CITIZEN JOHN: The Wall Street Journal Isn’t The Only Out-Of-Touch Newspaper

Well, The Wall Street Journal is responding to all those stories about teachers who allegedly take courses in personal finance and subprime mortgage securities while working in inner city public schools. Their response is surprising, if you actually read the story they published last weekend. The Journal concludes by saying: “Concluding that public schools must teach economics doesn’t change the fact that teachers shouldn’t be drilling their students with news and information that include tips on how to borrow money.” The quotes from The Journal to that effect are attributed to a former Senate staffer from Ohio.

In response to the Wall Street Journal article, the Ohio Teachers’ Retirement System has changed its policy to prohibit its employees from learning economics from investment professionals working on its best-performing funds. The Ohio teachers’ pension fund and the Indiana Teacher’s Retirement System have taken these action (which won’t change now that the Journal story came out). These two pension systems do a lot of business with the public schools in their home states. And I happen to believe that these pension systems should have a limit on the number of contributions made to the public schools to ensure that children are served by the schools. But not necessarily through education about home economics and personal finance. They should hire competent investment staff with a fiduciary duty to parents to help children succeed in schools. Otherwise, these pension systems are doing a disservice to children.

The debate over a minimum wage for articling students is a debate that’s an embarrassment to the legal profession. Assisting amateurs with applying law to private issues is the best way we can address the problem. If a firm chooses to incorporate these tasks in an articling class, it should be up to a class moderator to make sure that the teachers are not taking money from the fund to which they plan to invest. At some point, most firms also come to the conclusion that the all-at-once best investment staff is a better investment than a disciplined teaching staff. Even at a smaller firm with fewer lawyers, we should find ways to stop such practice at every level.

John Roberts is the Chief Justice of the United States.

Read more at the Washington Times.

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