There is no question Iowa’s financial institutions and college lending services are seeing a tangible problem with student debt and lower levels of financial literacy. There is no shortage of stories about skyrocketing student debt, maxed out credit cards, and and consumers struggling to know their options.
For a number of years, the Iowa Association of Christian Schools (IACS) has been involved in discussions at the Capitol about how best to improve financial literacy education in Iowa. Since the passage of the Iowa Core Curriculum, Iowa’s schools have been required (mandated) to teach financial literacy and address the standards as part of the Iowa Core’s “21st Century Skills” framework. The real challenges for schools have been finding quality resources and a lack of emphasis on the area as schools adjust to an ever-changing demographic and regulatory environment.
IACS has always believed there is a win-win solution that avoids additional onerous and duplicative mandates while providing the resources needed for schools to implement quality financial literacy programming. We are proud to have been a part of a conversation last year with members of the business community, legislators, and the Iowa Department of Education on a way forward and we have had representation on the Financial Literacy Work Team that came out of those discussions.
Our goal was to figure out the best way to provide resources and training to schools, how best to clarify the standards to make them easier to implement, and gather information on how schools are meeting the requirement. We also are interested in collecting examples of what is working well and share these with the rest of the education community across the State. As an organization that is concerned about financial literacy and always opposed to unfunded mandates, we believe the work team recommendations accomplish all of these goals in a way that will work best for Iowa’s students and stakeholders in the private sector.
We stand ready to help improve communication and raise the visibility of this important issue across the state. We thank Director Brad Buck and his staff, Governor Branstad and his staff, and the members of the Work Team for their passion for the issue and their willingness to work on solutions that respect the role of local schools and provide meaningful help implementing financial literacy standards.
You can read the Department’s press release and the Work Group’s recommendations here: