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A Pair of Senators Are Trying to Get the Kiddos Hooked on Accounting In Grade School

Do you guys remember those after-school specials of the ’80s that made it seem like drug dealers hiding around every corner offering free drugs was going to be something one would have to be concerned about as we got older? I imagine I’m not the only one who was tremendously disappointed to find out there are no such drug dealers. Having to pay for our drugs aside, there was a lesson in there somewhere: the grown-ups were warning us to be cautious because kids are dumb and impressionable, and people who want to take advantage of that will be lurking around every billboard and TV commercial.

Well, in the spirit of gettin’ em started when they’re young, a pair of senators have introduced a new bill that hopes to get kids hooked on accounting in grade school. Let’s check it out:

Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced their STEM Education in Accounting Act, bipartisan legislation that would designate accounting as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subject, strengthening education and career pathways for the accounting profession and promoting diversity within the field.

The bill would amend the Every Student Succeeds Act to add accounting education programs as an allowable use of K-12 grant funding and promote high-quality accounting instruction for members of groups underrepresented in accounting careers. This bipartisan legislation comes at a time when the accounting profession, like many sectors of the economy, is struggling with a shortage of talent to fill available jobs. While the pandemic has exacerbated the problem in many sectors, the accounting profession has long faced such a shortage.

The Every Student Succeeds Act replaced the notorious No Child Left Behind law of the Bush era and was signed into law by President Obama in 2015. Here is a thorough read on what it means for K-12 public education in the United States should that be something you’re interested in learning more about on a quiet Monday before Christmas.

Including accounting in STEM education is a no-brainer, according to Senator Collins, because math. You know, the M in STEM. Also known as that thing most of you never do at work but whatever, let’s roll with it anyway.

“Mathematics is a critical skill that can help students unlock countless doors to high-paying, in-demand fields. One of those doors leads to the accounting profession whose work plays a key role in providing capital markets with confidence and assurance in financial reporting,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would designate accounting as a STEM subject. I encourage all of my colleagues to join me in promoting accounting education, improving students’ finance skills, and strengthening the pipeline of future accountants, who play such a vital role in our financial system.”

High-paying you say? That’s about as believable as the lie about shady drug dealers passing out joints on the playground. But I digress …

You’ll note the accounting pipeline shoutout at the end there. Which leads us to this comment from the AICPA gleefully rubbing their hands together at the idea of exposing kids to accounting:

“For years, the AICPA has championed the inclusion of accounting in STEM programs and we are grateful to Senators Collins and Rosen for their leadership in recognizing the connection between accounting and technology,” said AICPA President & CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA. “The technological skills CPAs learn help them make informed decisions, solve complex problems and enhance the delivery of services throughout the audit, finance and tax arenas. As the profession continues to evolve its services in areas like cybersecurity, information integrity and systems controls and its use of emerging technologies and techniques, such as blockchain and data analytics, the integration of this knowledge with quantitative reasoning skills enhances accountants’ value to their clients, to the profession and to the finance and tax industries. This bipartisan legislation is a recognition of the value the accounting profession provides and will help to diversify and expand the profession.”

Comments like these are exactly why the “Smithers, Fetch Me the CGMAs” meme exists.

As fun as it is to point and laugh at the AICPA’s desperation to stuff the pipeline with warm bodies, there’s nothing wrong with introducing kids to accounting when they’re young. Surely there are worse things to expose them to. Like … you know what, let’s not go there.

A similar bill was introduced in the House earlier this year. We’ll keep you posted on any developments. Personally I’m looking forward to the potential for T account coloring pages!

Further reading:
AICPA Supports STEM Education in Accounting Act [CPA Practice Advisor]

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  1. I will never forget the time when my son, the future engineer, took high school accounting. I was helping him with his homework one day (pointing out all the obvious flaws, like unbalanced journal entries, things that obviously didn’t foot, etc.).

    Son: So, Dad, this is what you actually do?
    Me: Yes.
    Son: Pause…So Dad, really, This is what you actually do?
    Me: Yes, really.
    Son: Longer pause…No really, THIS is what you actually do!?
    Me: Yes, Son, REALLY.
    Son: No wonder you hate your job.

  2. When I was in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I got as far as my senior year without having a clue. I took a bookkeeping class that year and enjoyed it (or at least didn’t hate it as much as all my other classes). When it was time to choose a major in college, that bookkeeping class was the only thing that came to mind. And that’s why I’ve been an accountant for over 20 years. Needless to say, I am now very much against teaching accounting to kids in high school.

    I could’ve been an astronaut, or a professional baseball player, or maybe even the President of the United States now…if only I hadn’t taken that damn bookkeeping class in high school.

    1. Yes but that high school accounting class is what convinced my son to become an engineer.

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