Why Journalism should be a 21st Century Careers and Skills Elective


The 2019-2020 Journalism class. These members play a crucial and integral role in the success of the Glen Echo by always showing eagerness to learn more about being better journalists.

Electives labeled as 21st Century Careers and Skills, like Financial Literacy and Broadcast Media, are classes that enable students to make informed decisions that prepare them to engage as active citizens in a dynamic 21st-century global society. Though the administration does a keen and adequate job in providing students with a different assortment of 21st Century Careers and Skills courses, they have removed an important course for that category that is often taken under misconception, Journalism. 

Currently, Journalism is an Academic Elective which means students who take the class do not receive any credits necessary to graduate. Originally, the class was considered a 21st Century Careers and Skills Elective, along with other English Electives, up until 2017 when the administration deemed it no longer a class that fulfills the requirements to meet that category. 

The Department of Education of New Jersey enacted Standard 9 in all public and private high schools to ensure that students are aware and prepared for the challenges that lie in adult life. Substandard, 9.2, labeled Career Awareness, Exploration, and Preparation, this standard outlines the importance of being knowledgeable about one’s interests and talents, and being well informed about post secondary and career options, career planning, and career requirements. 

Jason Toncic, teacher of Journalism and adviser for The Glen Echo Newspaper since 2012, advocated that Journalism is a 21st Century Skill due to the qualities that make up his class and the lessons that he teaches. 

“Journalism should be considered a 21st Century skill. It should not have been removed in the first place and it should be reinstated because students are taking this course who want to become journalists, that is a career.”  said Toncic. “They’re learning a lot. They’re practicing as journalists, and they should get credit for it.”

According to Toncic, Journalism was originally made a 21st Century Careers and Skills Elective up until 2017 when the Glen Rock Administration Department made it an Academic Elective. The Glen Rock Administration deemed the class unable to fulfill the requirements as a 21st Century Careers and Skills Elective. The administration forgets that Journalism is already a career, nonetheless a 21st Century Skill. It fulfills the requirements, including all sub-standard that make up Standard 9, it should be giving students readiness credit in order to graduate. It is already a 21st Century Careers and Skills Elective is many other high schools in Bergen County including Ridgewood High School, Fair Lawn High School, and Pascack Valley High School. 

Bill Rawson, Journalism Adviser at Pascack Valley and President of the Garden State Scholastic Press Association (GSSPA), constantly advocates for student journalists to be treated fairly and seen as respected professionals in the eyes of the school’s administration.

“Journalism is always going to be a 21st Century Skill and it’s always going to be a 21st Century Career. The way students collaborate with people over interviews and use their creative side to format how they’re going to display information is evidence to show that Journalism is not a lost art.” said Rawson. “Journalism impacts everyone in this 21st Century world therefore, it should be accounted for in every single school system, including Glen Rock.”

The Glen Echo staff has worked assiduously and diligently for many years in trying to promote the online school newspaper, The Glen Echo Newspaper, by publishing articles on a weekly basis informing Glen Rock students and residents on information about current and long-term news about the town. The students in the Journalism class put in many hours throughout their high school life to both advertise and perfect the school’s newspaper, despite not receiving any graduate credit for doing so.

“They’re already acting like career professionals,” Toncic said. “To say that they are not preparing for a career when they are already doing things that are more powerful and influential than many other electives could possibly do is short-changing.”

As a current student in Glen Rock High School, I undergo the yearly dilemma of picking and choosing the electives for my schedule in the following year. I’m always advised to select classes in the 21st Century Careers and Skills category as I am constantly told they will benefit me more in the future then the Academic Electives. But I love Journalism, and I am not alone in this situation. Many students also love Journalism and aspire to be journalists as their careers yet have to also experience the stress of fulfilling the requirements for graduation. 

Last year, despite the circumstances of getting no credit for the class, the Glen Echo managed to receive a gold medal for the 6th year in a row from the Columbia Press Association, and receive its highest cumulative score ever: 952/1000 points, and get invited to attend the Garden State Scholastic Press Association’s Press Day at Rutgers University. If all of this was accomplished by our staff members who received no credit for taking the class, just imagine what could get done if we actually did receive credit for taking the class. 

“All I know, and there is tangible proof, is that their newspaper is one of the greatest and most accomplished in the state,” said Rawson.