The following appeared in The Commercial Dispatch on March 17, 2016:
I want to commend you for your March 10th editorial, "Financial literacy should be part of the educational process."
Financial literacy has been a driving passion for me since becoming treasurer four years ago and I couldn't agree with you more that it needs to be taught in Mississippi's high schools.
Mississippi ranks at or near the very bottom in every study on financial literacy. And, we rank at the very top for poverty. This is no coincidence. As you note in your editorial, poverty can happen to everyone, particularly to those who lack the knowledge to manage their finances.
I have been working for several years to make financial education a high school graduation requirement. It has passed the Mississippi House three times. It is pending in the Senate now, and I am hopeful that it will finally pass there as well.
In the interim, I have established a public-private partnership to get financial education into as many high schools as possible across the state. Over 19,000 students in 230 schools participated in Treasurer's Education About Money (TEAM) in its inaugural year. We trained 555 teachers, too. The results are very encouraging. These students increased their financial awareness by 91% in benchmark assessments.
Like you, I applaud Mississippi State University for taking such strong and proactive steps to help their students gain these crucial life skills. But, I remain hopeful that we can make financial education a part of every Mississippi high school student's curriculum soon.
The writer is the state treasurer of Mississippi.