Critics have opposed the use of Dave Ramsey’s “Foundations in Personal Finance” textbook in Pasco County schools to teach financial literacy due to various ideological concerns.
According to the critics, the book does not focus on critical mathematical skills, decries all forms of debt, and inappropriately alludes to the Bible.
“Considering all of the controversial — and that’s putting it mildly — subject matter we see in books and textbooks these days, that’s a laugh in my opinion,” a district source told the New York Post. They added that the book included some Bible verses.
Pasco County schools adopted the usage of the book in school curriculums after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation last year making financial literacy compulsory for newly admitted high schoolers across the state from the next academic year.
Opposing the Conservative-Leaning Material
Since its approval by the Florida Department of Education for use in a financial course, the book has generated significant backlash, with approximately 60 letters of objection sent to the district.
The campaign against the controversial book is spearheaded by the Florida Freedom to Read Project, a non-profit organization opposed to introducing conservative-leaning material into school libraries.
In the past, the group opposed using academic literature from a popular conservative media group, PragerU, led by radio host Dennis Prager.
Critics blamed the Governor for imposing right-winged ideology on public schools amid the ongoing revamp of public education in Florida.
“I think the overall curriculum adoption process has been infected, especially in Florida,” Florida Freedom to Read Project board member Jessica Wright told NPR. She added that the matter was “hotly political.”
Content Controversies Surrounding the Book
The suitability of Ramsey’s book for teaching finance has been questioned based on three key issues. The primary point of contention centers around omitting crucial mathematical concepts deemed necessary for teaching the course.
Wright, who is also a former Pasco County teacher, told the news outlet that the official county and state reviews regarding the book’s appropriateness found that it lacked these concepts.
However, a district source told NPR that students learn math in a dedicated mathematics class, adding that the opposition had no problem with the book’s content. Instead, the allegations were based on discomfort with the author’s political views.
Others opposed the book based on the Bible verses used as references in the text, deeming it inappropriate for use in a public school setting.
The third concern was based on the author’s blanket opposition to all types of debt, which the objectors considered unrealistic and counterproductive.
“Instructing students to spend all disposable income erasing debt, rather than learning to use it to their advantage appropriately is too severe,” one objector stated. The objector noted that warning students to avoid all forms of debt was misleading.
“Part of our work with this instruction should be to educate students on how to identify good v. bad debt (mortgage v. credit cards, for instance) – not how to avoid it altogether.”
Other critics also said they were uncomfortable with the author’s tendency to blame people for their challenging financial status.
The district is expected to decide on the book’s adoption by the end of October.
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This article has been produced by TPR Teaching. Featured image: Andrew Cline//Shutterstock.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.