[Opinion] Schools should teach mandatory life skills like taxes and home economics


Illustration by Julia Landy

Sofia Osio, Section editor

Imagine you have finally completed your high school career and after four years, the only things you have learned is that America has a lifelong tendency of racism, that y=mx+b and that Shakespeare used a lot of figurative language. Unfortunately, for students across the United States, this imagination is a sad reality. 

In general, high schools over the past 10 years have slowly but surely deemed useless information in rigorous courses more crucial to a student’s future than life skills such as how to file a tax return, take out a loan, do a load of laundry or take care of a baby. 

While certain rigorous courses should be prioritized for students looking to make a career in a specific subject area, basic human life skills should be mandatory for all students, regardless of career interests. 

Filing taxes, taking out a loan and doing a load of laundry may seem like common sense to some adults; however, the vast majority of students in high school do not know how to even begin with these “basic” tasks due to the lack of a home economics and life skills courses mandated by the school systems. 

According to a 2018 JA Teens and Personal Finance Survey, when in need of financial advice, “Most teens go to their parents or guardians (72%). This is followed by online resources, such as social media and YouTube (33%), other family members other than parents or grandparents (31%), friends (28%) and grandparents (18%). While teens are inclined to think that personal finance should be taught at school, only one-in-five (18%) seek out information from their high school guidance counselor.”

The results of this survey show not only the severe lack of resources at school for students to receive financial education, but also the lack of trust when it comes to high school staff and students for life skills assistance. It is clear that schools nationwide need to do a better job at teaching basic life skills to their students to help them navigate the numerous amounts of financial knowledge needed once they are adults.

Home economics classes, which teach skills like cooking and personal finance, have slowly declined across the county for decades, largely due to a lack of funding from lawmakers who see the course material as unnecessary. What used to be a commonplace class with vital life skills has suffered a slow death because local governments just cannot see the importance of these classes and the impact they have on shaping teen lives.

According to U.S. News, “Only 13 states require high school students to take a personal-finance class to graduate, according to a survey released in March by the nonprofit Council for Economic Education (CEE). And although the recession has raised awareness about economic issues, it appears those heightened concerns have only prompted a few states to require a personal-finance class.”

It is clear that the United States high school system as a whole is severely lacking in their personal finance and home economics education. The government must step up to the plate when it comes to the next generation if they wish for a future of financially literate, self-sufficient adults who truly understand just how much money matters in this world as well as basic yet necessary life skills.