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The Future of America: Financial Literacy Education

High-school senior Aaron Moore discusses the importance of promoting financial literacy and the National Financial Capability Challenge.

Ed Note: Aaron Moore earned a perfect score on the National Financial Capability Challenge, an awards program announced in December by Treasury Secretary Geithner and Education Secretary Duncan, designed to promote financial education among high school students across the country.  He has made several speaking engagements and national media appearances discussing the topic of financial literacy and serves as the president of Future Business Leaders of America for the state of Maryland.  He will enter Villanova University in the fall to study Business Administration.

High School Senior Aaron Moore

High-school senior Aaron Moore stands with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Students are given opportunities and choices; I was given an opportunity like no other, to speak at the Treasury Department along side of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. From beginning to end I was engaged, enlightened, and excited. The halls of the Treasury truly represented what it means to be American, full of marble, wood, and gold, the building materials of our founding fathers.

The experience of the day is attributed solely to financial literacy education, the topic of my speech. We gathered in the legendary Cash Room to celebrate and honor financially literate students, while recognizing that we still have a long way to go in financial education.

I cannot say how many times I heard “In the wake of today’s economic crisis.” However, the reason that quote was used so many times is it is absolutely true that in today’s economic standing that the future leaders of our country and controllers of our economy must understand finance in order to prevent financial disaster.

Students must learn what IRA’s and 401(k)’s are. They must also learn how to properly invest their money. Most importantly, they must know how much they can afford to pay in mortgage every month and not be taken advantage of by corporate policies that earn profit and not consumer trust. There are too many American children who do not know how to establish credit, make a budget, or even write a check.

Some school districts have realized this and implemented a financial literacy course as a graduation requirement, but not all have taken heed of the economy’s recent message. President Obama often talks about not wanting our healthcare system to be a sick care system, but preventative. The exact principle applies to education, making it preventative. We, as a country, can avoid such economic disasters with financial knowledge.

In addition to the classroom, there are exciting ways for students to learn by experience and competition through Career and Technology Student Organizations (CTSO). One such organization is Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), a national student business organization with over 215,000 members. In FBLA, students are able to learn and apply knowledge to win awards and scholarships, while also networking with other students at regional, state, and national conferences.

My experience in financial education has been unique and I can credit my experiences for my achievement of a perfect score on the National Financial Literacy Capability Challenge. Taking classes in World Finance, Economics, Financial Planning, Banking and Credit, and International Finance have helped me gain the knowledge I needed and having a parent in the financial industry, interning at a bank, and serving as President of Maryland FBLA have also given me the experiences of a lifetime.

I encourage all students to take advantage of the financial courses offered at their school, join a CTSO and receive that knowledge that is available to them because not only does it benefit their financial well-being, but it also benefits the country’s. Additionally, I hope that the National Financial Capability Challenge continues for many years because it honors students for their achievements, promotes financial education, and encourages them to be knowledgeable.