The proposal to remove fashion education from the Omaha Public Schools curriculum is still on the table following the school board meeting two weeks ago. After the proposal was presented, nearly all school board members spoke about their concerns over removing the fashion classes from the curriculum. It sounds like all of the letters our fashion fans sent them were read and thoughtfully considered! However, we aren't out of the woods yet. Tonight there is another board meeting, which means we have another opportunity to share why this issue is so important. It won't be up for vote for a few more weeks. OFW will be there along with OPS fashion teachers to offer additional information about why fashion education should NOT be removed from the curriculum.
The key takeaway from the last meeting was the need for more information about job opportunities in fashion. This became glaringly obvious after a presenter said she did a "quick search" of job postings in fashion within Nebraska and found none. Well, the OFW team did its own "quick search" today and here is what we found:
We have several large retailers headquartered in the Midwest: The Buckle (Kearney, NE); Cabela's (Sidney, NE); Gordman's (Omaha, NE); Von Maur (Des Moines, IA); Target (Minneapolis, MN); BonTon (Milwaukee, WI). Here are their job postings:
- The Buckle: http://corporate.buckle.com/careers/apply-now/store/0
- Cabela's: http://cabelas.jobs/careers/?jobs_country=us&jobs_location=65&keyword=keyword&employee=no&search_qs=Search&pg=1
- Gordman's: https://sjobs.brassring.com/TGWebHost/searchresults.aspx?SID=%5E1KwmD9EaDVlmuyTEjlcM69Lhz6MuREfV63TCJPOCdVqymGMEpFVcUlESWYEFWbx_slp_rhc_
- Von Maur: http://careers.bonton.com/?utm_campaign=corp
- Target: http://jobs.target.com/search/Nebraska?utm_source=corporate.target.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=corporate
- BonTon: http://careers.bonton.com/?utm_campaign=corp
We need to broaden our perspective of what "working in fashion" is exactly. We LOVE our fashion designers, but this industry involves MUCH more than designing and producing garments. It incorporates business, marketing, merchandizing, product development, forecasting, technology, content creation (photography, videography, writing/blogging), modeling, styling, public relations, advertising, graphic design, hair styling, makeup artistry and so many other things. You will see this variety reflected in the job postings above. In fact, here's the full document of research the team pulled together today - it includes salary data as well.
It's easy for us to think of fashion classes as an experience where we learn to cut fabric, sew stitches and press pretty things. Maybe even learn a thing or two about modeling and self confidence, heaven forbid. But those experiences are actually the first step in a student's journey into a billion dollar industry that has thousands of well paying jobs right here in our state. If we don't prepare our students in high school for these careers, they will have fewer opportunities than their peers in other markets.
Fashion education isn't an unpopular subject at OPS...there are roughly 1,000 students enrolled in these classes right now. It would be foolish, and sad, to throw the hopes and dreams of these students away because of misinformation about what opportunities are available to them in this industry. Let's hope the school board agrees!