I recently met with a group of high school graduates who are going to college to ask how we can improve our education system. One thing they mentioned was that they didn’t feel prepared for the real world. I started asking them questions to see what they meant. When we got to the topic of financial literacy, I was stunned by their lack of knowledge. They didn’t know the difference between a debit card and a credit card. One student didn’t even know that he was responsible for paying back the money withdrawn from a credit card.
While some congressmen are considering banning bitcoin, they overlook what the real problem is. The federal government shouldn’t go out of its way to ban innovative new technologies, but the government does play a role in funding age-appropriate financial education courses from kindergarten through 12th grade. As an educator and candidate for California’s 30th Congressional District in 2022, I consider this to be a moral imperative. We allow our teens to leave high school ill-prepared and prepare for failure.
Financial literacy courses are essential to teach the principles of saving, budgeting, and investing, which leads to financial responsibility. These courses provide students with specific skills that they can apply in the real world. Current California standards require that public school students take a one-semester business class that teaches the big picture of business but doesn’t address the practical skills people need to manage their money. Students learn about international trade and monetary policy, but they don’t learn how to find an apartment to rent or how to calculate credit card interest. Students need special courses on personal finance. You need to leave high school and know the difference between a debit and credit card. You need to understand that credit cards are inherently high yielding and that companies want people to get stuck in debt by making minimum payments that leave the principle largely untouched. They need to know how to make smart investments for themselves, weighing risks and potential rewards while keeping inflation and fees in mind.
Every student deserves to be taught financial literacy, but there is a deep inequality where students are actually given the opportunity. A government-funded program ensures that every student, regardless of family income, receives quality education. Without these courses, young people usually learn about finance from family members or are forced to figure everything out for themselves. This might not be a problem for children who grew up in wealthy families, but children from disadvantaged backgrounds may not have mentors or family members who are knowledgeable about finances. Young people who lack these skills are doomed to failure. You are prone to predatory lending. You risk falling for check cashing services and payday loan companies that promise service fees and rates that sound low but never are. You will likely be surprised by the minimum account balance fees and penalties for accidental overdrafts. Financial education gives children who grow up in poverty a chance in struggle.
As the economy changes with Bitcoin and blockchain technologies, a solid basic education in financial literacy is more important than ever to cope with an increasingly complex world. Bitcoin is already changing finances and investments and has the potential to revolutionize the entire economy. If the federal government banned Bitcoin, it wouldn’t destroy the technology, but it would help the American economy lose out to overseas markets and investors. Stifling innovation is never good for economic prosperity. This is a technology that will remain, and any financial literacy course properly conducted should teach students about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies so they can make their own decisions. A teacher should never advise a student to or not to make any type of investment, be it in stocks, bonds, or bitcoin. The teacher’s job is to help students educate themselves so they can make their own informed decisions.
Calls to ban Bitcoin are bad for the economy and ignore the right of individual Americans to use their own money as they see fit. These calls also ignore what the real problem is. More than half of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. The government must fulfill its obligation to provide every child with an education that prepares them for financial responsibility. Tens of millions of Americans have shopped into Bitcoin to build real wealth. It’s hard enough for ordinary people to get ahead. It is unscrupulous to believe that the government could or would pass a ban that would destroy all this wealth with the stroke of a pen. In Congress, I will fight for federal dollars to support financial education programs, and I will stand with the Bitcoin community against any attempt to ban it. We have to act together. Where do your representatives stand on Bitcoin? Is personal funding included in your state’s educational standards? Find out. To write letters. Support candidates who reflect your values and who fight for your interests and make your voice heard.
This is a guest post by Aarika Rhodes. The opinions expressed are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.