WFSU Public Media
By Ryan Dailey
May 2, 2019
In the first legislative session since the passing of Senator Dorothy Hukill, lawmakers have pushed through a piece of legislation she backed for years. The bill creates a mandatory financial literacy course for high school students.
“This is so important to me, because of my good friend, Senator Dorothy Hukill,” Hutson said. “She fought so hard for this piece of legislation, and I’m glad we can do it for her.”
That’s Republican Senator Travis Hutson, who became emotional as the bill passed in his chamber Thursday. Hutson carried the legislation this session on behalf of his late friend and colleague. He calls it “transformational” for the state’s education system.
“It’s stuff that, if you hadn’t learned it, you would go through it in the growing pains of becoming an adult – trying to stumble through figuring it all out. We do a crash course in a half a semester,” Hutson said after filing the bill in February.
Hutson says as it stands, financial literacy curriculum is packed into about two weeks of a high school economics course.
“I’d rather them learn more microeconomics in economics, because they do learn a lot, and then get into financial literacy on its own – and not be shoved into a two week curriculum,” Hutson said.
But the creation of a half-credit financial literacy course isn’t all the bill does. It also looks to breathe life back into career and technical education, or CTE, in high schools.
“It creates a new 18-credit CTE pathway to high school graduation with a focus on vocational and technical training,” Hutson said.
And, for students who aren’t excelling in the traditional academic pathway to graduation, it will require districts to inform those students of the more career-oriented option.
“It requires an academic advisor on CTE options for students who are at risk of not graduating, and fall below a 2.0,” Hutson explained.
When students are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives, Hutson says, they’ll have a day to be recognized:
“It establishes a college and career decision day to recognize student for their post-high school plans.”
With respect to the financial literacy course, Hutson says ultimately it will work out to a cost savings for the state.
“I think when you look at financial literacy, we’ve got a lot of people who are going into debt and are trying to figure out life at a young age,” Hutson said. “And if we can teach them this, even if there’s a front end cost – the back end benefits are going to be tremendous to the state.”
When it came time for a Senate vote, the measure passed unanimously. And the chamber’s president, Senator Bill Galvano, had some heartwarming words for Hutson before moving on to the next bill in the waning days of session.
“Senator Hutson I am absolutely confident that Senator Hukill’s looking down, smiling, and she loves that 40-0,” Galvano said.
The bill will now head to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who is almost certain to sign it into law. DeSantis has been a vocal supporter of career education in the K-12 system since before taking office.