Tennessee ranks 47th in the nation for financial literacy, according to the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy — a problem Gov. Bill Haslam says needs to be turned around to build a more effective workforce.
“If people can learn not to be afraid of numbers early and not to be afraid of understanding the finances, they’ll be a much more productive employee,” Haslam told reporters Thursday after addressing elementary teachers at a summit sponsored by the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission.
“Obviously the challenge for our school systems is, given everything else we want them to do with also helping increase health habits, increase math and reading scores, they’ve got a lot of balls to juggle,” he said.
The day-long conference in Nashville included workshops about how to teach students to be financially fit, save for college and a home and outsmart scammers — topics Tennesseans struggle with compared to other states.
If students have a more well-rounded understanding of finances, the state economy will be stronger, said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. The students will also have the tools needed to succeed as individuals, he said.
“I’ve seen firsthand the gaps that exist between upper middle-class understanding financial literacy and lower-income families understanding of financial literacy, and it plays out over the course of people’s lives,” he said.