Operation Personal Finance: Implementation Blueprint

The Spectator Editorial Board brings up possible ways to increase financial literacy among the student body.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Vivian Teo

Many Stuyvesant students, whether as freshman or in the last moments of our senior year, remember the first few months of school when we had virtually no say in the classes that we took. As part of the Stuyvesant graduation requirements, students must not only take the usual core classes, but also have to receive credit for completing five-tech and 10-tech courses. The underclassmen have always had limited ability to choose courses according to their preference, typically taking the mandated music, art, and computer science classes, while the scope of available tech courses increases considerably for upperclassmen. Despite presenting a wide range of options open mainly to juniors and seniors, these 10-tech classes lack any practical business or finance-related courses that would likely be valuable for Stuyvesant students as they enter the real world.

An immediate solution to this problem would be to expand the number of sections that the current Personal Finance elective offers to students. This would allow more students to be able to take the class, which would help them become financially literate. In addition, making this elective available to underclassmen such as sophomores would also be extremely beneficial, as the elective options open to them are not as abundant as they are for seniors. Not only would this allow students to learn about managing their own finances earlier, but it would also allow a greater number of students who are interested in the topic to take the class. The current sophomore electives such as Molecular Science, Urban Ecology, and Nutritional Science are all STEM-based, and having a financial literacy elective would expand the scope of the elective options.

If Stuyvesant were to expand sections of the course, there would need to be more teachers to instruct the class. Some viable instructors could be any teachers who may have background knowledge in finance and feel comfortable teaching the class. The same way that AP Psychology, for example, has both science and social studies sections, Personal Finance can be dually taught by math and social studies teachers, or other teachers with sufficient experience in the subject. The administration should place emphasis on hiring teachers with such finance backgrounds to teach these additional sections. Mathematics teacher David Peng has already developed an extensive curriculum for his Personal Finance course, which numerous students have applauded. If implemented as a tech requirement, the Personal Finance class would become one of the most highly demanded tech classes in the future. Stuyvesant students appreciate its value and want to see the class grow.

In the long-run, the Personal Finance elective should be expanded into a five-tech or 10-tech requirement. In order to make sure all students are getting the financial education they need, it would be ideal to have it as a mandatory class, like Health. As an alternative, however, it should be added as a tech-class option. If the school can have Drafting and Video Game Design be tech requirement options (which, while they are fascinating classes, may not be as urgent to a student’s future), then it is only logical for Personal Finance, a class whose lessons will be applicable to every student’s life, to be a tech requirement option as well. Though the class is not by definition a tech class, it does have technical components, and there are dozens of other non-tech courses that fall under this requirement, such as Biology, Social Science, Math, and Chemistry Regeneron. If these classes can fulfill the tech requirement, it is plausible that a Personal Finance class would be able to as well.

While we appreciate the administration’s creation of the Personal Finance elective this year, the implementation of a single section class offered solely to seniors is not enough. We hope the administration will recognize financial illiteracy as the epidemic that it is and fulfill their obligation to provide Stuyvesant students with the most cohesive and useful education possible.