… Young adults today are accumulating significantly larger amounts of credit card debt than did their parents at the same age, according to a January 2013 report from the Ohio State University. In many cases, the debt will not be completely paid off in the individual’s lifetime.

… An August 2013 Northwestern University study validates a logical conclusion: high debt load has a negative impact on blood pressure and other vital signs. In other words, too much debt is bad for your health.

While government and business should take note of these facts, the studies underscore a special responsibility for schools: “Personal Financial Literacy.” In fact, the subject comprises one of New Jersey’s unique curriculum standards that involve not only academic knowledge, but also important life skills. As we implement the nationwide Common Core State Standards in mathematics and language arts, New Jersey’s academic goals in Personal Financial Literacy and other areas will remain in effect.

A few years ago, the state Board of Education adopted the financial literacy standards, which address areas such as credit and debt management; planning, saving and investing; and civic financial responsibility. Indicators of progress include determining the potential consequences of “easy access” credit; knowing legal and ethical business behavior; and understanding the effects of entrepreneurship on economic stability and the quality of life.

These concepts are intertwined with many areas of the school curriculum. Nonetheless, implementing them as a new set of standards may have proved challenging to school districts.

One organization that successfully assists school districts is Junior Achievement of New Jersey. In 2012-2013, Junior Achievement’s no-cost financial education programs reached more than 44,500 students and enabled school districts to provide a curriculum that met the Personal Financial Literacy Standards. The Junior Achievement program uses a turn-key approach to training and involves volunteers from the business community, along with district teachers.

Recently, I was asked by Junior Achievement of New Jersey to write a letter of commendation for its many programs. It is a letter that I will write without hesitation, based on my own experience.  As an educator for more than 40 years, I have witnessed the positive impact that Junior Achievement can have on students’ academic and social lives. The organization’s programs engage students as peer mentors, collaborators on projects, and learners of successful business practices. The ultimate result is future leadership—in the business world, the community and the family.

Earlier this year, I was very proud to have been appointed to the Junior Achievement of New Jersey board of directors, which has given me direct insight into the organization’s commitment to young people.

Junior Achievement was founded in 1919; it was established in New Jersey 60 years ago, and it has positively influenced countless students. You can find out more about the organization and its programs at www.janj.org.

Finance is a part of the fabric of life in our nation. Teaching our students to navigate through financial issues in the workplace and at home is a standard we all must meet.

These are my Reflections. I look forward to hearing yours. Contact me at [email protected].