Public Schools

An evangelical finance guru’s simplistic advice on money is invading Florida’s public schools

  Rob Boston

In Florida, Christian Nationalists, aided and abetted by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) are making a big push to force far-right material into public schools – sometimes in places where you wouldn’t expect it.

A good example is Pasco County, where school district officials have approved a book by evangelical finance guru Dave Ramsey for financial literacy courses, even though a review committee gave the book a thumbs down.

Under a new law, Florida public schools are required to teach financial literacy. That’s not a bad thing. Young people need to learn the basics of things like bank accounts, credit, budgeting and so on.

Bible passages and bad advice

Ramsey’s book had some issues, though. For one, it’s studded with Bible passages. Critics say its advice is simplistic and out of touch with the real world.

Ramey’s big idea is that debt is bad. And sure, there is some truth to that. Americans probably do carry too much consumer debt. But it does not follow that all debt is bad. For example, buying a house is generally considered to be a good investment, but unless you’re in the Elon Musk income bracket, you probably can’t afford to pay cash for one. Most people take out a mortgage, which is a form of debt.

Or consider a car. If you don’t have one, you might have a hard time getting to your job and generating income. Most Americans finance cars. If you buy within your means, is that such a bad thing?

Book panned by reviewers

WUSF radio in Tampa Bay reported that the reviews of the Ramsey book “show many concerns about the Ramsey materials falling short on teaching more complex math, failing to include a range of perspectives from other economic sources, and a lack of diversity in the materials.”

In Pasco County, one reviewer said of the book, its “rigor is below high school scope.” Another suggested that the book may not align with the goals of the financial literacy course.

Nevertheless, the book was approved for use by state officials, and Pasco officials are slated to spend about $600,000 to buy copies.

Jessica Wright, a former teacher in Pasco County and now a board member with the Florida Freedom to Read Project, put it succinctly: “I think the overall curriculum adoption process has been infected, especially in Florida,” she said. “It’s become hotly political.”

Exactly – and Florida’s kids are suffering because DeSantis and his team are more concerned with pushing Christian Nationalist ideology than educating the state’s children.

Parents in other parts of the country need to take note. Don’t let Florida’s disastrous model undermine public education in your state.

Can't make it to D.C for SRF?

Join us at the Summit for Religious Freedom virtually!

If you can’t make it to the nation’s capital for the Summit for Religious Freedom, you can still participate in an impressive virtual program of live, curated sessions from the comfort of your home, local coffee shop or anywhere with an internet connection.

Find out more and register today!