Letters to the Editor: California will require financial literacy education. Is that a good thing?

Los Angeles, California-March 24, 2022 -At Downtown Magnets High School, a new generation of California's star college applicants open their admission decision emails on March 24, 2022. Lynda McGee, College Counselor at Downtown Magnets High School, congratulates Emily Cruz, who just found out she was accept at Brandeis University in Massachusetts with a full scholarship. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Students at Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles in 2022. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: A November ballot initiative forced legislators' hands to pass AB 2927 requiring financial planning be taught before high school graduation. Presumably they didn't want to be embarrassed by the public on such an obvious need. AB 984, last year's bill with similar requirements, didn’t get very far.

The public is right. Nearly two-thirds of participants in a 2020 Charles Schwab survey felt financial planning should be taught in school and was the most important graduation requirement to supplement math, English and science. High school students already have a leadership elective — so, graduates will become managers of a firm immediately? No! Typically, they enter the workforce for two to five years, learn the ropes a bit and then enter MBA programs where leadership courses are taught.

Let's hope these financial planning courses go well beyond budgeting and checking accounts. They're nice to know, but do they actually help 401(k) participants know what to invest in? Surveys indicate that most 401(k) participants did not know what to invest in despite the service provider having a website to teach them how to invest. When half don't know what to do, the system is broken.

David Bach, Sacramento


To the editor: From 1960 to 1964, I taught a one-semester course in pocketbook economics, “general business,” that was offered in the LAUSD high schools. It covered balancing a checkbook, managing credit and much more. It had been offered for several decades.

What became of it? LAUSD received the message: All students should focus on “college prep.”

I later became a school counselor for two additional Southern California school districts. Saying there’s not enough room for a pocketbook economics course in a college-bound student's schedule is a false claim. There is plenty of room.

Wendell H. Jones, Ojai


To the editor: While the Legislature is at it, how about making it a requirement that all high school students pass the U.S. citizenship test assessing a naturalization applicant's knowledge of U.S. government, history and geography?

John Beckman, Chino Hills

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.