Blue model education systems were built on the assumption that most middle-class Americans didn’t have to be especially proactive about their retirement planning. In the blue heyday, it was often the norm for Americans to work at the same company for their entire careers and retire with a defined-benefit pension. But in today’s economy, where most people switch employers every few years and depend on 401(k)s for retirement security, it’s increasingly important that public education systems equip students to take charge of their own financial fate. Unfortunately, according to a recent report, schools don’t appear to be making much progress on this front. CNBC reports:
The number of states that require high school students to complete a course in economics has dropped over the last two years, and mandates for personal finance education in the upper grades remain stagnant, a new survey shows.The biennial Survey of the States by the Council for Economic Education, released exclusively to CNBC.com, found 20 states currently mandate that high school students take economics — two fewer than in 2014.… At the same time, the Council for Economic Education survey found the number of states that require high school students to take a course in personal finance has remained unchanged at 17 since 2014.
America is currently in the midst of a transition from an employer-driven retirement model to a self-driven retirement model. This transition must be managed in part by individual workers, who will need to become more proactive in their financial planning, and in part by corporations, many of which should auto-enroll more workers in retirement plans (as some already are), matching employee contributions more generously. But there’s also a role for the government: Financial services firms that deal with 401(k)-type accounts will need to be regulated and overseen with these broader social trends in mind. And even more critically, schools must prepare students for the economic landscape that awaits them. Policymakers who are interested in facilitating the post-blue economic transition should make beefing up financial education a priority.