economy.178 This Article demonstrates that a large and growing number of Americans are
financially illiterate, yet the current solution to resolving this problem is for parents to educate
their children to make better financial decisions than the parents themselves are capable of
making. Should America really leave the financial education of American youth to chance, or to
those ill prepared to teach it?
IV. PUBLIC SCHOOLS SHOULD TEACH FINANCIAL EDUCATION TO ENSURE EQUAL EDUCATION
AND COMBAT FINANCIAL INSTABILITY
“Many people are in the dark when it comes to money, and I’m going to turn on the lights.”179
The U.S. government has done a great deal to address the financial illiteracy problem, but
more must be done if America hopes to reverse the rising tide of financial illiteracy in future
generations.180 This Article asserts that beyond just increasing the availability of educational
tools, the government needs to pass comprehensive legislation that results in fully integrating
financial concepts with school curricula beginning in kindergarten and continuing through high
school graduation.181 Because less than half the states require courses in economics or personal
finance, many schools likely fail to provide a financial education, particularly as the economy
recovers and it seems there is no need to continue combating a diminishing economic crisis.182
In order to truly combat economic inequality, financial education must be offered to as
many American youths as possible.183 Thus, new mandates at the federal level would be more
effective in accomplishing that goal than those at the state or local level.184 Waiting for a state-by-state or district-by-district solution only perpetuates the problem of inequality and continues
the marginalization of certain segments of our society. One major challenge, however, is that
America’s education system is primarily run at the state and local level.185 The Tenth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that: “The powers not delegated to the United
States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States
respectively, or to the people.”186 Designing public school curricula is one of the areas left to the
178 Austin, supra note 67, at 1256-57.
179 Orman, supra note 161.
180 FIN. LITERACY & EDUC. COMM’N, supra note 25, at vii; FINRA INVESTOR EDUC. FOUND., supra note 12, at 23; see COUNCIL FOR
ECON. EDUC., supra note 12.
181 FIN. LITERACY & EDUC. COMM’N, supra note 25.
182 See COUNCIL FOR ECON. EDUC., supra note 12 (indicating a decline in the teaching of financial education since the economy began
to recover in 2009).
183 FIN. LITERACY & EDUC. COMM’N, supra note 25.
184 See COUNCIL FOR ECON. EDUC., supra note 12. Given that less than half the states require economics or personal finance classes,
none of the existing laws truly make it worthwhile for states to implement financial education on a broad scale in exchange for much
needed education funding. See, e.g., 20 U.S.C.A. § 9701 (West 2013) (“encourage[ing] financial literacy” arguably does not provide
schools with a real incentive to implement financial education programs). The federal government needs to draft legislation coupled
with a funding package that is simply too good to refuse.
185 Overview: The Federal Role in Education, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUC., https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/role.html (last
updated Feb. 13, 2012).
186 US CONST. amend. X; see also 20 U.S.C.A. § 9572(b) (limiting the ability of the Federal government to control school curriculum).
Nothing in this subchapter may be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government to
mandate, direct, or control the curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of State or local resources of a
State, local educational agency, or school, or to mandate a State, or any subdivision thereof, to spend any funds
or incur any costs not provided for under this subchapter.
Id.; Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 107 (1968).
The State’s undoubted right to prescribe the curriculum for its public schools does not carry with it the right to
prohibit, on pain of criminal penalty, the teaching of a scientific theory or doctrine where that prohibition is
based upon reasons that violate the First Amendment. It is much too late to argue that the State may impose