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Kansas Pulls Funds From High School Journalism

State Education Officials Say They Want Curriculum to Reflect Future Job Market

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Kansas journalism teachers are worried that changes in the way the state finances high school programs could spell the end for student newspapers and yearbooks.

At issue is the state education department’s decision to modify what qualifies for vocational education funds. High school newspaper and yearbook programs currently are allowed a share of that money. Last school year, it amounted to about $700,000 of the $30.6 million distributed.

But the funding for salaries, training, and equipment is likely to vanish in the 2012-13 school year, when traditional journalism courses are woven into other classes with broader content, such as digital media, information technology, and Web-based communications.

That has teachers worried, especially for smaller districts with limited resources, said Jill Chittum, the president-elect of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association’s board of directors.

Kathy Toelkes, a spokeswoman for the Kansas education department, said the journalism-course changes, approved by the state board this year, are part of an effort to revise Kansas’ curriculum so it reflects the future job market for students. While traditional journalism courses would no longer meet the criteria for state funding, districts still could receive funds if they have more expansive curricula.

Ms. Chittum believes that most journalism courses expose students to skills they will need in today’s world through Web-based publications and social media. Moving yearbook and newspaper projects to other courses would complicate the process, she said, and many of those publications would disappear.

Vol. 30, Issue 04, Page 5

Published in Print: September 22, 2010, as Kansas Pulls Funds From High School Journalism
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