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What would boosting financial literacy do for the economy?

It is a well-documented reality that the foundation of our economy in Illinois and the rest of the country is the privately owned small business. That suggests that there is no lack of interest or entrepreneurial spirit within the average population. But might there be even more room for improving the environment? What might that take?

Those with experience in bankruptcy law might agree that one thing that would be helpful is if the broader population had a firmer grasp of what bankruptcy is, what it can do. Rather than being a scarlet letter of failure, bankruptcy in its various forms serves to provide debt relief. The idea being that by taking advantage of the protections of bankruptcy filers will be able to more quickly recover if they should try something new and face financial difficulty.

Unfortunately, there is a widely held view in many sectors that the financial literacy of the average population is well below what it needs to be. As a result, experts say a huge gap in wealth exists in the U.S. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers U.S., those most threatened by the gap are women, minorities and undereducated individuals. But it says businesses are threatened, too, because diversity of workforce is seen as imperative for general success.

But how should the problem be addressed? PwC says the focus needs to be on changing the country's educational system so that financial education becomes a priority. The company says most teachers across the K-12 grade spectrum agree students need basic skill in budgeting, awareness about retirement planning and more in order to be savvy decision makers. But they say few teachers include it as part of what they teach. Most also say they don't think these important fundamentals are being taught at home.

PwC says it's time for parents to demand that teachers be given the resources they need to teach business and financial basics early in elementary school. This includes making sure the teachers are as prepared to teach the subject as they are to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. They should also have access to reliable material resources.

What do you think? Is this something that schools around Chicago should be paying more attention to?

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