Roots and wings
All Virginia parents and grandparents of graduating high school seniors have an additional reason to celebrate and feel especially proud this year. Virginia’s 2015 high school graduates are the first class required to complete the one-credit course in personal finance and economic literacy in order to receive their diplomas.
We owe our elected officials a debt of gratitude for their making personal finance and economic literacy a priority as the law in Virginia. I am proud of the role the Virginia Society of CPAs played in supporting this effort.
This financial literacy initiative, launched more than a decade ago, means that our young adults are able to use basic skills to understand the economic impact of their choices in spending, saving and investing. They can apply budgeting techniques, compare costs and benefits to purchasing decisions, evaluate discretionary spending alternatives and balance their bank accounts.
These basic financial skills will enable our children and grandchildren to be well prepared to impact their personal financial futures by setting realistic and measureable financial goals for each major life event — college, marriage, the purchase of a home, raising a family and planning for retirement.
Journalist W. Hodding Carter said, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.” A solid foundation in passing along financial literacy to our children accomplishes both of these.
I remember the excitement I felt as a child when my parents took me to the local community bank to open my first savings account. I felt special and important at 6 years old. At 16, I received a small box that contained two keys — one to the front door of my house and the other to the car. Both of these experiences demonstrated my parents’ strong desire to give me deep roots and strong wings. I will always be grateful.
The Virginia Department of Education sent out a press release on June 1 that reported 38 Virginia high schools made it to the nation’s personal finance Top-100 list according to Working in Support of Education (W!se), a New York-based nonprofit group that promotes financial literacy education. Of those, nine Virginia high schools ranked in the top 30 schools in the nation. The announcement was made at the New York Stock Exchange during a ceremony in April of this year
The press release included the following comments, “The Class of 2015 is the first to have the advantage of earning a diploma that required them to successfully complete and pass a course in economics and personal finance,” Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “Here in Virginia, and with support of the business and financial organizations, including the Virginia Council on Economic Education, we value economic literacy as an indicator of college and career readiness.”
We pass many things on to our children through our own actions and experiences. Our children are watching us. Let’s continue to make financial literacy a part of the legacy we share to give them roots and wings to face life choices with confidence and grace.
Elsie L. Rose, CPA, CGMA, is a past chair of the Virginia Society of CPAs. She participates regularly as a presenter of financial literacy topics through the VSCPA. She is a Business Development Officer at Union Bank & Trust.