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Amended bill would change requirements for proposed financial literacy instruction in Ind. schools

Indiana Senator Mike Gaskill presents an amendment to his bill that would require students to receive instruction on financial literacy in schools.
Indiana General Assembly
Sen. Mike Gaskill, a Republican from Pendleton, presents an amendment to his bill that would require students to receive instruction on financial literacy in schools.

Senate Bill 35 was amended to allow students different options to receive instruction on financial responsibility.

A bill that would require students to receive instruction on financial literacy in schools was amended significantly in the House Education Committee Wednesday.

SB 35 initially called for a personal financial responsibility course as a graduation requirement for all students from public, charter or state-accredited nonpublic schools. The bill would now allow students the option to receive instruction on financial responsibility through a separate course or as units incorporated into other courses.

Sen. Mike Gaskill, a Republican from Pendleton, authored the bill, which the full Senate already passed.

He said incorporating this material as units in other courses does not seem practical.

“If you did try to cover it as units in other courses, I'm afraid that you would detract from the main mission of those other courses as well,” he said.

Gaskill said, as a financial services employee, he also does not see a way in which this could be taught effectively unless it was an entirely separate course. He added the Indiana Department of Education also sees this course as being effective as a longer, standalone course.

“They were concerned that perhaps they hadn't crossed the bridge yet of whether or not it should be a semester or a whole year course,” he said. “So I think it's that important.”

Concerns about the initial bill from other lawmakers and education leaders centered around its flexibility. During initial hearings for this bill, lawmakers expressed concerns that implementing another course would establish another “mandate or regulation” on teachers.

During committee discussion in the House Wednesday, Gaskill said the bill was designed to provide the “maximum flexibility” for teachers.

Flexibility for students was another concern.

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Tim McRoberts is with the Indiana Association of School Principals. He said, if added as a separate course, financial literacy could take away from other courses students could take.

“Any time you talk about adding something to a diploma requirement, yes, it might mean that a fine arts class that a student wanted to take, they may not be able to,” he said. “So, that's always a concern.”

Another change in the amendment is that only public and charter schools would be required to implement this instruction – removing state-accredited nonpublic schools from this requirement.

John O’Neal, with the Indiana State Teachers Association, said this is concerning.

“We would like to see this in all schools if it passes and not singling out just publics, but also, the lists: voucher schools, charter schools, [etc.],” he said.

Rep. Vernon Smith, a Democrat from Gary, expressed similar concerns.

“I like the amendment. I'm just concerned with the language that strikes–or the fact that we strike out the accredited [nonpublic] schools,” he said.

Despite these concerns, the amendment still passed seven to three.

The bill passed as amended unanimously out of the House Education Committee passed the bill as amended unanimously. It now heads to the full House for consideration.

Violet is IPB's daily news reporter. Contact her at vcomberwilen@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen.
Copyright 2023 IPB News.

Violet Comber-Wilen

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