KSDE killing high school journalism


By the way, if you click on this picture, you can read another story about high school journalism being attacked (via thenewstribune.com).

In high school, one of the most prolific ways students can begin to learn the wonderful craft of journalism is to participate in the production of the yearbook.

Yearbooks have been in school since there were schools. They are the historical record of the year for any given school, yet they are in danger.

According to an article on LJWorld.com, the Kansas Department of Education “in 2012 will eliminate career and tech education funding for journalism classes (also broadcast and printing classes).”

This is outrageous! These geniuses at the KSDE are trying to fix their own mistakes of mismanaging money by depriving aspiring journalists of their futures!

Sure, schools could continue to provide such classes if the money was there, but since every district is facing a financial crunch, not getting CTE funding could be the trigger to drop the guillotine on journalism programs.

So how does KSDE rationalize cutting this funding? Here’s what the article had to say:

“According to KSDE, journalism funding has been cut because they don’t see journalism as a viable career. In short, the way the state sees it journalism courses do not meet new standards of preparing students for ‘high demand,’ ‘high skill,’ and ‘high wage’ careers.

While these standards seem laudable, in actuality (the way the terms have been defined) the bar has not been set very high for two of the three criteria and too high for the other.

‘High skill’ has been defined in Kansas as any occupation that requires advanced certification or higher education beyond high school. Journalism meets this requirement. ‘High wage,’ while sounding like a high standard, is actually defined as 200% of the federal poverty level or approximately $20,000 or $13.75/ hour. Journalism meets this requirement as well.

The rub comes in how KSDE has chosen to define ‘high demand.’ ‘High demand’ in Kansas is an occupation projected to grow more than 14%. In a down economy many Kansans would be happy to see their occupations not lose ground. In New York state, ‘high demand’ is defined as any occupation that is projected to add more workers than those needed to replace current workers.”

Now do you want to know the real kicker? I bet you do. Here it is, from the article:

“Paradoxically some occupations with less than 14% projected growth will remain funded by KSDE because of their strong connections to Kansas culture (farming) or their integral role they play in other occupations (photography and education).”

What!? I understand farming is important, but journalism provides a lot more technical skills that can be used in a wider variety of careers and settings than farming does. Just look at this paragraph from the article:

“When it comes to trying to save money, it would seem that journalism is an efficient way to expose and train students in more than eight future occupations. When we are talking about spending our Kansas CTE dollars better, eliminating these courses is short-sighted and shows a disregard for the current challenges districts face in preparing students for a 21st Century workforce. Kansas high school journalism alumni have found employment in all of the following careers, but that does not seem to matter to KSDE. • Writers & Authors (15% growth) • Broadcast & Sound Techs (8% growth) • Audio & Video Techs (13% growth) • Photographers (12% growth) • Public Relations (24% growth) • Technical Writers (18% growth) • Graphic Designers (13% growth) • Advertising Sales Agents (7% growth) *according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics”

How many of those jobs listed would be directly benefited by farming classes? Not any. Now how many of them would be directly benefited by a journalism course? All of them!

A journalism classroom isn’t just about dead trees and writing. Nowadays, journalism teachers such as myself, teacher writing, design, photography, video production, audio editing, website coding and so much more.

Journalism students learn to communicate, collaborate and think critically to solve problems. How is this not valuable to the KSDE?

It should be. Granted, my school doesn’t get CTE funding and we still have a journalism program of a newspaper and yearbook, but with the way the budgets are, it isn’t out of the question to ponder if the journalism program here will be around forever.

CTE funding could help keep it going, but the KSDE doesn’t think so.

If you’re reading this, I urge you to contact your representative (listed below) and begin fighting this. Express your thoughts and opinions about this. It has to be stopped for the good of journalism in Kansas. If we can’t cultivate our journalists through high school, the harvest following college graduation will be sparse.

Kansas Board of Education Members

Janet Waugh
State Board District 1
(913) 620-5062 (c)
JWaugh1052@aol.com

Sue Storm
State Board District 2
(913) 642-3121(h)
sstorm717@aol.com

John Bacon
State Board District 3
(913) 660-0392 (h)
jwmsbacon@aol.com

Carolyn Wims-Campbell
State Board District 4
(785) 266-3798 (h)
campbell4kansasboe@verizon.net

Sally Cauble
State Board District 5
(620) 624-6677 (h)
SCauble@swko.net

Kathy Martin State Board District 6 (785) 463-5463 (h) martinkathy@yahoo.com

Kenneth Willard State Board District 7 (620) 669-0498 (home) kwillard@cox.net

Dr. Walt Chappell State Board District 8 (316) 838-7900(w) chappellhq@chappell4ksboe.com

Jana Shaver State Board District 9 (620) 331-1452 (home) jshaver@cableone.net

David Dennis State Board District 10 (316) 650-0152 (c) dtdennis@swbell.net

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