As Marylanders continue to struggle financially amid a sluggish recovery, it is becoming painfully clear why they have called this economy the worst since the Great Depression. While there may be no silver bullet to get firms hiring again overnight, we can take commonsense steps today to make sure a recession this widespread and hard-hitting never happens in Maryland again.
The pain Marylanders are suffering is a result of predatory lending, reckless decisions on Wall Street, and a federal regulatory system that failed to protect consumers. However, the recession was compounded by the fact that too many Americans purchased financial products that they really didn't understand and entered into financial agreements that they certainly could not afford, often for the sake of buying things that they frankly did not need. If people from our generation had received the benefit of financial education-just as they did in reading, writing, and arithmetic-fewer people would be drowning in debt today and facing the loss of their homes, their credit ratings, and their financial security.
In order to empower the next generation and ensure that history does not repeat itself, I am proud to partner with a broad coalition including teachers, students, PTA's, consumer advocates, the business community, and Maryland legislators of both parties to support legislation that would make financial literacy education a graduation requirement for all high school students in Maryland. Working together, we will get this legislation passed in the 2011 General Assembly.
We are lucky in Maryland to have the best public school system in the country, in no small part due to the high expectations we set for proficiency in the fundamental subjects. But while academic standards are essential for a child's intellectual development, it is also critical that we empower students with the practical skills necessary to be successful in the real world.
We now have an opportunity to make Maryland the fourth state in the nation to require a standalone course in financial literacy as a high school graduation requirement. Over the past year, as I have had the privilege of visiting schools from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, the feedback from students, teachers, and parents has been the same: financial literacy training works, and those that have it will enter college or the job market with a decided advantage over those who don't.
As always, we must be mindful of the costs we will incur in implementing even the most important statewide programs. Luckily, three school systems in the state have already taken the lead by establishing their own required standalone financial literacy courses; my hat goes off to Talbot, Carroll, and Allegany Counties for being the laboratories that have proven that financial literacy education can work and be done at minimal cost. For instance, by utilizing the talents of our current teachers and taking advantage of donated training and teaching materials, Carroll County created financial literacy graduation requirements for all eight of its high schools at a cost of just $37,700.
The ideal time for this legislation may have been 15 or 20 years ago, but I applaud the effort to enact it now because we cannot afford to wait much longer. For more information and to learn how you can get help make financial literacy a right of all Maryland students, visit the Maryland Coalition for Financial Literacy's website at www.mdfinancialskills.org. If we work together, we can make sure that the next generation of Marylanders is equipped to protect their own financial security before recession hits.
P.S.: Thank you so much to all who helped support our effort to "fill the pail." If you intended to contribute to help spread our message and did not have a chance, you still can by visiting franchot.com! Your support means everything to me!
To unsubscribe from future mailings, click here.
By Authority: Friends of Peter Franchot, Tom Gentile, Treasurer