2022 Legislative Update
During the 2022 legislative session, Think New Mexico supported Senate Bill 177, which would have made personal finance a high school graduation requirement for New Mexico students.
Senate Bill 177 was designed to give maximum flexibility to local school districts and schools in how to implement the personal finance graduation requirement, allowing them to offer it as a stand-alone personal finance course (as some already are), substitute it for a math credit, or incorporate it into a personal finance and economics course. This legislation would also allow teachers with endorsements in mathematics, social studies, business education, and family and consumer science to teach this course, providing even more options for local schools.
Unfortunately, Senate Bill did not receive a message from the governor, so it was not allowed to be heard during the 30-day session.
However, Think New Mexico successfully advocated for the Public Education Department to add financial literacy to the state’s education standards. In October of 2021 the New Mexico Public Education Department released an update to its K-12 Social Studies standards, which detail the concepts that students should learn in classes like history and economics.
Because that initial draft did not add any financial literacy benchmarks, Think New Mexico wrote our own, based on national best practices and the standards in place in other states like Colorado, and we urged the Public Education Department (PED) to include them. We activated our supporters, who submitted 263 public comments in support of our proposed standards, including powerful personal testimony from students, parents, teachers, and graduates of New Mexico’s public schools. The PED took notice of this strong public response, and they created a new anchor standard for personal finance and added 33 specific financial literacy standards, 25 of which came from Think New Mexico’s recommendations.
With this change, New Mexico will no longer be one of only five states that fails to include financial literacy in its education standards. The new standards will ensure students learn key skills and concepts like how to budget, open a bank account, make smart credit choices, and apply for financial aid to pay for college.
2021 Legislative Update
During the 2021 legislative session, four bills were introduced that would implement Think New Mexico’s recommendation of making financial literacy a high school graduation requirement.
Senate Bill 170, introduced by Senator Siah Hemphill (D-Silver City); House Bill 163, introduced by Representatives Willie Madrid (D-Chaparral), Moe Maestas (D-Albuquerque), Meredith Dixon (D-Albuquerque), Natalie Figueroa (D-Albuquerque), and Jane Powdrell-Culbert (R-Albuquerque); and House Bill 302, introduced by Representatives Cathrynn N. Brown (R-Carlsbad) and Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena) would all make a one-semester class in financial literacy a graduation requirement for all of New Mexico’s public high school students.
House Bill 83, introduced by House Education Chair Andres Romero, would revamp New Mexico’s high school curriculum to make it more relevant and engaging for students. This includes adding a requirement for a one-semester course in financial literacy or economics (which includes a financial literacy component).
We organized a coalition of organizations, including educators, chambers of commerce, and banks and credit unions, to advocate for the passage of legislation to make financial literacy a graduation requirement.
House Bill 163 passed two House committees, the House unanimously, and the Senate Education Committee unanimously. Unfortunately, the bill ran out of time awaiting a vote of the full Senate. Think New Mexico is now working with legislators from across the political spectrum to make sure that the financial literacy graduation requirement is enacted next year.
New Mexico currently ranks 47th for overall financial literacy according to the online personal finance website WalletHub. Personal finance courses teach students important life skills like how to make a budget, open an account at a bank or credit union, save and invest for their futures, apply for financial aid for higher education, and avoid high-cost debt.
Personal finance is currently offered as an elective in New Mexico, yet only about 11% of students actually take the course. A recent poll conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 88% of U.S. adults think their state should require a personal finance course for high school graduation. Furthermore, 80% of U.S. adults say they wish they had been required to complete a course focused on personal finance education during high school.
Thirty states have made personal finance a graduation requirement, with 22 states adding it in the last decade. South Carolina recently became the 15th state to guarantee a standalone personal finance course to all high school students prior to graduation. Fifteen other states require personal finance to be taught within another course, such as economics.
Think New Mexico recommends making a course in financial literacy or personal finance a high school graduation requirement and adding it to the state’s education standards.
Read an editorial from the Albuquerque Journal about Think New Mexico’s successful effort to add personal finance to the state’s education standards • February 18, 2022
Read an article from the Associated Press about Think New Mexico’s successful effort to add personal finance to the state’s education standards • February 16, 2022
Read a guest editorial from financial literacy teacher Linda Wilson about the importance of making personal finance a high school graduation requirement • January 16, 2022
Read an editorial from the Santa Fe New Mexican about the need to make financial literacy a high school graduation requirement • October 22, 2021
Read an opinion editorial by Fred Nathan about the need to make financial literacy a high school graduation requirement • March 19, 2021