Testimony of Dr. Michelle Walker-Davis, Executive Director DC Public Charter School Board
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Financial Literacy Education in Schools Amendment Act of 2021. DC PCSB supports the aims of the proposal; however, we have concerns about the process. We recognize the importance of setting students up to successfully manage their personal finances and to understand the economy as they enter college and the workforce. Eight of our high school LEAs currently offer a variety of financial literacy courses including personal finance, entrepreneurship, and economics. These classes help students manage their own money as well as provide insight into potential career fields.
Every public charter high school manages their own curriculum and course offerings. While they have exclusive control under the School Reform Act to do so, we believe it is important to have baseline standards for students across the District. However, these standards should not interfere with these exclusive controls. For example, public charter schools that offer financial literacy prefer providing it as an elective course as opposed to making it a graduation requirement. If this legislation continues through the legislative process, we recommend taking that approach to implementation.
The State Board of Education (SBOE), in coordination with the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE), works to create and approve statewide standards for schools in the District. A recent example of this is its revisions to the social studies standards. During the update to those standards, SBOE took great steps to ensure there were numerous opportunities for stakeholders to voice concerns and center on the best standards for students and schools. SBOE’s process is robust and includes multiple public feedback sessions with stakeholders to troubleshoot different issues. We think a similar style of coordination and a similar process run through OSSE and the SBOE would be more appropriate than creating or mandating these standards through the legislative process.