U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stressed the importance of making financial literacy a staple of the American education system at Pensions & Investments' Investment Innovation and the Global Future of Retirement conference and urged attendees to help educators.
“You guys have the knowledge,” Mr. Duncan told the executives at the conference. “We can't do this alone.”
In an interview conducted by Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson, Mr. Duncan said seeing so many families without savings and without a basic understanding about how to prepare for retirement has him “tremendously” worried about the future.
“The lack of preparation for retirement, the lack of savings, particularly among the black and Latino populations, is devastating,” Mr. Duncan said.
Although he was happy to see a number of states start financial literacy programs for high school students, Mr. Duncan stressed the importance of starting financial literacy education as early as possible. He also noted it's a topic that students find interesting, and teachers can use it to engage their students.
“This is a great way to teach math. Kids care about money. They're interested in this,” he said.
Mr. Duncan added that although some progress had been made in teaching young people about finance and planning for retirement, the U.S. still had a “long, long way to go” in financial literacy education and is falling behind a number of other countries.
“In a global competitive economy, we're not where we're supposed to be,” he said. “So I feel a sense of urgency.”