No more Personal Economics class

In the wake of the 2008 economic recession, the educational powers of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) made the Personal Economics and Finance course mandatory for all students. Since then, both students and schools have suffered the consequences.

Electives have taken a major enrollment hit, leading to many being cancelled and all the problems that go along with that, including hiring issues with teachers.

Besides the economic issues, the class itself unnecessary – the correct time to learn personal finance would be during eighth grade civics classes. The official name of the mandatory eighth grade civics class is “Civics and Economics,” further reducing the need for an additional class during a student’s high school tenure. It is when students are first exposed to paying taxes and basic economic principles.

In the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) curriculum for civics classes, basic economic principles are taught about three quarters of the way throughout the year. It makes much more sense to simply go more in-depth during the basic economics unit during the civics class rather than adding another class during the high school career.Why not just teach the economics class with more detail during that unit and save students some pain?

Integrating the Personal Finance and Economics class with the mandatory eighth grade civics class would make it much easier for students who are interested in pursuing the IB Diploma or the MYP certificate.  The requirements for either the diploma program or the MYP certificate include a fine arts class and (for the IB Diploma) four years of a foreign language, which complicates a student’s’ schedule.

While the IBMYP program does bear the brunt of the problems, students pursuing the Advanced Diploma take a hit as well.

Students can take the class online, but that takes up a period on their schedule that could be used for taking a class that fulfils the diploma requirements.

While some may argue that it teaches valuable practical lessons that students don’t normally learn in schools, it’s almost impossible to go through life without learning how to write a check or balance a checkbook. It’s either taught to you by a parent or guardian or through experience.

Junior Diva Chowdhary took the class during her freshman year, but thought that the lessons weren’t unique to just the class.

“I would have eventually learned it on my own,” Chowdhary said. “They should have definitely made it a shorter class, it takes way longer than it should.”

The Personal Finance and Economics class is an unfortunate opportunity lost that students are required to make to get their diploma. It’s harder to get an IB Diploma with it, or a high school diploma without it.