On Priorities and the High School Curriculum

Had an interesting discussion with some of my friends in the public education sector this weekend.

The discussion became one of “How could 10 million people sign their names to exotic or predatory mortgage contracts and credit card agreements?”

Hmmm.  Maybe it’s because we don’t teach kids to calculate things like mortgage costs or borrowing interest rates in high school. 

This is not a post in which I’ll blame banks and mortgage companies exclusively for the sub prime borrowing binge…in many cases the borrowers were smoking the same angel dust that the lend-to-securitize factory was on.  But a lot of the borrowers never had a shot to know what they were in for to begin with.

While there is some evidence of Consumer Economics classes starting to be offered, high schools everywhere are sending students out into the world with the ability to measure the sides of an isosceles triangle, but not even a basic understanding of how to read a financial contract.

Below is a brief and incomplete list of some of the things we’ve decided to emphasize in America’s high schools instead…

  • Earth Science
  • Trigonometry
  • Algebra
  • Pre-Algebra
  • Algebra on Rollerblades
  • African History
  • European History
  • Calculus
  • Women’s Studies
  • Poetry Composition
  • Intro to Poetry Composition
  • Kinesiology (used to be gym class)
  • Sex Education
  • AP Sex Education
  • Newborn Care
  • Geometry
  • Intro to Computers (seriously)
  • Latin

Then these kids get sent to college where they can get their first lesson in incurring crushing debt.  The good news is, within 5 and a half beer-soaked years, they’ll be back on your doorstep with their criminology degrees ready to pay that back.

Now if only they had learned anything about real-world finance…

The poor kids don’t stand a chance and in case you were wondering, this is how we get an epidemic of “normal” people being foreclosed upon in record numbers.

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