The wealth gap in the United States is threatening Americans’ aspirations for social advancement and equal opportunity. Minorities, women and the least educated have some of the lowest financial literacy rates in the nation, a major concern for businesses that see attracting a more diverse workforce as a business imperative.
Our entire country is in trouble because millennials have not been taught how to manage their personal finances. They are confronting greater economic difficulties than the generations that came before them, carrying too much debt, engaging in expensive credit card behaviors, and raiding their retirement accounts—if they have one at all.
Teachers play a critical role in helping to curb the gap in financial education, but they need more support. This month, PwC released a new national survey of 2,000 educators that shows a lack of financial education remains a critical problem that needs to be addressed in today’s society.
- Very few teachers incorporate financial education in their classrooms. While 92% of K-12 educators believe financial education should be taught in schools, only 12% do so.
- Though teachers believe financial education should happen at school and at home, 65% of teachers believe it’s unlikely their students are receiving any financial education at home.
- 62% of teachers surveyed said financial education isn’t seen as a critical skill for college and career readiness.
- Teachers don’t feel comfortable teaching financial literacy: only 31% feel ‘completely comfortable; 51% feel ‘moderately comfortable’; and 18% feel ‘not comfortable at all.’
The next generation is destined for the same fate unless we take action. April is Financial Literacy Month, and there’s no better time to commit to the financial security of our children and communities. Together, we must empower teachers to help overcome the gap between the amount of financial responsibility given to young Americans and their demonstrated ability to manage financial decisions. We can do this by investing in curriculum development and in-classroom resources, like the PwC Charitable Foundation has done with its new digital lab – a free resource for students, parents and teachers – and the firm has done with broader curriculum and collaborations with forward-thinking nonprofits. We can also play our part by becoming an advocate for personal finance skills as a priority for our kids.
Making good decisions about money is a skill that is critical to the success of every citizen. Today there is far too little conversation about the financial choices and decisions we make each and every day. It’s time to turn up the volume on conversations about earnings and income, spending, saving, borrowing and investing. These conversations matter – to all of us.
Shannon Schuyler is a Principal and PwC’s Corporate Responsibility (CR) Leader. She also serves a member of PwC’s Global CR Board and is President of the PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc.