wage gap and wealth gap for women, people of color, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. Our work is important for every stage of life, from our BabySteps Savings plan to our financial wellness workshops for seniors.
When thinking about building a more equitable future for our children, requiring that schools in Massachusetts offer financial education from kindergarten through twelfth grade is a crucial step towards achieving stability and security in the future.
My bill would require financial education to be offered in all Massachusetts schools and establishes a trust fund to finance course materials and teaching resources as needed. The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education will be in control of the fund and would allocate its resources to ensure all schools can afford to provide these essential skills. The implementation date would be one school year after enactment, to ensure DESE and school districts had the time to implement the change. Also, my office is prepared to partner with non-profits and other private entities to provide professional development and training for teachers.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) currently allows financial education to be offered, but there are schools across Massachusetts that do not currently give their students this opportunity. This bill will empower DESE to require that these critical skills be provided and enable them to support districts that need assistance to meet new requirements.
The research is clear. Students who receive this education have been more likely to save, budget, invest, and increase their credit scores. Given the past year and a half of economic uncertainty and devastation, there is no better time to ensure all Massachusetts students learn foundational financial skills so they can be prepared for a life that often has uncertainty.
Currently, there are only 12 states and the District of Columbia that have no state level requirement that schools teach or offer personal financial literacy content to students. Sadly, Massachusetts is one of them.
Why make it mandatory? While many schools offer these programs, there is significant variance in quality and consistency. This is yet another equity issue: Low-income people are more vulnerable to financial downturns than those with high-incomes and have less opportunity to attain these necessary tools. This obvious difference has only been exacerbated during the pandemic, as we all know.
A requirement that all students be offered financial education will help address this imbalance. Utilizing the school systems allows us to reach Massachusetts' youngest residents of all incomes and backgrounds.
Data shows that high-school students who receive financial education are more likely to display positive financial behaviors. For example, after financial education mandates were implemented in Georgia, Idaho, and Texas, severe absences from school declined and credit scores increased.
Research also shows us that students who can attain these skills are more likely to display positive financial behaviors.
We are presently facing increased uncertainty as we try to heal and rebound as a state and a country. Now more than ever, our young people need the tools to attain a healthy, vibrant, and financially secure life. Access to these tools should be free and easily available to every student in grades K-12.
Thank you for having me today and now I am happy to answer any questions.