News / Edmonton

Public school trustee argues for financial literacy

Michael Janz introducing motion to add finances, consumer rights to curriculum

Edmonton Public School Board Chair Michael Janz.

File photo

Edmonton Public School Board Chair Michael Janz.

An Edmonton Public School Board Trustee will argue Tuesday that financial literacy and consumer rights should be taught to students at all grade levels.

Michael Janz will introduce a motion at the board’s next meeting to advocate for the province to add more money matters into the curriculum.

“In a world where youth are targeted more and more often, it’s essential that we teach not just financial literacy but also consumer rights education,” Janz told Metro.

“We know students are exposed to concepts like in-app purchases or advertising during video games and technology, or just out there in the general public, at earlier and earlier ages.”

Janz’s motion has three components: that financial literacy be added to the new curriculum in age-appropriate ways at all grade levels; that consumer rights education be incorporated; and that schools start right away on developing pilot projects or local courses on these topics.

He said financial literacy is “salted” throughout the current curriculum, but how much a student learns is highly dependent on their teacher. For example, a math teacher might use finance-related problems, but nothing says they have to.

He cites the 1990s TV show Street Cents as an example of effectively teaching kids to be discerning customers and evaluate “truthiness” in marketing.

“It’s essential that students are not only financially literate in that they understand concepts like compound interest, but they’re also smart consumers who know their rights, they read the fine print on contracts, and they are able to carefully weigh their long-term interests,” Janz said.

He said recent news stories have highlighted the need for consumer rights education – namely bank employees speaking out about being pressured into upselling, and the passenger who was violently kicked off an oversold United Airlines flight.

Students should know they have rights and there are advocates who will fight for them, he said.

“There are avenues that they have to stand up for their rights as consumers in our society.”

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