Schools need a 4th R: Realizing Riches

What follows is a "My View" column that I wrote for the Cape Cod Times while I was in high school. I am posting it here as my response to Tennessee's decision to require financial literacy classes:



We are approaching a retirement crisis. The average baby boomer household has a net worth of about $100,000, less than one-sixth of what most experts agree is needed for retirement. According to a recent article by actor, economist and writer Ben Stein, retiring baby boomers are headed for a decline in their standard of living similar to the one that swept this country in the 1930s. With the Social Security system that was supposed to serve as a safety net in limbo, pundits are lining up to blame just about everyone for the boomers' dismal financial situation. Some blame the politicians. Others blame a materialistic consumer culture characterized by conspicuous consumption. But I think there's one institution that no one is talking about that deserves a giant share of the blame: schools.

Americans have made poor decisions with money (a savings rate of zero, compared with the average Chinese household's 40% savings rate), landing themselves in the precarious position they are now in. That's largely a result of financial illiteracy. Far from correcting this problem, the schools have ignored it, and kids still know nothing about money.