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Earlier this summer I penned an op-ed on my bill requiring personal financial basics to be taught in our high schools in Pennsylvania. Since that time a number of significant developments have occurred and I would like to provide an update on this important piece of legislation as we approach the end of the session year.

On Sept. 20, 2022, I partnered with FinEd50 and NFL stars Hines Ward, Brian Dawkins, and Brandon Copeland to highlight the importance of bringing financial education to Pennsylvania’s schools. Students from Cedar Crest High School and Eastern Lebanon Co. High School traveled to the Capitol to participate in a financial literacy event. After opening remarks from Auditor General Tim DeFoor and Speaker Bryan Cutler, I participated in a panel discussion describing why and how we can implement an effective personal finance course in Pennsylvania. Following the panel, the students played in a virtual video game of financial football where Brian Dawkins and Hines Ward acted as the team coaches. It was great to see our youth engaged, having fun and learning these vital life skills. The day was a huge success in bringing all sides together and I feel like we now have the momentum to get Senate Bill 1243 to the Governor’s desk this year.

I would like to take this moment to clear up some misconceptions about the class established by SB 1243. While some components of personal finances are included in the current Pennsylvania common curriculum, it is not covered in the standardized testing. Subsequently, there is an unfortunate gap between schools that do teach this material and those that do not cover these basic concepts. My office had reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Education earlier this year and they estimated nearly 50% of the Commonwealth’s graduating seniors would not have taken a course covering these issues. To correct this inconsistency, I introduced SB 1243 to make this class a graduation requirement of all high school students. To be clear, this class will not add to the overall credit requirement in the graduation load, it simply allows the student, in consultation with their guidance counselors, to substitute this course for another (social studies, humanities or math) credit that year.

SB 1243 will teach the importance of credit scores, APR for student loans and home mortgages, budgeting, compounding interest, saving for retirement, calculating and filing taxes, and other basic financial concepts. From daily purchases to long-term financial planning, becoming proficient at money management is a critical skill all Pennsylvanians need to succeed. If we are truly serious about giving our children the skills they need to be successful, it is these practical and bipartisan pieces of legislation we need to pass and get signed. SB 1243 passed the Senate on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 and is due to be considered by the House of Representatives next week.

Senator Chris Gebhard (Republican) is running for a full term for state Senate District 48 on November 8. Senate District 48 is comprised of all of Lebanon County and parts of Berks and Lancaster counties.