Take journalism off the chopping block

As a result of the $3.6 million budget cut from last school year, our journalism program was cut. Fortunately, the Lowell Alumni Association (LAA) and Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) donated $900,000 to fund elective courses, including two journalism classes. This was a temporary solution that has allowed The Lowell to continue to produce content through print, online, and social media outlets. Without elective funding from the city or state, electives are overlooked, and schools are in danger of losing the abundant benefits that these classes provide. 

Classes like journalism are unique in creating student experiences that cannot be taught in conventional classes at Lowell. City and state governments need to create policies to fund elective programs to ensure students have access to these educational opportunities.  

On Nov. 8, 2022, California citizens voted on state propositions, one of which was Prop. 28, which guarantees arts and music education for K-12 public schools. Prop. 28 overwhelmingly passed with over 64 percent of voters in support of it. However, this proposition excluded elective courses that don’t fall under the visual performing art (VPA) category, including journalism.

Some electives may be brought back at Lowell due to Prop. 28, while several will not, due to not being categorized as an art or music class. Although Lowell’s architecture and photography course has been cut for the 2022-2023 school year, these visual performing art (VPA) classes have the possibility of being revived due to Prop. 28. Unlike these VPA classes, the Yearbook class was cut and will not receive benefits from Prop. 28, with Yearbook teacher Christian Ferrey stating that he doesn’t know if there will be a Yearbook class for the 2023-2024 school year. While journalism received benefits from the PTSA and LAA temporarily, it also is not supported by Prop. 28 to secure funding for the coming years. 

City and state governments need to create policies to fund elective programs to ensure students have access to these educational opportunities.

Journalism is one of the electives at Lowell that provides unique benefits, like being entirely student-run. Our classroom is essentially a newsroom, with frequent meetings and brainstorming sessions. We have a photo backdrop, and desks set up in a way that is like no other at Lowell. Instead of lectures or lessons, we have discussions, one-on-one work time to edit articles, photo-essay critiques, and suggestions for spread designs being yelled across the room. When something occurs that requires breaking news coverage, reporters are leaving class to rush to the event. Photographers are immediately taking and editing photos, editors are coaching reporters through interviewing on the spot, and other staff members listen to recordings and transcribe interviews word-for-word. With every protest, walk-out, and admin decision being different, experience is gained to foster new skills. As a staff, we’ve found that you don’t need conventional classroom style teaching in order to learn. 

As of now, we can still produce the newsmagazine you are holding because of the generosity of the LAA and PTSA. But it is not feasible for the LAA and PTSA to give $900,000 every year to support programs like journalism, making the future of our publication uncertain. Students cannot be deprived of the opportunities journalism classes bring to education, making it imperative that SFUSD officials, as well as city and state elected officials, create policies that will fund more electives