Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The Burning Question
"Is the material being regularly published in The Squall/Rostrum appropriate for students?"
Journalism teachers want to fight for free speech and freedom of the press.
Administrators want to stay balanced between "cool" and "firm"--to protect the rights of the outspoken and also those of the general student population.
But the U.S. Supreme Court has already explicitly set the standard for student press. And we must all set our prejudices aside and abide by the law. Here is what they say:
"A public high school newspaper, written and edited by students in a journalism class, is not a forum for public expression, and school officials are accordingly entitled to regulate the contents of such a newspaper in any reasonable manner..." and "the fact that students are permitted to exercise some authority over the contents of the newspaper, consistent with the curriculum guide's objective of teaching the journalism students leadership responsibilities as editors, does not imply a decision to relinquish school control over the newspaper."
The court then specifically found it to be reasonable for the principal to remove an article with "frank" talk regarding teenage sexual activity from the school newspaper given that it's a school-sponsored publication and is distributed to students as young as 14 years old. Hazelwood, 484 US at 274-75. Hazelwood also says that "a school must also retain the authority to refuse to sponsor student speech that might reasonably be perceived to advocate drug or alcohol use ...."
Please read the past issues and decide for yourself. (The Squall) If you feel that the paper is advocating/ advertising drugs or alcohol or being too "frank" regarding teenage sexual activity, or telling the students where they can go to find these things* please feel free to comment here or use the links to email the board of education and tell them how you feel.
*Any of these would be contrary to the standards of either federal law or the school bylaws.