H.B. 4-403 Life Skills
Is High School missing a bit of life? According to Dakota Williams, from Hinkley High School, it is. This year, Williams has proposed a new bill that plans on adding the spice of life to every high school in Colorado. These metaphorical spices? In the literal sense, they are Life Skills classes, a few examples from the bill being Home Economics and Shop class.
The bill written by Williams supports the trendy topic of life skills classes, which are classes that have been designed to teach students things that they can use in their everyday lives. Examples of these are cooking, shop class, and home economics. This bill would affect, according to https://high-schools.com/directory/co/, 644 high schools (all of the high schools in Colorado.) Williams believes that without this bill, upcoming graduates and future generations would lack the proper knowledge behind such necessary daily tasks (like changing a tire or balancing a checkbook), and would face difficulties that could have been avoided had they learned it before they were on their own as new adults.
The bill is titled, “An Act to: Require Life Skills Classes in Colorado High Schools as a Graduation Requirement,” and as the title relays, it is focused on not only bringing these classes back into the classroom setting, but making it a requirement for graduation for all high school students. The bill has received both positive and negative feedback in sessions, leading to a mixed feeling on the matter.
The bill itself at first glance seems to be a benefit to everyone involved, but heavy doubts still remained regarding the actual application of the bill, and the availability of resources and staff to provide the proposed mandated law. Under this law, students would be required to take a full year’s worth of these classes to earn their diploma. Representatives were alarmed at this amount, and had concerns regarding the time available between required credits to accomplish these extra credits while still having a couple fun credits. There were also questions regarding where the money would come from to afford all of the new buildings and equipment that would be needed.
The biggest concern within the room however, was the recent and drastic decline in teachers through the last couple of decades, and whether newly trained teachers would be available to every school, and if that many people were willing to go through training so as to insure that each school had the proper amount of teachers to supply students with those life skills classes.
When interviewed about these pressing concerns, Williams was very open to answering the questions and providing more background information about the classes. Williams admitted to being inspired to write the bill, after seeing his own life skills classes be shut down at his school, after the school decided it was not beneficial to continue those classes. Williams firmly believes that life skills classes are necessary to develop skills that will help young adults flourish in a new and sometimes unforgiving world. He has seen many new adults have difficulties with basic tasks, like cooking, which in his words, “Will let them be their own person…it opens their world to more possibilities.” When asked about the decline in teachers, he had this to say, “We haven’t tapped into the teachers that are able to teach these classes…those teachers that have gone to degrees in say like culinary arts, or just economics in general. We are more focused on our basic skills in English, and Math, and Science.”
I then went on to ask him about the actual implementation of the bill, in regards to giving schools necessary rooms for teaching theses skills, like shops for the shop class. In his answer, he brought up the idea that schools could figure out travel to places that provide such resources, like neighboring schools or shops for shop class. For cooking, Williams provided the idea that students could learn to cook in soup kitchens, and use their new skills to help feed those in need. He stressed the importance of these changes to be a community effort. Each community, “would be case by case,” as each school and surrounding its surrounding areas has different problems. He then defended his choice of $40,000 minimum for new teachers in this program, as he believed it would provide them enough to live their lives, while giving students necessary classes, but believed salaries could go case by case. After the interview, I researched the average annual pay for teachers in Colorado, and according to http://www.teachingdegree.org/colorado/salary/, the annual salary for high school teachers is $51,540 a year. Williams also proposed to use bond measures, which would not be taxed, as opposed to property taxes, which have continued to raise every year.
Overall, he remains hopeful that his bill will be passed in this year’s Youth in Government session, where his bill is being presented in Senate Room 4, where all education bills are being analyzed and discussed. Williams hopes that his fellow students see the importance of these classes, and that they recognize that losing one credit for something that can help you in the future is a small price to pay. His main wish is that after the implementation of his passed bill, students will say, “Wow, I’m glad I took that class!” At this time, the status of the bill is undetermined, and is still waiting to be voted on by the Representatives in the Education bills room.
Author: Rose Ponce
Photographer: Cenon Caramanzana