In order to teach students about the importance of money management at a young age, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Angela McKnight, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Eliana Pintor Marin, Jamel Holley, Benjie Wimberly and Annette Quijano that requires school districts in New Jersey to teach financial literacy to elementary and middle school students was signed into law by Acting Governor Sheila Oliver on Thursday.
“One of the most important lessons a person can learn is how to manage their money. Many young people go into adulthood knowing little about finances, and end up making decisions that cost them in the long run,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “Teaching our kids early about the importance of managing their money and making sound financial decisions can prevent them from making costly mistakes and set them on the right financial path.”
The new law (A-1414) would direct the State Board of Education to require school districts to incorporate financial literacy instruction into the curriculum for students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“Many young people don’t understand the importance of being financially responsible until they’ve already taken a few missteps. These poor decisions can hurt their credit when they are branching out on their own and need it the most,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “We don’t expect them to be experts, but they should have a basic understanding of how money works and how it affects their lives.”
“The earlier we instill this message in our children, the better financial decisions they will make as adults,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “It is not uncommon for students to have their first job in high school, and by teaching financial lessons in grades kindergarten through eight, they will be ready for the responsibility of earning their own income as that time comes.”
“The purpose of the instruction will be to provide elementary and middle school students with the basic financial literacy necessary for sound financial decision-making,” said Holley (D-Union). “By instilling these lessons in students’ minds even before high school, they will undoubtedly be more prepared for when they are in college which is, for many, the first time they are financially independent.”
“This is an added benefit that will hopefully go a long way toward teaching young people how to make sound financial decisions as they get older,” said Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). “The earlier students learn how to handle their money, the better prepared they will be to live independently and responsibly as they get older.”
“The instruction must include information about debt which helps at an appropriate time when so many students are taking out college loans,” said Quijano (D-Union). “By providing students with a plan for how to handle debt, they will be more prepared for when they graduate college and are faced with significant loan payments.”
Under the new law, the instruction must include content on budgeting, savings, credit, debt, insurance, investment, and other issues associated with personal financial responsibility as determined by the state board.
The state board must provide curriculum and sample instructional materials that may be used by school districts to support the implementation of the financial literacy instruction requirement.