Credit scores, copays and … capitalism? Ohio lawmakers want high school students to learn about the values of a free market during their financial literacy courses.
The Ohio House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 17 in a 64-26 vote Wednesday. The proposal would require high school students to learn about 10 principles of capitalism during classes that teach students about money management, paying taxes and other financial skills.
Sen. Steve Wilson, R-Maineville, championed the change, saying the free-market economic system “is the bedrock of this great equalizer and I believe we need to teach that to our students.”
Opponents worry that the lessons cram more into an already packed course, which was designed by experts in the personal finance field. The financial literacy class can be taken as an elective or as a substitute for a half unit of mathematics.
“This bill is one part partisan message, one part ideological warfare and one part a poor fix” to Ohio’s financial literacy class requirement, said Rep. Joe Miller, D-Lorain, a former social studies teacher who instructed students on the principles of capitalism. He worried opponents of the bill would be labeled socialists in future campaigns.
Rep. Sean Brennan, D-Parma, said he’s “totally in favor of capitalism” but worries there’s not enough time to teach the concept in addition to 27 other principles of financial literacy. “What are the kids really going to learn when you can’t go in-depth?”
But Rep. Adam Bird, R-New Richmond, said the new lessons are an important addition to the curriculum: “This is something that our students need.”
Others expressed concerns that the proposed bill offers an overly simplistic understanding of capitalism.
“The bill’s reductive talking points about capitalism fail to address its complications, adverse impacts, inherent inequities, or the historical and modern exploitation and enslavement of adults and children used to fuel the free-market engine,” testified Cynthia Peeples, director of Honesty for Ohio Education.
The bill also allows students who complete Advanced Placement macroeconomics or microeconomics to opt out of the financial literacy course. Opponents of that change worry the option leaves those students unprepared for managing their personal and family finances.
The Ohio Senate must sign off on changes before the bill heads to Gov. Mike DeWine.
Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio House passes bill to add capitalism to financial literacy class