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PGCPS students praise decision to add financial literacy as graduation requirement

The class of 2024 will be the first required to pass a financial literacy course in order to graduate.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Plans are in motion to bring a financial literacy course to all public schools in Prince George’s County. The 2024 class will be the first required to pass the course in order to graduate.

If there was ever a time to understand how your money works, the lack thereof, or when you owe it, it is now. The impact of COVID-19 on the economy has taught a lot of lessons, which some people have had to learn the hard way. School board members want students to be prepared. Some students want it, too.

"I've been on the board a while, and I've never seen a group of students ask for a graduation requirement," Vice Chair Edward Burroughs III said.

Burroughs and Student Board Member Joshua Omolola sponsored a bill that would require all public high school students to take a financial literacy course that would become a graduation requirement in years to come. In April, the bill passed with flying colors.

"There were thousands of comments on Twitter and Facebook from people saying, 'I wish I had this,'" Burroughs said. "(They said), 'I would have avoided heartache, debt and just chaos.'"

The legislation requires all public high schools to offer a course in financial literacy beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. It becomes a graduation requirement the following school year in the 2023-2024.

Students receive .5 credit upon completion, according to legislation. It's been suggested that students take the course in 10th grade, or get a waiver if they want to take it freshman year.

"Our students will learn about savings, debt, how to buy a home, interest, how to invest in the stock market -- the very nuts and bolts of practical skills," Burroughs explained.

The requirement brings 40 new teaching jobs to the school system. The budget sets aside $4 million to implement the plan.

Before the bill passed, dozens of students gave testimonies about their own desires to be prepared for the real world.

"In school, we learn about congruent angles and how to determine the area of a triangle, but we don't know how to manage a loan," a student, who testified before the school board in March, said. "To me, that's backwards."

School officials will start planning the roll out this year.

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