A financial literacy project in a Texas city has been hit with a lawsuit after an elementary school teacher told her students to “think like a banker” and that it was necessary to “pay your bills like a bank.”
The suit was filed by the Texas Association of Independent School Districts, the local parent group, and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) against the school district and its principal, Michelle Williams.
The complaint, filed last month, says the teachers “did not have sufficient training and were not aware of the requirements of state and federal laws governing the operation of public schools.”
Williams allegedly instructed the students to read books such as The Power Broker and the New York Times bestseller, The Art of War, which were about financial management.
The teacher also said it was important to know how much money the district was making.
“The purpose of the book is to give you an idea of what the money is going to cost in the future,” the complaint says.
“To be clear, this is not about the books, but about the book itself.”
The complaint adds that “in the classroom, the teacher’s instructions were intended to be instructive rather than to be coercive.”
Williams, who has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the lawsuit, told The Dallas Morning News that she “had absolutely no knowledge of the legal requirements governing the use of a textbook to guide students’ learning.”
In a statement to Ars, TEA spokesperson Michael J. Loomis said, “The district is aware of this lawsuit and has taken appropriate steps to address it.”
Loomi did not say whether the district would be seeking any legal action against Williams.
“We are in the process of responding to the complaint and we will do everything we can to defend our efforts to provide our students with the necessary training and support,” he said.