Journalism lives on while politicians talk

Regina Budden

I had 40 people in my graduating class. The closest we came to having a journalism class was a class where we alternately decorated the trophy cases and put together a monthly excuse for an online newsletter.

Three years later, I’m holding my own with people who have been involved with journalism since junior high. Yet, I am still concerned by the Kansas State Department of Education’s decision to cut funding for high school journalism.

I understand it won’t kill students to be stripped of that elective as a privilege in high school. However, I am still concerned about what that means for the well being of all high school electives.

With American teens’ academic achievements sinking in comparison to other countries’, it is understandable that many states may want to refocus on the basic areas of education, such as English, math, science and social studies. What is most troubling is the idea that it won’t be across the board.

It is pretty evident that arts are the first things to go when budget cuts rear their ugly head.

For years, the marching bands, art classes, theater troupes and debate teams have held bake sales and car washes to stay afloat.

I’ve never seen football players going door-to-door selling cookie dough. Yes, sports can help build teamwork, but try to visit the Review on deadline night, and tell us we don’t have to work just as much as a team as any defensive line.

Not everyone can play in the NFL or NBA, and sometimes I think it is the lack of exposure to enough electives that has added to the amount of college students that switch majors more times than they have shoes. I always thought that high school electives keep students engaged so they are motivated to continue in some career path.

It seems this recent decision says instead that electives are nothing more than a way to entertain high school students until they can be moved through the system, and journalism is a waste of time.

Journalism didn’t make the cut because the state doesn’t think the market has much potential for job growth. “Journalism didn’t meet the high demand material,” according to Kathy Toelkes, a spokeswoman for the Kansas State Education Department.

I disagree. Guess what skill almost every graduate school and career prizes over any other? The ability to write clearly, concisely and accurately. With GO Topeka, Think Big Topeka, Visit Topeka, Downtown Topeka and the many other renewal projects that are bringing Topeka back to life, the events are coordinated, promoted and sustained by media personnel.

People have been outraged at the idea of losing talented students from serving in the “fourth estate,” a watchdog of the government.

The involvement of the media holds our government together in that without informed citizens, the entire spirit of democracy is unattainable. Therefore, an educated, experienced class of journalists is directly necessary to the correct formation of a functional and successful society.

But I am glad the football team got new uniforms. Again.