Prince George’s opposes financial literacy graduation requirement

Should high school students in Maryland be required to pass a financial literacy course before graduating?

Some state lawmakers say yes. Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot agrees.

But members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education said Thursday that while they might like the idea, they can’t afford it.

“For our own financial literacy issues, we would say no to (the) 65 [full-time employees],” that the program would require, said Peggy Higgins, the board’s vice chair.

Prince George’s, like other school boards across the state, is being asked to support an initiative by a group of state senators who want to make financial literacy a graduation requirement. Franchot has started a petition in support of the effort.

Prince George’s Superintendent William Hite Jr. recommended that the board oppose the bill. The Maryland State Board of Education has opposed the measure in previous years.

“There is no problem with making this a graduation requirement, the problem is making it an unfunded mandate,” Hite said, noting the program would come with a $4 million pricetag the county would have to absorb.

“I’m sure you will explain this to our comptroller,” board chairwoman Verjeana Jacobs said to Hite after the unanimous voice vote in opposition to the proposal. “He will not like that.”

In other state positions, the board voted against backing a state bill that would increase the amount of time students spend in physical education and took no position on a measure that would allow parents to take unpaid leave to attend parent teacher conferences.

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.

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