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MC Weekly

April 30, 2014

RAY MOSCOWITZ: Local control on weighted classes is a real plus

A basic journalism course ought to be required of students

Despite the battles over education in Indiana, a decision made recently will significantly benefit high school students.

The Indiana Department of Education will now allow local control in granting credits for honors diplomas. Previously, State Board of Education approval was needed.

The decision gladdens me, because journalism students, among others, will benefit greatly.

The IDOE’s decision comes in the wake of a situation involving IU freshman Samantha Strong, according to Karen T. Braeckel, director of the Hoosier State Press Association.

Braeckel wrote in The Indiana Publisher about local boards now having the ability to weight journalism in a student’s academic standing.

That was not the case, Braeckel reports, when Strong chose journalism over an honors class. That decision may have cost Strong the rank of valedictorian, Braeckle added.

In an article for the Indiana High School Press Association, Strong wrote:

“While the [Advanced Placement] program is great in terms of encouraging students to challenge themselves in the classroom and take more advanced courses, it is not great for subjects such as the arts and journalism.”

I know of at least one situation in Miami County where a student who was in contention to be valedictorian faced the same problem as Strong. The student wanted to take a class that was not weighted.

Strong wrote in her article:

“Many students neglect such courses because they are not weighted and would bring down their GPAs, making students less competitive when it comes to class ranking.”

In years past, I have suggested to a few school superintendents a basic journalism course ought to be required of high school students.

The superintendents demurred, citing a lack of resources and time. There was some legitimacy in their points, but not enough to convince me. Yes, there are essential course requirements that consume time, but I believe the curriculum can be structured to include journalism.

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