The recent decision by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the state Board of Education to diminish high school history in lieu of financial literacy is a misguided attempt to correct economic problems created by national and academic leaders.
Thursday the two agencies responsible for establishing the curriculum for the state’s public schools announced that a semester of financial literacy is to be added to the 2020-21 curriculum, and to make room for this new course, one semester of history will be eliminated.
The state is correct in its concern about the need for financial literacy but there is no justification to shortchange the history component of high school education, which is more valuable in the current political and social environment.
In fact, based on the activities in the digital arena with great quantities of misinformation about our country and world history circulating in both the social and mainstream media, there is a greater need for a more focused effort to educate America’s youth than ever before. As the Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke stated, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
A quick review of the curriculum found on the DPI website shows a course of study that on its surface goes beyond just simple financial literacy and seems to include elements to promote outcomes such as “analyze the relationship between education, income, career and desired lifestyle” or “identify the costs of postsecondary education and potential increase in income from a career choice.”
Could these course goals be focused on postsecondary education as an invitation to promote more student debt?
Currently student debt amounts to almost $1.5 trillion (greater than all aggregated credit card debt nationally). It is this debt that has stymied the economic future of the country by burdening many with onerous student debt, which by federal law cannot be excused.
There are 18 standards or goals established for this curriculum. Some topics such as “Understand factors of economic interdependence and their impact on nations” can easily be made part of a broader history course. There are others that could be incorporated into basic math classes.
To shortchange the need to understand our history is to diminish the opportunities in the generations to come. To again quote Edmund Burke “People will not look forward to posterity who do not look backward to their ancestors.”
The effort to promote financial literacy in our schools, while commendable, should first be focused at our national leaders and then shared in our schools.
Considering our national debt of $23 trillion (amounting to $70,000 per U.S. citizen) and growing, perhaps a course in financial literacy should be aimed at those responsible for this disgrace. And then an additional standard or goal should be added - a component on financial morality.
The DPI and state Board of Education are asking for citizen input which will be accepted through January at the DPI website https://bit.ly/35wLYM8.