An open letter to the NCAA Clearinghouse

How dare you?

How dare you say that Journalism is not a “real” English class?  How dare you say that my curriculum is not rigorous?  What do you know about the day to day challenges of the student journalist? What do you know about how hard they work to report and write stories?  What do you know about publishing a newspaper or a magazine?

I don’t tell you how to coach, to play, or to run your organization.  I don’t even begin to imagine the complexities of your work.  How can you imagine the complexities of ours?

I’m tired today because I was up until after midnight commenting on and editing student writing.  They are writing again tonight, draft two of the same story – crafting, thinking, writing.  I guess I shouldn’t put forth so much effort or ask my students to work as hard as I do because clearly the work we do is lightweight and should be easy, right?  So how come it’s so hard to do well?

Come teach my class.  I dare you.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul C. says:

    Hi Kate,

    I was an adviser to our student news magazine for over ten years. Hard to lead students through the process when it’s a voluntary club, but we produced a fine paper, six times a year.

    I would have enjoyed teaching a journalism class for credit.

    Totally agree with what you are saying. Journalism is writing with a purpose, a motivation for great writing.

    Something like blogging?

  2. Kate Tabor says:

    Thanks, Paul –
    Today was equally frustrating. We appealed to the NCAA twice and were rejected on both appeals. They believe that Journalism is not “college prepatory” curriculum and that it is vocational writing.

    Now they need to approve my Memoir and Autobiography class as “college prepatory.” They want my book list and syllabus and want to know how many papers we write and what kind of papers they are. My book list includes authors as diverse as Joan Didion, Ben Franklin, Barack Obama, Frederick Douglass, Harvey Pekar, David Sedaris, Lawrence Ferlingetti, Sylvia Plath, Aldo Leopold and Thoreau.

    I am also the adviser to the school newspaper (10 issues), the yearbook (300 pages), technical advisor to the literary magazine (2-4 issues), and sponsor to independent studies in magazine journalism and newspaper publishing. I know all of this is not personal, but it sure feels like it today.

    I appreciate your support, and yes, it is wonderful to have the time and space to teach journalism and to produce our own class on-line ‘paper’ and a 30 page full color magazine. I’m lucky.

  3. Mike Mahany says:

    I wish that an NCAA representative could sit in on your class one afternoon and witness the intensity and the variety of the learning going on. I know what your students are getting from you – I teach right next door and witness it first hand every day. I can’t answer for the NCAA’s short-sighted decision, of course, but we both know that it’s a wrongheaded one. Thanks for all your contributions here, Kate.

  4. Kate Tabor says:

    Thanks, Mike – and I know that the kids get a lot out of it, (or they get out of it what they put into it). So, gradeheads unite! And yes, clearly the creative thinkers of the world don’t work for the NCAA Clearinghouse. I have been wrestling with this external vs. internal approbation for a while now.

    “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!” — Al Franken as Stuart Smalley

    Update: They approved my Memoir and Autobiography course. Jalapeño!

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