Adviser Update Adviser Update Fall 2017 - Page 28

Are odds stacked against middle school journalism? JUNIOR HIGH PROGRAMS LEARN TO ADAPT, SUCCEED IN CHANGING SCHOLASTIC JOURNALISM LANDSCAPE By Mike Malcom-Bjorklund T he adage says, numbers don’t lie — but could numbers ignore an important truth? • Strong middle school scholastic journalism programs equal strong high school programs. In theory, it sounds simple. But why is the former much harder to achieve than the latter? To answer this question, we must address the key factors hindering this from happening. • FUNDING It isn’t that building a journalism program at the most primary of levels requires taking out a loan on the school. It’s just that many schools don’t have much to give providing the current state of finances in many local counties and states. • STAFFING: Again, money often rules the roost here. We must also consider whether there are enough well-trained journalism educators equipped to start a journalism program and • prepare students for the next level. SCHEDULING: In addition to staffing this position, there are only so many elective spots available. Now, think STEM. You know, the theory that classes in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, are the keys to global dominance. Although there may be some merit in this, because of STEM, schools ditched an important component of a child’s education – the A. Thankfully, recent trends are shifting again on the arts and putting the STEAM in STEM. INTEREST: If scheduling a journalism elective isn’t an issue, there must be a desire by both the administration and student body to initiate one. The media profession has taken a hit over the past few years and maybe there’s not as much interest as there was when many of us were growing up. Sure, the odds might look stacked against inclusion of journalism at