T.S. Mills-Faraudo of the San Mateo County Times reports on the growing number of high schools without student newspapers. The reasons include:
- • Heightened requirements for both graduating from high school and college admission. Students simply don’t have time in their schedules to take journalism classes and work on the school paper when it only counts as an elective for the University of California entrance requirements.
• The increased focus on standardized testing and additional state and federal demands means schools have to offer more remedial classes. To make room for these classes, electives such as journalism are eliminated.
• Turnover in journalism advisers. For instance, at Oceana High School in Pacifica, the journalism program died after its adviser retired and no one wanted to keep it going.
Mills-Faraudo’s story had some bright spots:
- • Sequoia High School in Redwood City is trying to bring back its student newspaper after three years of no campus news.
• There are still some passionate journalism teachers out there, such as Susan Sutton Callahan at Jefferson High School in Daly City. The curriculum in her class includes the basic construction of a story, conducting interviews, media law and ethics, and the First Amendment. The students also work on the student paper, which gives them an opportunity to write stories and shoot photos.
• Steve O’Donoghue, director of the California Scholastic Journalism Initiative, been meeting with UC officials to convince them to make journalism one of the classes counted toward the English requirements for admission to the universities. “Universities are always complaining about how kids can’t write, and this is a curriculum that requires them to write all the time,” said O’Donoghue, who taught journalism at an Oakland school for 33 years.
High school journalism has also been a focus of the Peninsula Press Club in the past year. In addition to the club’s annual high school contest, it met with high school instructors in March to see how it can help keep student newspapers going.