- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — The Carroll County school system will require high school students to take a financial literacy course before graduating, starting with the class of 2011.

The district began offering the class two years ago. The half-credit course covers income, money management, consumer rights and responsibilities, spending, and credit, as well as saving and investing.

Carroll County joins a small number of Maryland school systems, including the counties of Baltimore, Harford, St. Mary’s and Talbot, with a similar requirement. Fourteen states, including Virginia, require a financial literacy course to graduate. Maryland and the District of Columbia do not have such a requirement.

Carroll County school board members who voted Wednesday for the requirement said they thought the information in the course would be valuable enough that all students should take the class.

“There’s no way I can teach my children the information covered in the class,” said board member Patricia W. Gadberry. “I should go in and sit in that class myself.”

A survey of 5,775 high school seniors released in April by the JumpStart Coalition, a nonprofit financial-literacy organization, revealed that 52.4 percent of students understand basic financial concepts, a marginal improvement over 52.3 percent in 2004.

Cynthia L. Foley, who voted against the Carroll County proposal, said she was reluctant to require the course based solely on school officials’ assertion that there is a national crisis among teens who lack knowledge of financial matters. She added that financial literacy is something parents should teach children at home.

School officials said they conducted pretests of about 30 students taking the course this semester, and the highest score was about 60 percent. “Most were much lower,” said Marjorie Lohnes, the system’s career and technology supervisor.

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