Wisconsin Law Forces Schools to Teach Students About Cheddar (Not the Cheese)

little girl stacking coins on a table
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Remember life when you got to college? Your first roommate? Maybe your first real job?

Your first credit card? Cha-ching!

If you were like far too many Americans, you left high school with little working knowledge of personal finance. If your parents didn’t teach you how to handle your money and the difference between needs and wants, you were probably in trouble.

Many states require their high schools to include a financial literacy curriculum as a graduation requirement. Now, though it’s a little late to the party, Wisconsin is on board.

Why Wisconsin Passed a K-12 Financial Literacy Curriculum Requirement

On Dec. 2, 2017, a new law went into effect that requires school districts to adopt academic standards for financial literacy and incorporate personal finance into the curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to avoid imposing too much financial hardship on school districts, the law didn’t outline specific course requirements. Schools are encouraged to work with banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to develop their curricula.

The move is long overdue in the Cheesehead State. Champlain College’s 2017 report on national high school financial literacy gave Wisconsin a big ol’ F for its lack of personal finance education requirements. Nine other states and Washington, D.C., joined Wisconsin at the bottom of the rankings.

The only states that received A’s for their financial literacy requirements were Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri and Utah. This grade was given only to states that required at least one semester of financial instruction to graduate.

But don’t assume that Wisconites are going into debt buying brats, cheese curds, beer and Aaron Rodgers jerseys. According to Governing’s review of average credit scores by state, Wisconsin comes in 10th overall, with an Experian average credit score of 707.

According to Amy McCutchen, a business teacher at Holmen High School in Wisconsin, the issue of credit may be the most important. She told WKBT-TV: “I think the credit stuff is really one that students have heard about before. They’ve seen the commercials. They’ve heard people talk about it, but they don’t really understand it until they get the money and the numbers in front of them and realize how much damage can be done with some bad slip-ups early in their life.”

It seems odd that in 2018 this hasn’t been addressed by every state, but adding one more to the list is a good thing. Teach money management young so we’ll have a new generation of educated Penny Hoarders.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.