Has any commentator yet compared the No Child Left Behind act to a stew, one into which cooks dump whatever odds and ends and leftover bits they find in the kitchen, keeping the pot bubbling forever on the back of the stove? If not, allow us to be the first. The newest ingredient struggling to find its way into said pot is "financial literacy." Arkadi Kuhlmann, president and CEO of ING Direct USA, wrote an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette urging that this subject become part of every school's curriculum and incorporated into any NCLB reauthorization. He thinks "it makes little sense to leave financial literacy on the backburner of the debate" where it would keep company with that stewpot. Like so many education ideas, Kuhlmann's makes sense on first reading: more financial planning know-how for America's students is a fine thing; today's mortgage meltdown shows what happens when so many people lack an understanding of financial basics. But a similar case can be made for sundry other additions, too: obesity-prevention, environmental awareness, sex ed, and on and on. Our schools--and the federal law--need not take on more subjects when they haven't even mastered the basics. Waiter, take this murky stew away--Gadfly desires a consommé.
"The Private Sector: The ABCs of financial literacy and No Child Left Behind," by Arkadi Kuhlmann, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 1, 2008