Bill aims to make Indiana students financially literate

Isaac Hughes teaches financial literacy at Lynnhurst 7th and 8th grade center in Wayne Township.
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It is being called the most comprehensive financial literacy initiative in America. At least, that is what Senator Brent Waltz (R-District 36) is calling his measure which would require financial literacy course work for students from grades six through twelve.

He elaborated on his proposal at an Indiana Statehouse news conference Wednesday morning.

"We learned about several economic theories but we were never taught how to balance a checkbook or what a sub prime mortgage would be or the pitfalls of credit card debt," he said.

Sen. Waltz says his bill would help establish guidelines and create model curricula for all Indiana teachers to use in the classroom.

Even at age 27, Isaac Hughes bemoans the fact that he did not have any financial literacy classes when he was in school. Now that he teaches it at Lynnhurst 7th and 8th grade center in Wayne Township, he sees the importance of it every day.

"They don't know the difference in a credit card and a debit card; interest rates and how they work; the importance of saving your money and how to properly do that."

"How many times have kids come back in the midst of the class and said, I am helping my mom or my dad?" Eyewitness News asked.

"It happens all the time," said Hughes.

In 2009 the State legislature passed a bill mandating financial literacy be taught to appropriate age school children in Indiana.

Wayne Township is not the only district that took the proper steps to make that happen. Washington Township allowed a credit union to set up shop in North Central High School - allowing students, as we found out last September, to set up their own accounts and learn about financial literacy first hand.

Aubrey Franklin, a senior at North Central, told us then how the program was helping her.

"It's a good experience because it actually makes them start to know how to do things on their own rather than getting out there and not knowing what to do and just starting a bank account for the first time," she said.

Haylee Teeple runs the Finance Center Federal Credit Union at North Central. She is on the front lines in this debate. She says being there every day makes a big difference.

"They are not afraid to ask because they know me and they are able to come here and feel comfortable and learn the steps to managing their account," said Teeple.

Anna Gomez, also a senior at North Central, noted that Teeple does more than just sit behind the counter at the credit union.

"She actually came down to my cosmetology class to teach us about saving and buying because I am a shopoholic. She really helped me by saving money and by not buying stuff I actually don't need," said Gomez.

But not all Indiana school districts have implemented financial literacy into the curriculum so now lawmakers are hoping this latest proposal will give schools a better road map to doing so for everyone's benefit.

Lawmakers are not the only ones interested in making this happen. Sen. Waltz says Old National Bank has already donated $250,000 to be used to teach financial literacy in southwest Indiana.

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