Editorial: Newspapers in education

Mike Leake, the president of our local bank, Union First Market, is a product of the Rappahannock County Public Schools system. He never forgets where he came from. Whenever given the opportunity, he supports the local schools. Most recently, for example, he has supplied complimentary copies of this newspaper to all the students, both in elementary and high school, who have achieved honor role.

He could be called a “poster child” for Newspapers In Education (NIE), an international educational effort that helps teachers and parents use the very latest textbook – their local newspaper – to instruct young people about the world around them, fuel their desire to learn about many topics and encourage a love of reading.

Next week, the first full school week in March, has been designated “Newspaper in Education Week,” first introduced around the country in 2002.

Papers like the Rappahannock News remain one of the most remarkable, multifaceted and effective educational resources available to teachers, according to the NIE. Whether in their print, e-edition or Web versions, newspapers expose students to an ever-widening range of subjects and give teachers fresh resources for teaching both core and enrichment topics. Teachers can engage students with contemporary informational texts that not only bring academics to life but also deepen learning by grounding it in real-world experiences.

Take, for example, the recent discussion in the Rappahannock News op-ed pages about whether the government, which subsidizes school meal programs, should also have a say in the nutrient value of these programs. It is one thing to read the pontifications of adults with ideological axes to grind, but what of the students themselves? Are they debating this issue; and if so, what are their unique (“in the trenches”) insights?

We older readers of the Rappahannock News could profit from such an education. No one is ever too old to learn.

Walter Nicklin