Peterson G. Peterson Foundation and Teachers College respond to "Raising young deficit hawks"

Letters to the Editor

February 8, 2011 — I am writing on behalf of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, in response to your article “Raising young deficit hawks.”

Your claim that the Foundation has influenced the content of the “Understanding Financial Responsibility” pilot curriculum developed by Columbia Teachers College is untrue. Our Foundation was approached by Columbia Teachers College in December 2008 with a proposal to create a curriculum about the nation’s fiscal practices and priorities (not, as you report, limited to personal finance).

In issuing this grant, the Foundation gave the College complete discretion and independence to determine the content of the curriculum. The College convened an advisory panel of national experts, commissioned independent research in order to inform the development of the curriculum, and wrote the lessons.

The lessons encourage students to examine a variety of sources and form their own points of view. The Foundation did not design or determine the content of the lessons.

Kara Alaimo
Press Secretary
Peter G. Peterson Foundation

See Editor’s Note below.


February 9, 2011 — I write in response to your 
article “Raising young deficit hawks.”

 The central premise of your 
article is contradicted by four key facts which you do not include or 

First, in developing this curriculum, our goal has been to
 enable students to understand the issues of the federal budget, national 
debt, and budget deficit in all their complexities, clarify their own
 thinking, and ultimately, care enough to become involved in these and 
other public policy questions as citizens. To this end, as they work 
with the curriculum, students are expected to identify and evaluate 
differing points of view on the issues.

Second, the Peter G. Peterson
 Foundation gave Teachers College, Columbia University complete
 discretion and independence to
 determine the content of the curriculum.
 The Foundation did not design or determine the content of the 

Third, the pilot Understanding Fiscal Responsibility 
curriculum has been and will continue to be vetted by an independent 
national advisory board of experts.

Fourth, the curriculum currently 
is undergoing rigorous evaluation by high school social studies 
mathematics teachers across the United States. Their evaluations 
will help to shape the final version of the curriculum, due early 2012.

Anand R. Marri, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Arts & 

Principal Investigator, Understanding Fiscal Responsibility 

Senior Research Affiliate, Institute on Education & the Economy

Teachers College, Columbia University

Editor’s Note (updated Feb. 10, 2011):

Regarding Ms. Alaimo’s letter — our article stated that “It was Teachers College that approached the Peterson Foundation, at first with the idea of a curriculum based on a Peterson-sponsored documentary, ‘IOUSA.’ Originally, the focus was going to be on personal finance. But the Peterson foundation preferred to emphasize public finance.” This accurately set forth the information provided to Remapping Debate by Anand Marri, the assistant professor of Social Studies and Education at Teachers College in charge of the project.

Regarding Professor Marri’s letter — we note that Professor Marri told our reporter that the Peter G. Peterson foundation was among those invited to review the pilot curriculum, and to submit comments and suggestions on it.

Regarding both letters — Especially in light of the charges raised in the letters, Remapping Debate thought it would be useful for us to post the entire pilot curriculum on our site. (The curriculum has been and is continuing to be distributed to high school teachers, who can request a free copy by registering on the project’s website.)

So we asked both Professor Marri and a spokesperson for Teachers College for permission to do so. Professor Marri said that he was not authorized to give us permission, and the Teachers College spokeperson has not responded to our request.

Send a letter to the editor