SMOB Hana O’Looney proposes required semester-long finance course


Greer Vermilye

If the Board approves SMOB Hana O’Looney’s proposal for a mandatory financial literacy course for high school students, the requirement will take effect with the graduating class of 2028.

By Samantha Wang

Student Member of the Board Hana O’Looney proposed a required semester-long financial literacy course for high school students at a Board of Education meeting on October 5. If the Board approves the plan, the requirement will begin in the 2023–2024 academic year.

The class would teach students the foundations of financial planning, including skills such as filing taxes, applying for student financial aid and understanding credit scores. The Board is analyzing the feasibility of O’Looney’s proposal and plans to finalize a decision regarding the potential requirement at its next meeting on October 26. 

Whitman economics teacher Wayne Jacobson believes that the course would be of value to future students because of the universal significance that financial literacy holds, he said. Jacobson also hopes that the knowledge students would gain from the course would help them handle any financial crisis that may occur after they graduate from high school. 

“If the class is taught well, students are going to leave with a lot of practical information that will actually help them with their life,” Jacobson said. “Hopefully the future generation won’t make as many mistakes as older generations who didn’t have access to this knowledge at a young age.”

Although the class would only take up a semester of a student’s school year, Jacobson said he thinks that the 18 weeks of learning would suffice to educate students about the basics of finance. Jacobson’s AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics classes each last for only one semester, and that gives him enough time to develop students’ comprehension of the subjects, he said.

“More time is always better, but a semester is enough for the basics,” Jacobson said. “In my economics classes right now, we only have a semester dedicated to both micro and macro economics, which has been working since the course was introduced.”

If the Board approves O’Looney’s proposal, they’ll finalize the details of the proposition in January.

Some students, including junior Isha Iyengar, believe that a mandatory financial readiness class would be so beneficial that the Board should implement the requirement for students who graduate before the graduating class of 2028. 

“It’s great that the class of 2028 would be able to experience these courses,” Iyengar said. “However, I think that this should be pushed to begin for the class of 2026 or earlier.”

Junior Aleksandar Ivanovic, the president of Whitman’s Marketing and Trade Club, agreed that the subject would be uniquely meaningful to the students who would experience the class.

“There are a lot of required courses here at Whitman that aren’t really universally beneficial, like art or music courses,” Ivanovic said. “Finance, on the other hand, is going to help you in the future when you have to make financial decisions by yourself.”