Financial literacy: A prerequisite for life

Money You know how we're going to avoid another financial meltdown like the one we're enduring right now?

Not by throwing money at the problem, although that seems to be a necessary evil at this point.

No, the real solution is education. The sooner we can teach our citizens how to take control of their finances, the better off we'll all be.

New Jersey is among the states trying to do just that. The state's Senate Education Committee has passed a bill that would require New Jersey schools to teach high school seniors basic personal finance skills like "how to write a check, manage credit card debt and obtain a mortgage," according to the Associated Press.

The bill was approved by the state's Assembly in September.

My reaction? Way to go, New Jersey. I'm convinced that if we all knew a little more about managing our own personal finances, our country's fiscal problems would begin to melt away as well. Think of it: An entire nation of fiscally responsible adults.

I'm also convinced that these skills are important enough to mandate. Personally, I'd love to see Maryland follow New Jersey's lead and require students to learn some financial basics before they graduate.

Of course, governments everywhere are wrapped up with trying to solve their own financial problems. Who has time for something as trivial as this?

Trouble is, it's not trivial. It's more important than ever. All you have to do is pick up a newspaper (or, more likely these days, visit a news Web site) to figure that out.

What do you think? Should we require schools to teach personal finance?


Bill Sheridan