Friday, April 15, 2011

Student Press Law Association calls for Press Freedom Day

The Student Press Law Center has an “open letter” today (Washington Post, p A21) about World Press Freedom Day, link here.  

The piece notes that student journalism is necessary to tell us what is going on in schools; but schools still hold the power to fire teachers for what students write. 

The “op-ed” refers to a 1988 case “Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier(text of Supreme Court opinion) .  The case had dealt with the concept that a public school newspaper might not be intended as a “public forum” intended for the general public to use as a source of school news and potential policy debate.  If a paper were established for largely teaching or “didactic” (as my father used to say!) purposes, speech could well be regulated, by teachers and administrators (who could act against teachers for what students published).  Such papers would have a lower level of First Amendment protection.

SPLC has links to discussions of the case, and to maps showing which states have laws restricting student journalism.

Street Law has a guide to Hazelwood here and you can navigate to the older Tinker case.

Visitors may know that I has my own brush with the issue of teacher free speech (July 27, 2007 here). 

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