TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Northeast Kansas kids are tackling education reform, while learning important skills that will make them better students, employees and even citizens.

A recent debate tournament at Topeka West High School highlighted the benefits of speech, debate and forensic classes.

Students spend weeks researching the year’s debate resolution. This year, the topic is about education funding and regulation.

Students debate both the sides of the resolution in tournaments around the state where they pick up valuable skills.

“It (debate) helps me understand a lot about what my leaders of the country are doing,” said Topeka High School student Cooper Hochard. “It gives me a better idea about how politics work and how different things in the government work.”

Topeka West High School debate/forensics coach and language arts teacher Matt Baer said students also learn valuable skills in research, organization, critical thinking and public speaking.

“There are tons of portable skills when it comes to debate,” said Baer. “At some point, everybody has to make an argument for something and those are the skills that we work on in this class.”

There are multiple styles including two-person team policy debates and one-on-one Lincoln-Douglas style debate with all being helpful in building important life skills.

Much like athletics, rules for debate competitions in Kansas are governed by the Kansas State High Schools Activities Association