DENVER – Durango High School senior Logan Graham believes people underestimate the interest young people have in the legislative process.
He joined with other members of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council, or COYAC, on Monday at the state Capitol to outline legislative priorities.
“Students and youth care more about these issues than a lot of people realize, and I think a lot of youth are a little disappointed in how polarized politics has become,” Graham said.
In addition to addressing issues around water supply, public safety and mental health, the students were in a unique position to comment on testing standards.
The Legislature just last week introduced a measure that aims to ease requirements. But the issue is plagued by partisan talk over federal Common Core standards, including PARCC testing.
Students, however, were able to take politics out of the subject, instead viewing the issue through the lens of simply being a student trying to navigate the winding maze of assessments in the state.
COYAC students presented policy recommendations directly to lawmakers.
Several lawmakers were interested in how testing has changed since the implementation of PARCC. Students tried to steer the conversation back to overall assessment requirements.
In addition to the testing issue, students also suggested that lawmakers should attach a “future note” to water bills. The concept is similar to a fiscal note, which looks at the long-term financial impact of legislation on the state. A “future note” would look at the long-term impact of water legislation on the state.
On the subject of public safety and mental health, students recommended that lawmakers develop an online suicide-prevention chat service. Because rural students are not always able to make it to a face-to-face meeting with a counselor, having an online chat system could be beneficial, they said.
Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, who established COYAC through legislation in 2008, said it is critical to hear the needs of Colorado’s future leaders.
“We believe deeply in the importance of getting young people involved in the issues and policies that affect our state,” she said.