At a time when our economy has gone through one of the biggest upheavals most of us have lived through, you would think that people would be realizing that perhaps it would be helpful to have more people have at least a basic economics education. Not in California, apparently. Economist Greg Mankiw notes that the state of California is considering half of the current economics class requirement to cover personal finance issues
, rather than actual economics. Personal finance -- while related to economics -- is not economics. Already, the economics requirement is a single semester, rather than two semesters like many other required classes. As Mankiw notes:
The legislation is akin to requiring high school biology teachers to spend half their class time on issues of personal health and nutrition. Personal finance is a useful life skill, but students need a more thorough grounding in other basic economic principles than what can be learned in the other half of a single semester course. They need a framework to think about such as topics as market outcomes, price controls, taxes, international trade, environmental regulation, monetary and fiscal policy, and so on. The goal of high school economics should be to produce not just smarter decision makers at a personal level but better informed voters on election day.
Many of the bad decisions we talk about on a regular basis would be a lot less serious if people had a grounding in basic economics -- so it's quite sad to see educational goals heading the wrong way.