For Immediate Release - May 03, 2005

Romney Administration Launches Statewide High School Financial Literacy Initiative

Over 130 Schools On Board to Teach Voluntary Curriculum

(Stoneham, MA) The Romney Administration today announced the launch of "Hi-Fi" , a statewide voluntary high school financial literacy initiative aimed at equipping teens with the knowledge they need to make smart personal finance choices.

Joined by Stoneham High School students and educators, state Consumer Affairs Director Beth Lindstrom noted that her office has already distributed the curriculum to teachers from 136 Massachusetts high schools, representing at least 10,000 students who will learn personal finance skills in the next school year. The National Endowment for Financial Education ® ("NEFE ®") curriculum was piloted this year by Stoneham High School teacher Deb Deacon, who taught the personal finance course to her 125 marketing students.

Governor Mitt Romney congratulated Director Lindstrom's development of the "Hi-Fi"program. "Teaching students the ABC's of managing money will benefit them throughout life. Many students after graduation don't know how to file tax returns, establish good credit or apply for a bank loan. Teaching them the basics now will open doors for them later," said Governor Romney.

Director Lindstrom said dismal national statistics point to the need to teach personal finance basics to students before they graduate from high school. "Most juniors and seniors are earning money in their first after-school jobs. Whether they are saving for college or a first big purchase, they need the knowledge to manage their money and credit so that it doesn't ultimately manage them," said Lindstrom.

Massachusetts Education Commissioner David Driscoll supports "Hi-Fi" and the nationally endorsed curriculum, which would be taught in grades eleven and twelve following the completion of MCAS requirements. "There is clear evidence that young people lack a basic understanding of how to manage their finances. This has led to unprecedented debt among our youths and needs to be corrected. As educators, we must do our part to equip our children with the skills they need to manage their money," said Commissioner Driscoll.

Used in 20,000 schools throughout the nation, the NEFE ® curriculum is module-based and includes student assessments for its six units that address financial planning, budgeting, savings, investment options, credit and insurance basics. The course meets the state's mandatory curriculum frameworks and teachers will earn professional development points towards re-accreditation for teaching it.

The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs will serve as "Hi-Fi" program coordinator, distributing free NEFE ® course workbooks and teacher manuals to participating high schools and providing free teacher-training sessions. Four training sessions have already been scheduled in May at locations in Boston (5/26), Brockton (5/18), Lawrence (5/4) and Worcester (5/25).

Director Beth Lindstrom has created a partnership with the state's banking, credit union and mortgage associations as well as regional workforce investment boards in order to form a network of speakers' bureaus. "We believe that local business and financial service professionals can play a key role in supplementing this curriculum by providing real-world knowledge right in the classroom," said Lindstrom.

Professional and community associations and school districts not yet participating in "Hi-Fi"are encouraged to contact the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs at (617) 973-8721.

Supporters of "Hi-Fi" include the Credit Union League of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Bankers Association, Massachusetts Mortgage Association, Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association, Dr. William L. Anthes, President and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education ®, Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks Steven Antonakes, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education David Driscoll, Massachusetts Department of Workforce and Labor Director Jane Edmonds and the Massachusetts Workforce Investment Boards Association.

NATIONAL STATS THAT SUPPORT THE NEED FOR "Hi-Fi"

  • Nationwide surveys measuring high school seniors' knowledge of personal finance since 1997 revealed overwhelming failing results. Average scores for 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2004 were 57.3%, 51.9%, 50.2% and 52.3% respectively. Only 6.1% of seniors in 33 states who took the 2004 survey scored a "C" or better.
    - Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy
  • The average U.S. teenager spends about $5,400 annually. Collectively, teens spent $175 billion in 2003.
    -NEFE ® & Teenage Research Unlimited
  • Young adult households (aged 18-24) with debt spend nearly 30 cents of every dollar earned servicing debt.
    -Demos, N.Y.C.-based Public Policy Organization
  • Only 15% of high school graduates nationally have taken a course covering personal finance content.
    -JumpStart News Release, March 2003
  • Only 26% of teens and young adults say their parents taught them how to manage money.
    -National Council on Economic Education
  • From 1990 to 1999, there was a 51% increase in annual bankruptcy filings among adults under 25 years of age.
    - NEFE ® White Paper 2002
  • "Indeed, improving basic financial education at the elementary and secondary school levels will provide a foundation of financial literacy that can help prevent younger people from making poor decisions that can take years to overcome."
    -Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, April 2003