Belton opposes high school economics text

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Dave Belton

Dave Belton

By Kathryn Schiliro, Managing Editor

Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) member Dave Belton is opposed to the approval of a proposed textbook, “Krugman’s Economics for AP,” for use in the high school’s Advanced Placement Economics course due to the politics of the writer on whom the book is based, Paul Krugman.

In a rare, non-unanimous vote at the BOE meeting last Monday, Belton opposed a motion to approve a list of Morgan County High School textbooks – there is also an International Baccalaureate Economics textbook and a Latin book on the list – that included the Krugman text.

School board chairman and members Nelson Hale, Erica Veasley and Andrew Ainslie voted for the motion, which did pass.

“The High School recommended a new textbook titled Krugman’s Economics for AP. Unfortunately, Paul Krugman is a self-professed political partisan who writes a regular op-ed in The New York Times titled ‘Conscious of a Liberal.’ While I try to be 100 [percent] supportive of our teachers, I can not in good conscious support this book. Especially troubling is Mr. Krugman’s never-ending narrative that markets should be fair instead of efficient, his blithe assumption that 17 trillion dollars of debt is not a problem, and his irrefutable assertions that the only way to curb pollution is by instituting policies like ‘Cap and Trade,'” Belton wrote in an e-mail to the Citizen.

The book is actually authored by Margaret Ray and David Anderson, but is adapted from Economics, Second Edition by Krugman and Robin Wells.

In addition to being a economics columnist for The New York Times, Krugman is a Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University who’s taught at the likes of Yale, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford. A veteran author and editor of 20 books and 200-plus professional journals, Krugman also won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for “his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity,” according to an article “Krugman wins Nobel Prize for Economics” on the Times‘ website.

Belton believes that economic representations in the book too subjective, not offering both sides of arguments.

“I understand that an author may want to debate these topics in a textbook. But if he does so, he should offer an objective account that highlights each side’s arguments. Mr. Krugman fails to do that, continually creating straw-man arguments that attack – not debate – the opposite view. The philosophy of the author, therefore, is not only relevant but problematic,” he writes.

“Educators have the power to shape the way future generations think. Because of this – and because taxpayer dollars funds these educators – the issue of public trust is of utmost importance,” he continues.

The textbook is available for public comment, and can be viewed at the school system’s Central Office through Sept. 9. Public comment can be directed to school board members or system administration at the central office. The BOE is set to vote on whether to approve the book at their meeting Sept. 9, as well.

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