The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Fiscal Responsibility 101

Beginning this fall, the State of Virginia will require all high school students to take a course in personal finance.

The General Assembly recently voted to require every public high school student to pass a personal finance class before being eligible for graduation.

The above article goes on to discuss how local-to-Charlottesville schools are debating over 1) whether the government should mandate such a class, and 2) how it can be taught when, apparently, there was no funding in the state budget for it.

I’ll get to those…but first, an additional perspective.

In the school systems I’m most familiar with-Norfolk’s and Richmond’s-there are a fair number of kids whose parents are…kids. Many of them don’t know the ins and outs of personal finance themselves, because it wasn’t taught to them before they had their children (another drawback of teenage/young adult pregnancy). For others who might know even a little bit, working two-plus jobs and the responsibilities of parenthood (just taking care of the basic stuff) leave very little time for a sit-down discussion on why and how to balance a checkbook.

For better or for worse, the “parenting” of these children takes place when they go to school. The only time they may even hear about financial responsibility is from a teacher. So if it takes the state’s intervention to ensure that we’re not bringing up a(nother?) generation of kids who don’t know that credit cards do eventually have to be paid off, I’m okay with that. Someone needs to do it, and I’m not prepared to write off children just because their parents don’t know better.

In fact, let’s get the parents into a class too. If a teacher knows that one of their students has a young parent (especially a young single parent, be that parent male or female), I don’t see anything wrong with the teacher saying “hey, you may be interested in this, and here’s some places where you can get the same stuff we’re teaching your kid(s).”

Now, how to get this class taught without 1) overstressing already-stressed teachers and 2) not having the money to pay for it. Back in 2009, I said the following:

Republicans [should] be on the front lines in educating those in urban communities on the importance of fiscal responsibility. People will better understand our opposition to excessive government spending if they are awakened to the effects of fiscal irresponsibility in their own lives. Virginia’s urban conservative platform could dedicate resources-through individuals, churches and other non-profit organizations-to educate urban residents on the importance of sound fiscal policy in their own lives.

That still holds true…because the real way we’re going to end the era of trillion dollar deficits isn’t through massive government cuts that last as long as the next administration, but through having citizens who know from their early adult years that since they can’t run their households like that, the government can’t either. So-since we hold ourselves as the “party of fiscal responsibility,” it’s time for Republican-minded (and now, Tea Party-minded) teachers to come out of the proverbial closet, and teach some of these classes. For those who aren’t teachers, offer to come into a school and speak on how to properly manage finances if you’ve got a few hours to spare.

The earlier fiscal responsibility is taught, the better off we’ll be as individuals, taxpayers, and a nation.

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Written by Coby Dillard

May 8, 2011 at 9:00 am

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