Lawmakers push for high school financial courses


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Money and debt are every day struggles for many Floridians. Lawmakers are trying to make sure graduating students know how to handle cash. 

Financial literacy does get some class time currently. It's a small part of social studies curriculums.

Lani Page speaks for a lot of high schoolers, and maybe a few adults, too, when she says she has no idea what APR is. For just that reason, Florida lawmakers are bringing back the money course, a required stand-alone course to teach kids about spending, loans and debt.

Page, a high school senior, said she could use the information before she goes off to the University of Central Florida.

"As a senior who is going on to college in four months, I have no idea how to be an adult and have any sort of financial responsibility," Page said.

Jacksonville economics teacher Pat Curran said he's seen firsthand how little his students know about real world finances. One of his students last year was the first to open a bank account in her family, and the first to get a credit card.

"I said, 'Are you sure it's a credit card? (You're) sure it's not a debit card?'" Curran said. "To be honest with you, kids don't know the difference. She said, 'No, it's a credit card.' She showed it to me, it was a credit card. And my next question was, ‘You work where?' She said, 'I don't have a job.'"

The same proposal had momentum last year but was ultimately declined in the House.

House sponsor Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen said things will be different in 2015. 

"I think last year we had a lot of focus on just getting our head around about what we were going to do with the Florida standards, so we really needed to focus on that first," Fitzenhagen said.

Lawmakers will get their first look at the bill next week.