Kelly Short graduated from Salem High School in 1986, an outstanding English student and an excellent editor of The Cub. She went on to study journalism at Indiana University and she has been the newspaper and yearbook teacher and adviser at Jeffersonville High School, Jeffersonville, Indiana for a number of years. In her teaching career, she has coached her students to many journalism awards. She was one of my superior “language arts” students, writing extremely well and able to play with language using bright, literary skill. Of course, her editing skills: spelling, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, etc., were superb.
This principal’s disgusting power grab is so “corporate America.” Control, control, control. He is teaching the wrong lesson to students. When I was a young teacher, our beloved SHS journalism adviser, Bernice Anderson, used to edit every word and comma the students wrote before the paper was published. That was back in the days of typesetting & printing with real ink on a real printing press. But—-what did the students learn about writing and editing: someone else would do the hard editing work for you. Times have changed and the strategies of teaching journalism have changed, too. Student mistakes are part of the learning process.
Teaching journalism is difficult and teaching it well is really difficult. Good support from the administration and the public is vital. Students must be allowed to make mistakes—and to rise from the humiliation of the mistake by learning to correct their mistakes themselves. Jeering, ridicule, and humiliation are not good teaching/learning tactics–or good human behavior. Teaching young journalists to be fair and honest in their writing, to select topics of importance to the public and to freedom in general, to examine fraud, dishonesty, hypocrisy, and self-serving is vital, too. Good reporting, good topic selection, good writing, good editing—all these are part of the teaching/learning process, which people who believe in freedom and democracy must support. Of course, teens always want to push the limit in topics and in opinions. On those issues they must be challenged and taught to think responsibly and to learn to handle the freedom and power of the press responsibly. An oppressive principal demanding total control of student publications is just a lesson in dictatorship and is not an example of freedom or democracy.