Students take to Facebook to protest I-Tech cuts

In today’s world, Facebook has become ubiquitous in the world of teenagers as they log on daily to communicate with their friends, organize events, and effectively stalk both friends and strangers. But another purpose for Facebook has arisen in the face of impending budget cuts in the Ames Community School District: people coming together to protest cuts. One such example of a group is “Save Mr. Jahn.” The Industrial Technology department has had a rough history with budget cuts; three years ago, I-Tech had three full time teachers, but as budget cuts took their toll, this number has been pared down to 2.25. As the budget for next year began to take shape, it appeared as though I-Tech would take yet another hit of .75, which would lead to the elimination of teacher Kent Jahn. After learning of Mr. Jahn’s possible elimination, teacher Craig Boylan encouraged his students to take action. “I said, ‘If you feel strongly about what Mr. Jahn has done for you, then take the time to message the school board,’” Boylan said. “The reason I didn’t want to lose Mr. Jahn is because seldom do you find a teacher with the combination of both technical skills and compassion for students. He’s one of the top CADD instructors in the state and we couldn’t replace him.” Sophomore Jacob Rogers became particularly interested in helping out. “[Mr. Jahn is] probably one of the best teachers,” Rogers said. “He doesn’t just throw things up on the board and say, ‘This is how you do it; now do it.’” Rogers, along with sophomores Graeme Dodge and Cole Stephan took the next step by creating the Facebook group. "Mr. Boylan was talking about how I-Tech has taken huge cuts in the last 3 years," Stephan said. "We created ["Save Mr. Jahn"] to create awareness and get students to e-mail the school board." The membership of the group grew quickly; over 100 people joined on the first day of the group’s creation, and at the time of this article, 517 people were members of the group. The group’s creators attributed the group’s success to the effectiveness of social networking sites. "A lot of people invite their friends on Facebook," Rogers said. "[Social networking sites] are really useful because they spread the message really quickly." Members of the group e-mailed the school board, hoping for a positive response. Board member Paul Sodders sent the group a response, encouraging the students’ actions, but telling them that "nothing is a done deal yet" and that "no cuts are final". However, at the time of this article, I-Tech may be safe from the cuts for this coming year. Whether the group had any impact is uncertain. Despite the unpredictability with next year’s budget, Boylan was pleased with the students’ effort. "Mr. Boylan said, ‘Thanks for doing it,’" Stephan said. Boylan praised the students not only for their effort, but for applying what the skills they had learned from their classes in I-Tech. "It’s great. This is exactly what we talk about in class – students getting involved and using real-life applications to solve problems," Boylan said. "We’ve got to keep current with going on, and you’ve got to stay involved. I always tell my students, ‘Anybody can tell you what the problem is. It takes someone smart to find a solution.’"