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Cordray: Fin. Lit. Is Fundamental
MADISON, Wis. (9/26/13)--"Financial education should be as fundamental as the education we are all required to receive in U.S. history and government," Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray said at a Wednesday Financial Literacy and Education Commission Field Hearing hosted by the University of Wisconsin--Madison.

"Within the framework of our republic, we have built the greatest system of economic liberty in the history of mankind. Yet it will only endure if we take the steps necessary to strengthen that system from the bottom up, starting with the individual. The financial services marketplace is constantly evolving in complex ways, and managing one's finances is a lifelong endeavor," he added.

Lois Kitsch, national program director for the National Credit Union Foundation, and Jennifer Block, representing Royal CU, Eau Claire, Wis., took part in a panel discussion entitled "Building youth financial capability through experiential learning." Kitsch presented the NCUF's own programs during the panel.

Credit unions provide financial counseling to more than 1.5 million consumers each year, according to a National Credit Union Foundation report entitled "Credit Unions: Focused on Financial Capability across the Nation." Early-age financial literacy efforts are a key part of this counseling, as credit unions hold nearly 25,000 annual educational presentations for more than 600,000 students, the NCUF wrote.

Cordray in his remarks told the more than 100 attendees that teaching children about money and their finances "should not be reserved to a few games of family-night 'Monopoly,' where children are taught the benefits of buying up Boardwalk and Park Place."

Parents, he said, need to be engaged as their children are learning to master the concepts of personal financial management. Americans must also work to fill the financial literacy gap by pursuing greater financial education in the school system.

To improve in-school financial literacy efforts, the CFPB said integrated curriculum must be developed so, for instance, the benefits of compound interest are understood in math class, economic costs and risks are taught in social studies class, and English class essays include topics involving money. Cordray added that:
  • Financial education must start early and must be continuous;
  • Financial concepts must be incorporated into standardized tests that states already administer;
  • Teachers and schools must be supported with the necessary training to deliver sound financial instruction to students.
On-campus credit union branches held more than $34 million in funds from 111,500 student members as of 2010. Nearly 5,000 student workers received on-the-job training experiences at those 1,400 in-school credit union branches.

In total, credit unions invested more than $140 million in financial literacy efforts in 2010.

(For another story involving financial literacy, see: 44% Of Wisconsin School Districts Require Fin Lit Course.)
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