Can't Figure Out Town Budget? Blame Your Education


On Monday, May 6, 2024, State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, State Senator Patrick O’Connor, Representative Ryan Hamilton, and the Office of Economic Empowerment hosted a policy briefing on financial education to highlight the current landscape in Massachusetts.

The briefing called attention to the long-term benefits of integrating financial literacy into school curricula. The program included a presentation by John Pelletier, Director of the Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy, which gave Massachusetts an “F” grade in its 2023 National Report Card on High School Financial Literacy.

While Massachusetts has always been a leader in education, innovation, and social progress, this grade illustrates the disappointing lack of financial literacy education in the state’s high school curricula. In the US, 25 states require a semester-long financial education course, including neighboring states Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.

"The most equitable way to offer financial education is through our schools,” said State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg. “We must do everything we can to level the playing field for all students in Massachusetts."

“One of the most important topics that we can be educated on regardless of our age is financial literacy,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “Understanding the skills behind budgeting, applying for loans or credit, saving, and spending can pave the way to success and the attainment of future goals. Providing our youth with the knowledge that they need to understand personal finances and how to handle overall expenses is critical for their future success. I appreciate having Treasurer Goldberg as a partner on this legislation. Her leadership on financial literacy has been so valuable.”

“The current patchwork system of courses on this topic furthers economic inequality in the Commonwealth, where underserved student populations are less likely to be exposed to financial literacy education at school or at home,” said Representative Ryan Hamilton (D-Haverhill & Methuen). “By designating time in the classroom and experiential learning opportunities, Massachusetts can equip students, educators and parents with the knowledge and skills they need to better their financial futures.”

Research presented during the briefing shows that lower financial literacy rates are associated with lower financial well-being. According to the most recent findings, people with very little understanding of personal finance are six times more likely to have difficulty making ends meet, three times more likely to be debt constrained, five times more likely to lack one month of emergency savings, and four times more likely to spend at least 10 hours per week dealing with personal finance issues.

Providing financial education for our students is essential to close the gaps that exist between those who have access to knowledge and resources, and those who do not. It is about giving every student, regardless of their background, race, and income level, an equal opportunity to thrive and prosper.

About the Office of Economic Empowerment
Treasurer Goldberg created the Office of Economic Empowerment with the deliberate goal of implementing a range of economic empowerment initiatives that include closing the race and gender wage gap, addressing racial equity, increasing access to financial education, and creating pathways to economically stable futures for all residents across the state.

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