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New Pausd Beginning Journalism dual enrollment program with Foothills College

Art by: Rachel Lee

To provide additional opportunities for students within the media arts pathway, both Paly and Gun will begin offering dual enrollment Beginning Journalism courses with Foothill College starting in the 2023-24 school year. 

After comparing the PAUSD Beginning Journalism course with the Foothill equivalent, representatives from both schools decided that the classes are similar enough to create dual credit.

Beginning Journalism teacher Brian Wilson said, while the Paly and Gunn Beginning Journalism course curriculum likely won’t change much, the class will be a weighted one in terms of calculating a student’s GPA.

Traditionally, students take Beginning Journalism at Paly during their sophomore year as a prerequisite to joining a publication, but Paly offered alternative pathways to freshmen for the first time this year.

“We’ve introduced this freshman-level Photojournalism and Broadcast Journalism classes, which students can take as an alternate pathway to joining the publications and not have to take Beginning Journalism at all,” Wilson said. 

Wilson said he hopes turning Beginning Journalism into a dual-enrolled course will encourage more students to sign-up and ultimately join a publication in addition to the Photojournalism and Broadcast class.

“We were worried about the Beginning Journalism class when the (Photojournalism) and Broadcast Journalism pathway took off,” Wilson said. “Because those kids will have joined a (publication) by sophomore year, we were worried about numbers. So at least theoretically, the dual enrollment idea will counterbalance that a bit.”

Journalism teacher Paul Kandell, who has been an early supporter of this program said that he is thankful that Foothill college has acknowledged Beginning Journalism’s relatively challenging coursework.

I’m confident that our Beginning Journalism course, which has been the bedrock of the district’s success in journalism for more than two decades, is on par with any introductory college class,” Kandell said. “I’m grateful that Foothill saw the quality and agreed to offer a dual enrolment option.”

As a fellow Paly journalism teacher, Wilson agreed that Paly’s beginning journalism should earn some recognition for its difficulty.

“It’s not an honors level course or an AP, but it’s difficult,” Wilson said. “The dual enrollment will let students get college credit while taking the course which is useful for them.”

Gunn Beginning Journalism teacher Kristy Blackburn said the dual enrollment opportunity also offers the advantage of standardizing journalism education in Paly and Gunn.

“It’s a good way to ensure that students are entering the pathway and getting a good foundation of journalism,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn also said she hopes students will realize how interesting journalism is and how it is different from traditional high school English classes.

“I think students will take the Beginning Journalism course and realize, ‘Oh, this is different than I thought. It’s not English essay writing — it’s actually super interesting and fun,’” Blackburn said.

According to Kandell, Beginning journalism is not only an English elective but one that enriches students in real-world events and skills to thrive in today’s advanced society.

“It’s a fun, challenging class that offers students a fresh perspective on writing and gives them valuable 21st-century skills regardless of their long-term interest in journalism,” Kandell said.

Additionally, Blackburn said she thinks this change will help students discover a new pathway that sets them up for academic success.

“One thing that I appreciate about this (change) is I can market the course more to some students who may not think about taking any of them,” Blackburn said. “For example, kids who are in Focus on Success) or kids who are in AVID.”

Wilson said he hopes the change will ultimately incentivize students with different interests to join the journalism program.

“We’re constantly looking at different pathways and ways in for students who are interested in the programs,” Wilson said. “It gives another opportunity and reason for students to take that class where we might not have had it before.” 


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