FLM Step 30: Dr. Robert Duvall on moving forward

In honor of Financial Literacy Month, we created a microsite that offers 30 simple steps to financial wellness–one for each day of the month. To enrich the experience, we asked some amazing people to guest post during the month. Their dedication to financial literacy is truly inspiring! Today, Dr. Robert Duvall, President and Chief Executive Officer for the Council for Economic Education and member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, discusses moving forward.

At the Council for Economic Education (formerly National Council on Economic Education) we envision a world in which people are empowered through economic and financial literacy to make informed and responsible choices throughout their lives as consumers, savers, investors, workers, citizens, and participants in both our national and global economies. We look at the current economic difficulties and see it as an opportunity for all of us, as a nation, to look at how we got into this situation and work towards preventing it from happening again.

The message about the future and moving forward is a message of hope; a message of responsibility, and a message of empowerment. We believe that solutions for long-term economic stability must move forward from boardrooms to classrooms. And key to moving forward positively, efficiently and effectively is economic and financial literacy.

People are not born with an understanding of personal finance and economics. Like anything else, it is learned. The problem is that, by and large, it still isn’t being taught. A Council for Economic Education survey found that only 17 states require students to take an economic course as a condition of graduation, and only seven states require students to take a personal finance course before they graduate. We can do better. The stakes of financial illiteracy are too high to ignore.

Integrating economics and personal finance into high school curriculum requires that states and schools make it a priority, and it requires additional training and resources for teachers. Yes, some states have already begun to take steps to make sure young people are financially literate, but it is not enough. A much broader and bolder commitment is necessary. Moving forward, every state should require – or at least make sure schools offer – courses in economics and personal finance for high school students.

In the 1950s, high schools began teaching drivers’ education in order to equip young people to function – safely and responsibly – in the world. If high schools in every state can teach young people to drive, surely they can teach them to be responsible consumers. In addition, when schools teach economics and personal finance we build in our young people a sense of curiosity, an ability to think critically and we empower them to function responsibly in the world and in their communities.

Being financially literate is a lifelong process. Reaching youth is critical. Educational materials are crucial. That is what the Council for Economic Education does. Our mission is to provide teachers with the educational tools they need to help students develop the real-life skills they need to succeed and ultimately be effective participants in a global economy. But a joint effort is necessary to achieve national financial literacy - no single organization or sector can achieve the goal of providing financial literacy for all. Moving forward, working together is the only viable solution. Our young people deserve no less.

Dr. Robert Fenton Duvall is the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Council for Economic Education. Duvall has become a national, and international, spokesman for the value of improving economic, financial and entrepreneurship education by making it a core component of the pre-college curriculum. In January 2008, he was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.