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Parents are the keys to saving J-programs

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On Aug. 27th, I talked about the learning that is lost when J-programs are cancelled.  But how do we save them or get them reinstated?   Parents are the key.   Administrators and school board members may not pay attention to teachers whose programs are threatened, but they certainly pay attention to parents.   Parents of students in threatened programs and parents of former students need to emphasize to administrators and board members how much their students learned.   They need to make it clear that the learning on a publications staff is unique and helps student succeed in college and beyond.

Even if a current program isn’t threatened for now, it still needs parental support.  Administrators certainly get negative phone calls when some one in the community doesn’t like a topic covered in a school publication, so positive messages can offset the bad and create a positive image for the programs.

I realize it is too late to save programs cancelled for Fall Semester, but reinstatement of programs takes time so parents need to make their displeasure well known.   If they don’t want to phone, every school district administrator has an e-mail address these days.  How long does it take to send an e-mail to administrators and board members?   If they all get 20 or 30 e-mails, they are bound to pay some attention.  These parents are the voters in their district.

Some advisers have set up formal parent groups that not only support the program when it is threatened, but provide other support even down to goodies on layout nights.   Even after their children graduate, parents in Vince DeMiero’s group stay active.  He is adviser at Mt. Lake Terrace High School in Washington state and current president of WJEA.   Think about organizing your parents.   Their support could be crucial when your program is under fire either about an issue or even its existence.

Testimonials from former students are also great.   They are voters as well and can tell administrators how working on a publication while they were in high school helped them in college and beyond no matter what career path they chose.

Teachers need to fight to keep J-programs alive, but they don’t have to do it alone.  Work to alert your supporters and then keep the administration and school board informed about their support.   Stress that learning is what schools should be about and J-programs provide unique learning opportunities.

Fern Valentine, MJE

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