You can't make this stuff up: A fourth-grade teacher in Houston, who gives her students a daily economics lesson by letting them operate mock businesses and earn fake money and taxing them appropriately, recently made the daily lesson about AIG.
First she tore into AIG to make a point to the students. Their reaction, apparently, was predictable: They fumed at what they believed AIG execs had gotten away with.
But then the teacher, Rebecca Chapman, changed directions and asked her students to think about how they'd feel if they were AIG employees who didn't make the bad decisions but remained at the company to fix those decisions. She even asked them to think about how bad they'd feel if they were asked to give back millions in bonus money they felt they'd earned, and if their families had received death threats.
So the students, not yet being jaded about life, proposed that they write and send letters of support to AIG employees.
The current head of AIG's financial products unit - the unit blamed for much of the company's alleged shady dealings - said the cards and letters are hanging up on bulletin boards at the company and that they've made the AIG folk weepy and sentimental and what not.
Not sure what I think of this. The smartass in me wants to say something like "When I have kids one day, this is why they're attending private school!"
But that's too easy. Besides, when I have kids and they're old enough to attend school I probably won't be able to afford a private education 'cause it'll probably cost as much as college.
I commend the teacher for her daily economics lessons. That's awesome. And if just a few of her students remember those lessons, maybe they'll know how to balance books and prioritize spending and saving before they even graduate high school.
Maybe I'm crazy though, but for a hot-button issue like AIG's bonuses, I almost feel like academic opinion on that should be left to these kids' parents/legal guardians.
I'm not saying Wall Street bonus "education" is equivalent to parents debating over whether they or the schools should teach sex ed. But do you get the "sensitive" subject issue?
Think about it. Maybe I'm the parent of one of those kids. Maybe I'm pretty well versed in economic issues. Maybe it's my opinion that all the AIG bonus recipients - whether they were top decision makers or not - are the recipients of ill-gotten gains. Maybe that's the opinion I'm preaching to my family. So maybe I don't want my kid being groomed to be sympathetic to Wall Street bonus-getters at failed companies that are only surviving on tax dollars.
Maybe you think that sort of speculation is goofy. Maybe. But I'm the Devil's advocate here. And I'll put money on it: as this story plays out that teacher, for all her good intentions, is going to run into a few disgruntled parents.