Recently, I spoke with high school seniors who were transitioning to college. We discussed ways we can improve the education system. They shared that they didn’t feel ready for the real world. To understand their meanings, I began asking them questions. Their lack of financial literacy shocked me when we came to the subject of financial literacy. They didn’t know the difference between a credit and debit card. One student didn’t know that they were responsible to pay back money on a credit card.
Some members of Congress are focusing on banning bitcoin. While the federal government shouldn’t be prohibited from using innovative technologies, it does have a role to fund age-appropriate financial literacy courses for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. This is something I feel is morally imperative as an educator and candidate for California’s 30th congressional District in 2022. Our youth are being set up for failure by allowing them to leave high school unprepared.
These courses will teach you the basics of investing, saving and budgeting. This will help you to be financially responsible. These classes give students concrete skills that they can use in the real world. California’s current state standards require that all public school students complete a semester-long course in economics. This class teaches the big picture but does not address practical skills needed to manage money.
While students learn about international trade policy and monetary policies, they don’t learn how to locate an apartment for rent or calculate interest on credit cards. Personal finance classes are essential for students. Students must be able to tell the difference between a credit card and a debit card when they leave high school. Credit cards have a high interest rate and companies want people to fall into debt traps. They will make minimum payments to keep the principle intact. They must be able to balance risk and reward, as well as factor in inflation.
Although every student should be taught financial literacy, there is an inequity in how many students are actually taught this skill. Federally funded programs ensure that all students receive a high-quality education, regardless of their family income. These classes are not available to all students. Young people learn finance from their families or have to do it themselves. This may not be an issue for children who were raised in wealthy families.
However, it may be an issue for those who come from less fortunate backgrounds. These skills are a recipe for failure for young people. They are at risk of being preyed upon by predatory lending. They are at risk of falling prey to payday-loan and check-cashing companies that promise low service fees and rates, but which they never receive. They will be shocked by the minimum account balance fees and penalties for accidental overdrafts. Children who grow up in poverty have a fighting chance of financial literacy.
A solid foundation in financial literacy is essential to navigate a complex world. Bitcoin has the potential for revolutionizing the economy by changing the way we invest and finance. Although it wouldn’t destroy bitcoin technology, the federal government could ban it. However, this would make the American economy less attractive to investors and foreign markets. Economic prosperity is not possible by stifling innovation.
This technology is here to stay. Any properly-run financial literacy course should teach students about Bitcoins and cryptocurrency to enable them to make their own choices. No teacher should advise students to invest in stocks, bonds or bitcoin. Teachers’ job is to educate students so that they can make informed decisions.
Bitcoin ban calls are detrimental to the economy. They also ignore individual Americans’ rights to manage their money how they choose. These calls ignore the root problem. Over half of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. The government must fulfill its obligation to provide financial education to every child. Everyday Americans have invested in bitcoin to create real wealth. Regular people have it hard enough to make ends meet. It is absurd to imagine that the government could pass a ban that would instantly wipe out all that wealth. I will support financial literacy programs with federal dollars.
I will also fight for bitcoin communities against any bans. We must all work together. Your representatives’ position on Bitcoin. Are personal finances included in the educational standards of your state? Find out. Write letters. Write letters to support candidates that reflect your values.