SUMMIT, N.J. (CBS 2) — Something’s cooking in some New Jersey classrooms, and it’s left a bitter taste in the mouths of students and parents.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reports, home economics is taking some heat.
Mixing up new recipes and cooking traditional favorites is all part of Summit High School’s family and consumer sciences program.
“I think it’s a lot of fun,” freshman Emily Chicules said. “I took it to further advance my culinary skills.”
“I am happy we have it because it teaches us how to cook – it’s a vital skill,” senior Melanie Reach said.
While the program was thriving in Summit, many other districts across the Garden State were cutting their cooking and sewing classes, which traditionally fell under the umbrella of home economics.
“These are life skills that a lot of the students really aren’t learning at home today,” Summit teacher Robin Hardesty said.
In the South Orange and Maplewood school district, plans were presented to eliminate cooking and sewing classes next year at both middle schools. Home economics classes would be replaced with a computer and technology program that emphasizes finance and Internet use.
Some parents said they support the change.
“Get them ready for the real world,” parent Eric Burt said.
Many students and parents, however, told CBS 2 that they want to keep their home economics classes.
“She taught us to cook some snacks, like quesadillas,” student Zaire Hancock said. “I can take that stuff that I learned home with me.”
“I don’t think it’s fair,” said student Emily Roberts. “I think we already have technology around us – we don’t need more.”
“I think it’s good to keep some down-home, rooted stuff going on,” parent Carrie Compere said.
The Livingston school district agreed, even expanding sewing and cooking classes that teach kids how to create restaurant menus.
“It’s really important, because my mom never emphasized cooking and sewing,” said eighth grader Christina Qiu.
Educators in Livingston and Summit said there’s value in hands-on courses that don’t simply rely on a textbook.
CBS 2 reached out to the South Orange and Maplewood school district, and while they gave information about the new courses, no one was available to speak on-camera.