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Ohio House approves bill requiring capitalism to be taught in high school financial literacy

Licking County classroom in 2019
Dan Konik

A proposal that would require financial literacy courses already mandated in Ohio high schools to include lessons on capitalism has passed the Republican-dominated Ohio House.

The bill tweaks a law passed in 2021 that requires high school students to take a financial literacy course either as an elective or in the place of a half-credit of math. This bill would require principles of capitalism to be taught as part of that course.

Rep. Adam Bird (R-New Richmond) said the bill doesn’t require more time, just additional concepts regarding capitalism to be added into the curriculum.

"There's 10 or 11 curriculum standards that are listed in the bill that should be a part [of the course]," Bird said. “They include 'market prices constantly change based on supply and demand.' It includes entrepreneurship and innovation positively affecting the free market."

Bu Rep. Joe Miller (D-Lorain) said it’s an election year, there’s a teacher shortage, and capitalism is already taught in history and government classes, so this bill isn't needed.

"This bill is one part partisan messaging, one part ideological warfare, and one part a poor fix to a financial literacy bill from the previous General Assembly," Miller said. "If you're just looking for messaging for the upcoming election, here it is: 'if you vote for this bill, you are a capitalist, and if you vote against this bill, you are a socialist.'"

A financial analysis showed the bill wouldn't bring additional costs to the state. But Rep. Sean Brennan (D-Parma), a former teacher who made it clear he is "totally in favor of capitalism," said adding in new standards demands teachers spend hundreds more hours finding new materials and revamping their lesson plans.

"We would never tell the business community in Ohio we're going to pass a law here in this chamber that's going to increase the number of hours your employees have to input, and it's not going to cost you anything," Brennan said. "We all know that time is money. Our teachers time is just as valuable as anybody else's."

The bill also would allow students to take Advanced Placement courses in microeconomics or macroeconomics to fulfill the financial literacy requirement.

"Under current law, Advanced Placement microeconomics and macroeconomics does not count towards satisfaction of the financial literacy requirement," said Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati). "It makes no sense in the world to penalize the most academically rigorous type of curriculum, but by saying it doesn't qualify when in fact it obviously ought to qualify.

SB 17 would also allow for math teachers who don't have a required financial literacy license validation to teach the course.

Four Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for the bill, which passed 64-26. Because of the changes, the bill now goes back to the Senate for its approval.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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