PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, joined by Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman, Senator Sandra Cano, Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien, Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, and Pawtucket Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cheryl McWilliams, today signed into law legislation (2021-H 5491, 2021-S 0349) which will require statewide standards in consumer education in public high schools.
The legislation directs the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education and the Rhode Island Department of Education to develop instruction standards on personal finance or consumer economic topics including installment purchasing, budgeting, credit and the law, employment and income, saving, investing, and money management.
The bill signing took place at Tolman High School, which offers a financial literacy curriculum to its students.
"Financial literacy is key to a young person's future success," said Governor Dan McKee. "This legislation paves the way for our public high schools to provide young people with the skills they need to achieve their financial goals. It will also help us ensure that every Rhode Island high school student is equipped with tools to prepare them for economic opportunity after graduation. Thank you to everyone who played a role in getting this bill over the finish line for the students of Rhode Island."
The bill was requested by the office of the General Treasurer.
"Now more than ever, a strong working knowledge of personal finance is essential for young people as they enter adulthood," said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "As Treasurer and a former public school teacher, I know firsthand the positive long-term impact providing this education will have on our State. Now more than ever, a strong working knowledge of personal finance is essential for young people as they enter adulthood. I want to thank the many educators, students, parents, colleagues in the General Assembly, and members of my Office for their years of partnership to ensure that all students have the financial skills they need to succeed."
"Knowledge is power and knowledge about how money works empowers students to improve their economic futures," said Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. "Financial literacy has long been a priority for students and we're excited that this bill will help ensure that every Rhode Islander graduates with a greater understanding of how to manage their personal finances. We look forward to working with students and advocates to help break cycles of poverty and make sure that all families can benefit from our economy."
"We have been working to provide opportunities for our students to learn the importance of financial literacy to help them moving forward," said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. "The lessons students learn through financial literacy and consumer economics classes helps to guide and empower them to make educated financial decisions on their own; something now all of Rhode Island's students will be able to experience. Thank you to the leadership of everyone involved to help provide our students with more educational opportunities."
"Financial Literacy and understanding how finances work is an important step to adulthood for all of our students," said Pawtucket Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cheryl McWilliams. "We are excited to see consumer economics take importance in schools across the State to help youth achieve their goals."
"Many young people just don't understand the complexities of credit and debt — what it means to have a mortgage that's under water, or how high interest rates can bury them in debt for their entire lives," said Representative Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln). "They don't understand that paying the minimum on their credit card bills will keep them paying forever."
"How can we expect our children to become financially successful adults if we do not teach them the core aspects of our financial system when they are in school?" said Senator Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket), who chairs the Senate Education Committee. "This bill will ensure that our children leave the public school system with a firm and knowledgeable grasp on basic financial concepts that will help them succeed in their adult lives."
The standards must be developed and approved no later than Dec. 31, 2021.