Moffat County Work and Life Skills program has potential, but needs elbow grease to make it reality.
Editor's Note: Craig Daily Press Publisher Bryce Jacobson excused himself from this editorial board discussion because he is a coalition member.
For many students, reading, writing and math aren't enough.
Editorial board members believe high school students need to learn how to balance a checkbook, count back change and, in some cases, care for their personal hygiene, before being jettisoned from school into the workplace.
The board applauds the Moffat County Work and Life Skills Coalition for looking to teach these and other skills to high school students in a program beginning next month.
As required by the grant funding the coalition, the program also must attempt to prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancy among class attendants.
The board believes social and economic aspects of this course are necessary for Moffat County students. Still, this program's success, like that of many other well-meaning projects, isn't guaranteed.
It's going to take quality instructors and planning to make it work in the long run.
In regard to the social aspect, board members acknowledged that there are many ways to teach about marriage and sex. One board member was in favor of telling students about all the options available for preventing unwanted pregnancy, including birth control. Others agreed, adding that sex education shouldn't be limited to abstinence-only education.
On the other hand, board members acknowledged that parents could take a different view.
In any case, many resources are available to steer students away from unwed pregnancies, and the board believes the coalition should examine all of them.
As concerns the program's work skills education, board members agreed the program success relies on one element: instructors.
Many projects like the Work and Life Skills program are commendable in theory but, for various reasons, fail when put into practice.
The coalition's success largely depends on who steps up to teach classes on work force skills.
The coalition should invite community members and local business personnel to teach program classes. Bringing in speakers close to students' age to talk about their experiences - good and bad - concerning the work force and pregnancy should be another option.
Regardless of who's chosen to teach those classes, students' input should be an integral part of the program. The editorial board commends the coalition for recently asking high school students what benchmarks program students should meet to earn a laptop - the top incentive.
The editorial board gives equal praise to these students for saying program participants should have 100 percent participation to earn the prize.
That's the kind of attitude more workers in this community need: no excuses, no "what-ifs."
Yet, even if all students in the program participate fully, the editorial board foresees a possible future hang-up.
What happens to students when they leave the program?
Instead of just cutting participants free, the program should give students options to build on what they've learned in the program. Giving students a chance to enter Distributive Education Clubs of America, a high school marketing and business program, is one option.
Placing students in a job placement program is another.
The coalition and the community also need to think about the future, as well.
If the Work and Life Skills Program proves successful, steps should be taken to make it sustainable.
But even if the program as a whole isn't successful, the coalition should evaluate what parts of the course did work and draft plans to implement those components in another way.
As a whole, the editorial board sees that this program has potential.
The next task: turning potential into reality.