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High school financial literacy bill heads to House floor

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Idaho high schools may soon have to provide financial literacy classes to students under a new bill.

Rep. James Petzke (R-Meridian) said he was inspired to write the bill partially because of what he learned taking an elective class on personal finance when he was in high school.

“The only reason that I took the class is because my dad was the teacher, and if your dad is the teacher, it’s not an elective,” said Petske, grinning. “It’s a requirement.”

Whether or not it was actually considered an elective, he said he took away a lot from that class.

“I learned how to buy a car, how to make a household budget, the basics of the stock market, why it’s important to avoid high levels of consumer debt, how to calculate and track personal net worth.”

But Petzke noticed only a handful of his peers took the class, since it was optional.

These are the kinds of lessons, he said, he wants more high schoolers to have before they become adults in order to promote healthy financial habits.

The bill would require public high schools that teach grades 9-12 to provide at least one course on the subject.

Curriculum must include:

-Recognizing the influence of money on human behavior

-Learning about various kinds of bank accounts

-Evaluating different kinds of investment options

-Learning about different types of credit and how your personal credit score is calculated

-Understanding how to finance a college education

-Evaluating different types of insurance policies

-Recognizing the different aspects and purpose of the tax system

-How to build a budget for independent living

Students would be required to take this class in order to graduate.

The bill has support from Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield and the Idaho Association of School Administrators, which represents superintendents.

Petzke’s bill passed unanimously out of the House Education Committee Wednesday and awaits consideration by the full House.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!