- North Carolina becomes the 20th state to add a personal finance class to its high school curriculum.
- Economic and Civics class will become two separate courses allowing more focus on personal finance.
- Some educators fear the added class will take away from important U.S. history subject matter. They say that decisions about curriculum should be left to the board of education rather than state legislators.
- Durham County’s Hillside High School is already seeing the benefit of personal finance focused courses.
A North Carolina bill that requires high schools to add a personal finance course to its curriculum has recently been approved by the House and currently awaits Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature.
Although there were grievances against the proposal from some teachers, the bill allowed North Carolina to become the 20th state to require such a course for high school graduation.
Personal Finance Class Integration
Currently, North Carolina students must complete four full-credit social studies courses in order to be eligible for graduation. They are required to take three history classes and one class that combines civics with economics.
The new bill will require a separate economics and personal finance class along with a full-credit civics class. However, students are still only required 4 social studies courses to graduate.
Educators Concerned Over Cut Content
Not everyone is in favor of the new state mandate. Social studies teacher at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, Angie Scioli, is worried that the addition of the personal finance class will cut into U.S. History content.
She says, “We have a course already called civics and economics where half of the course is economics and personal finance and that puts us in alignment with almost every other state.” Scioli suggested freeing up more time to teach personal finance in the current civics and economics class rather than creating a brand new course.
Democratic Senator Jay Chaudhuri of Wake County, NC thinks that legislators have no business in curriculum decisions. The scope and sequence of an educational institution belong in the hands of the state’s board of education.
The Benefits of a Personal Finance Class
Republican Rep. Craig Horn of Union County, NC doesn’t see the need to cut content in order to introduce a much-needed course on personal finance. He says, “I don’t believe that we need to lessen any requirements. Perhaps adjust some priorities, perhaps devise some new approaches.”
Lt. Gov Dan Forest says that “we have some basic challenges with people coming out of school and understanding how to handle their finances.” A neighboring high school in Durham County already offers a program in cooperation with the National Academy Foundation (NAF).
Jolil Smoke, a recent graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill and participant in the Hillside High School’s economic program, completed her education in political science debt-free. “I was much more intentional about planning for college. My peers that weren’t in the program, I don’t think they had that same outlook.”
Incentives for Teachers
North Carolina’s state budget bill includes a measure that will give a $500 stipend to any teacher that registers and completes a personal finance development course in order to teach personal finance to high school students.