Practical arts credit should not be necessary for CPS students


The second hour A-day Personal Finance class awaits class to begin.

Grace Dorsey

In order to graduate, the Missouri graduation handbook states that every high school student in Missouri must complete one credit of “practical arts.” While personal finance fulfills half of that requirement, students often still need to deliberately incorporate some random semester-long course.
For the pupils of Columbia Public School (CPS), many of these offerings come in the form of Career Center and online classes.
Unfortunately, though plenty of classes are marked as practical, some simply don’t live up to the distinction. This especially pertains to online classes, some of which are redundant for a generation that has grown up with the internet. Newsflash! Teens don’t need a lesson on digital literacy from a 45-year-old instructor.
Admittedly, taking online courses is pretty easy. Still, I would prefer not wasting time on tedious projects just for a meaningless, irrelevant bureaucratic checkmark.
What’s more, classes that are actually practical are not available to count as such. For instance, journalism, which is about as practical as one can get, recently lost its power to count as a PA, despite many documents proving otherwise. Kinesiology, which the district considers a science, has a curriculum that actually prepares students to sit for the personal trainer exam.
How more practical can a class be above offering a job license? The classification of some classes as “practical” seems biased against regular and academic classes.
“Practical arts courses are those in which students learn to integrate academic . . . with career and technical education knowledge and skills, and to apply them,” according to Missouri’s graduation handbook. The truth is, this description could fit plenty of classes. Most courses are built around encouraging the development of real-life skills like teamwork, timeliness and analytical thinking.
Improving one’s essay writing or discussing the ethics of genetic engineering can provide plenty of valuable experience. Framing one’s high school education to be strictly academic is just as valid as one that focuses more on technical lessons. Furthermore, many of the classes focus on a few, very specific careers.
Not everyone wants to go into fabric construction or marketing. Writers, artists and musicians are already getting exposure to knowledge in their language arts, English and fine arts classes.
Moving forward, CPS should reconsider which classes can count toward practical arts. Students shouldn’t have to feel limited in their schedule. Although this requirement is to supposedly ensure a well-rounded high school experience, the reality is just an unfair system that ends up misusing students’ time and energy.