Dave Ramsey Making Dollars & “Sense” for High School Students
Dave Ramsey is considered America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored five New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover, EntreLeadership and Smart Money Smart Kids. “The Dave Ramsey Show” is heard by more than 8.5 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations, “The Dave Ramsey Show” channel on iHeartRadio and a 24-hour online streaming video channel. Ramsey Solutions offers a suite of products and services to help people get control of their finances and other aspects of their lives. Follow Ramsey on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.
Dr. Rod Berger: Education systems, around the world, speak of skill attainment, gaps, mastery and standardization. One area that has been grossly left for others to teach would be financial literacy. Of course this is near and dear to you. What theory do you have about our laissez-faire approach to financial literacy in our public K-12 system?
Dave Ramsey: Most adults generally have no idea how to handle their money so they don’t feel qualified to teach something they barely understand. The topic is misunderstood by so many adults that they shy away from teaching it.
RB: I would be interested to know what students are saying to you. Are they engaging in personal finance discussions in new ways and do you find that they are taking personal ownership similar to the way students are gravitating towards crafting their own educational paths (i.e., MOOCS etc.)?
DR: We hear from students all the time that are taking our course and say it is the best class they have ever taken. They go home and have money discussions with their parents, talk with their friends about it, and can actually see how learning about money will affect their future. They see the connection to what they are learning in class to their own lives.
RB: For those who would say there just isn’t enough time in the school day to add one more area of study (i.e., financial literacy) you would say what?
DR: We can’t afford NOT to teach it. Whether they become a doctor, teacher or a police officer, everyone needs to know how to handle money.
RB: Is this really a bigger issue than we are touching on here? I mean should we be looking at all curriculum with a more critical eye for day-to-day living skills following graduation?
DR: Real world life skills have to be a focus. When you teach students how to be responsible with money, you are also teaching them about contentment, the value of work and how to give back to their community. We can’t expect students to come out of school and be responsible citizens if we don’t teach them about everyday life experiences.
RB: I would love to know what the most common “no” is when you reach out to schools to provide your financial education and what can we glean from their reluctance?
DR: Funding and time in the day to teach the topic are by far the two biggest reasons. Fortunately, we have many corporate sponsors that have helped schools by purchasing the material for them. The time issue is being resolved through legislation. Many states have, or are trying to pass, legislation that requires financial literacy to be taught prior to graduation. This is a huge step in the right direction.
RB: What role can school leaders play in this discussion and how can their position facilitate real change in what curriculum meets students needs of today?
DR: They can continue to emphasize the importance of this topic and push legislation. The more it is required, the more attention will be placed on the subject.
RB: One final and broad question for you Dave. Is it a stretch to think that schools and districts should reimagine institutional finance in the wake of report after report of either misuse or poor management of funds?
DR: The root of all of this is that people don’t know how to handle money. The goal of financial literacy is to help students learn at an early age the importance of good money management skills so that they can become financially responsible adults. And if they know how to handle money in their personal lives, there’s a good chance they’ll learn how to handle money in their professional lives.