Knowledge deficit

We acknowledge that many Americans could use a bit more practical knowledge when it comes to personal finance. Take, for instance, the people who go tens of thousands of dollars in debt paying for college degrees only to end up with jobs in the retail or fast-food industries.

Then there are — or at least were, prior to 2008 — people who take out home mortgages, although their income makes it unlikely that they will be able to keep up with their payments. Then there are the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, which have mandated a big increase in the demand for health care services without a compensating increase in the supply of those services and expect the cost of health care to decrease.

So, at least at first, it appears state Sen. Dorothy Hukill is on to something. The Port Orange Republican wants the state to mandate that public school students take a course in practical finances, things like balancing a checkbook and managing personal expenses. “You have to have some basics,” Hukill said in explaining why she wants students to earn finance credits in the subject before being able to graduate.

Asked about Hukill’s idea, the Florida Department of Education estimated the cost of the financial course at $140,000 a year if offered online, to $11 million, thanks in part to textbook costs, for classroom instruction.

Maybe personal finance information could be worked into an existing course students have to take in order to graduate. We’re just not sure the public schools need another mandate because they are struggling with their current instructional load.

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