MCPS considers financial literacy a graduation requirement

At that January meeting, Hana O’Looney, a student board member, told her colleagues that “paying taxes is not an optional thing in life” and that learning to manage finances should not no longer be optional.

Seven school districts in Maryland already require students to take a financial literacy course.

Prince George’s County will be added to that group in the school year that begins in 2023, and the Montgomery County School Board will discuss the matter at its meeting on Tuesday.



In January, board members heard from school officials about what would be needed to add the course to the credits already required for students to graduate.

At that time, Maria Tarasuk, who works in the Montgomery County Public Schools Department of Curriculum and Instruction, told council members, “This decision is not just a yes or no.

Tarasuk explained that 22 credits are currently required to graduate, leaving two options.

“One would be to simply add the graduation credit requirement and increase the total number of credits needed to 22.5” or, she said, the current number of credits could be maintained by removing a credit in another field of study.

At that January meeting, Hana O’Looney, a student board member, told her colleagues that “paying taxes is not an optional thing in life” and that learning to manage finances should not no longer be optional.

She also said school officials should interview recent graduates about what they wish they had learned in school.

“It’s going to be at the top of the list,” she said, based on her discussions with recent graduates.

Board member Scott Joftus asked if administration officials could reach out to some of the other school districts that need the course to see how it’s working.

“If they say ‘yes, this is the best thing we’ve ever done’, that certainly moves me,” he said.

And if other school systems had negative experiences, he would want to know that too, he explained.

According to figures provided by Tarasuk at the January meeting, more than 1,000 MCPS students were already below the credits needed to graduate.

Board member Lynne Harris suggested that some of these students may have been taking courses they didn’t find useful. Financial literacy, she suggested, “is exactly the type of learning that I think a student who may have been a bit disengaged in would find value in,” she said.

The subject is under discussion at Tuesday’s meeting. It’s not on the agenda as an action item for a vote.

Sarah J. Greer