The governor and the Iowa Department of Education are holding a financial literacy summit today at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Education Department consultant, Stefanie Wager, says the summit came out of a working group that was put together to find ways to address education about financial issues.
Wager says its all part of the 21st Century skills for students. “It is something that when you are young you don’t really think a lot of about. And unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, credit is much more accessible to young people today,” Wager says. She says they want students to have the skills to handle credit and other financial issues that they’ll face.
“Trying to really address how do you make good decisions in the moment when you are 16 and not necessarily thinking of when I’m 65 or retire, or something like that,” according to Wager. Wager says the working group that put together the summit has talked a lot about these issues. For instance, she says there’s some thought now that when kids get a little older, parents should talk to them about how much money they are making.
“That’s something that typically parents don’t feel like they should share with their kids,” Wager says. “But when kids do know, — my parents make 50-thousand dollars a year and this is kind of how we budget that — often times they have a much more realistic picture of what’s possible. If my parents make this much, how do we live on the 50-thousand dollars a year.” The summit is broken into three strands, one for students, one for educators and one for the public.
Wager says it’s a starting point in improving financial literacy education. “The idea behind a summit is sort of an initial stab at things, an initial conversation starter. And we have a group that will meet continuously even after the summit and will continue trying to meet the recommendations that were made by the work team,” Wager explains.”So, we continue to ramp up the issue.”
Wager says part of the ongoing effort is to create some professional development to help teachers bring these issues to students. “Because we also know that if teachers don’t feel comfortable with financial information themselves, it’s going to be tricky for them to talk to kids about that kind of information,” Wager says. Another goal of the summit is to raise public awareness of community resources and programs, and to provide resources for teaching financial literacy.