What now for J-Schools?

It was a sobering moment.

The new director of the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, David D. Perlmutter, last December distributed a chart to members of his school’s professional advisory board. It showed that applicants to the school were so flat this past year that practically anybody who applied was approved for admission to the two-year undergraduate program. It begged the question many people in the field are asking, to wit, what’s a journalism school to do?

Schools, schmools. Who needs ’em, anyway?

Jack and Jill went up the hill. Jack got robbed. Jill got jobbed.

Shortchanged J & J

It isn’t the classic nursery rhyme but it is what students may learn this year as school budgets across the country are gutted.

From Oshkosh, Wis. to Puyallup, Wash., schools will suffer the axe this year as districts and states continue to grapple with big budget holes due to the recession.

The Oshkosh School District, for example, is debating the closure of middle and elementary schools, larger classes and culling around 35 positions, according to WLUK-TV in Green Bay.

Oshkosh’s problems arose after Wisconsin ended the fiscal year with a $2.71 budget gap. Varying by state and district, schools are usually funded by a combination of local, state and federal money.

Thousands of miles away, the Puyallup School District faces a 21 percent budget cut that could result in layoffs, larger classes and a possible school closing, according The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash.

For the Twitterati, Literature Lives Online

News of the written word’s demise has been greatly exaggerated — though it may not turn up as often on your parents’ printed paper pages. Literature is being tailored to fit the dimensions of technology — making works great (and not-so-great) available on computers, cell phones and mobile devices, using text messages, Twitter, RSS feeds and installments delivered via e-mail. In the United States, new technologies and diverse media are being used to teach literacy. Ohio University students are looking at how video gaming can to teach basic reading and writing skills, reports the Chilliocothe Gazette, while an article in the Poughkeepsie Journal adds graphic novels and comic books to the list of teaching tools. But most of the electronic focus is still on high-end consumers with their array of mobile tools, reports Computerworld Magazine.

Banks Take Aim at Student Loan Plan

Opposition is emerging to President Barack Obama’s plan to take private banks out of the student loan business. Student indebtedness has grown to an average of nearly $23,000 per individual, and student loans remain a lucrative business for U.S. banks, earning $85 billion annually, according to news reports. The White House plan would cut out the middleman and let students borrow directly from the government, with the hope of making more money available for loans, while saving an estimated $94 billion over the next decade. Citigroup has already begun an e-mail campaign urging its borrowers to write Congress to oppose the plan, notes Talking Points Memo. And executives for Sallie Mae, the biggest provider of student loans, said if the plan is adopted as proposed, an undetermined number of banking jobs could be lost.