LOS ANGELES – Math isn’t always the most fascinating subject when it comes to a student’s high school education. Each Thursday one ninth grade advisory class at the Los Angeles High School of The Arts manages to get their student’s attention by teaching them real-world financial situations they will soon come across.
On this particular day, the class talked about entrepreneurship and the costs associated with starting a business. It is a path one freshman is now considering to pursue.
“It sounds like a really good idea actually you know nobody bossing me around, be my own boss,” Douglas said.
The financial literacy class is part of the More Program on campus where students spend one hour learning about financial topics like investing, credit cards, debt, entrepreneurship, and taxes. Topics that students like Douglas might not be well-versed in without this class. Most states, including California, do not require or include personal finance classes as part of the curriculum, according to the 2018 Survey of the States.
“Sometimes when I go out I like to spend my money a lot. And even my mom and a couple of her friends told me I [have to] start learning how to save, put it in a bank account, my savings account and just start to save. But I didn’t really, I didn’t really take that into account,” Douglas said.
This is the second semester for the More Program at LAHSA created by Anthony Dattilo, the founder of Building Blocks For Kids. His goal is to teach students about the ins and outs of personal finance and to help students make the right financial choices for their own future.
“I think it’s about making better decisions about their careers. Choosing something better for them when they leave high school and choosing a better topic when actually it comes to going into college and having more of a blueprint so that they can succeed and have a long-term goal,” Dattilo said.
Approximately 65 percent of 2018 college graduates graduated with an average of $29,000 in student loan debt, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. With more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt nationwide, many politicians and presidential candidates are trying to find an affordable solution to cut down that debt.
Dattilo and Mr. Farkas, a math teacher at LAHSA, believe the solution is with financial literacy courses that prepare students like Douglas early for the financial decisions they will have to make when it’s time to apply for college.
“It taught me a lot about like what saving could do for you because in the future you’re going to have a lot to pay for like college funds stuff like that and your business,” Douglas said.
Douglas still has about three and a half years of high school left, but he is ready to get a head start on preparing for his financial future while Farkas and Dattillo help the next generation of students think twice about how they make and spend their money.
The More Program is in need of donations to help support student-based learning activities, savings incentives, and to expand the program to additional students. The program is offered as an enrichment course for LAHSA ninth graders in addition to their high school curriculum.