TALLAHASSEE -- It may not be enough to know economics or physics anymore. Lawmakers want to make it mandatory for high-schoolers to take a financial literacy course teaching them how to manage money and protect their credit scores.
Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-DeLand, announced the bill Tuesday in the Capitol alongside a cadre of business interests, including lobbyists for the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America.
The bill, part of a movement called "The Money Course," would require a half-credit, full semester financial literacy course starting next fall for high school students. It comes on the heels of some studies suggesting students were not prepared to handle their own finances when they left for college or entered the workforce.
"These are skills you do not have naturally. You have to be taught these skills," Hukill said.
The House sponsor, Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, said students were bombarded with "way too much information" in existing courses such as economics that cover personal finance. She said the class would be "easy" to implement.
No analysis on the bill's fiscal impact has been completed yet, but the bill would lower the number of electives students need to complete from 8 credits to 7.5 elective credits.
The bill (SB 212/HB 367) is a recommendation from a group called the Florida Council on Economic Education, whose membership includes Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, former Miami Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga, former Orlando-area U.S. Rep. Lou Frey, and Republican Party of Florida fundraiser Zachariah Zachariah.
Lawmakers already passed a bill last year requiring personal finance standards to be taught in economics courses for high school seniors, but the group's report back to lawmakers called for a stand-alone class.
"It's very important that our students not only learn calculus in school and read Shakespeare, but also know how to manage their 401(k)," said Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Boca Raton. She added it was no coincidence that three female lawmakers were touting the bill.
"We all know that it is usually the woman in the household that manages the money," she said.