Credit Cards in Grade 9 & Lessons from Tax Frauds? All Part of The PCs & NDP’s Flawed Financial Curriculum
By Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, and Liberal candidate for MLA St. Boniface
Manitoba has serious problems in education: too many students have low test scores in reading, writing and math, and our dropout rate is too high.
As a father of four children in the public school system, I have first-hand experience with the problems in the math curriculum that was introduced by the NDP, which saw scores in Manitoba plummet.
The Pallister Government promised that they would improve reading and math in Manitoba, but have failed to come up with a plan.
Instead, the PCs recently re-announced a “financial literacy” program; first adopted by the previous NDP government.
Do you think that it’s a good idea to teach a 14-year-old how to take out a credit card?
How about using lessons for students in grade 9 and 10 written by a convicted criminal who has been sentenced multiple times for fraud and tax evasion?
Those are just two of many highly problematic lessons in an “economics” curriculum for students from elementary to high school.
The course - which was praised by the Minister of Education Ian Wishart and Kelvin Goerzen, Minister of Health, recommends that students read a comic book on how the economy works by Irwin A. Schiff called “How an Economy Grows and Why It Doesn’t.”
Schiff’s ideas are radical and wrong. To get an idea of just how off-base Schiff ideas are, he was convicted many times of fraud and tax evasion, including a final sentence to 13 years in Fort Worth Penitentiary, Texas.
The course asks 14- and 15-year-olds to use these materials to assess whether various political parties’ policies will be good for the economy. You probably don’t want your kids taking Schiff’s advice.
The materials also include a video that claimed that cellphones and the Internet happened because of globalization. That is flat wrong.
No matter what your political stripe, you should be concerned that children in Manitoba’s public schools are being fed such inaccurate information. It’s even worse that students are being asked to use bad information to evaluate political parties. That’s bad for education and bad for democracy.
I had the pleasure of teaching a course in Government-Business Relations at the University of Winnipeg. Many were business students. I knew it was important for them to understand there are different points of view about the best way to grow the economy - and that even experts disagree.
These "financial literacy" programs sound good in principle - but they have also been criticized because they are being used as a way of teaching students in Junior High School to apply for how to apply for credit cards and car loans.
In Canada, the amount of debt has steadily been climbing for decades. Too many families are at the breaking point with record high household debt. Canadian households owe more than $2.3-trillion, which is more than the entire Canadian economy for a year.
The private debt that is weighing down households is one of the biggest threats to our economy. People are spending huge amounts on interest, leaving little for other expenses, choking off growth in the economy and leaving families unable to cover their costs.
It’s bad enough that our schools aren’t delivering on fundamentals, like reading and math. When it gets to more advanced topics, like politics and economics, we need to teach critical thinking.
It is clear that on education the NDP and PCs haven’t done their homework. Manitoba students deserve better.
By - Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, and Liberal candidate for MLA St. Boniface
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