Constitution Day lesson plan highlights North Dakota's new student press rights protections

In 1952, Congress directed every public school to set aside time on Sept. 17 – Constitution Day – to teach young people about constitutional values and principles. This year's Constitution Day is extra-special in North Dakota, because it marks the first time young people will have meaningful free-speech rights, thanks to the John Wall New Voices of North Dakota Act.

The nation's newest student press-rights statute is also one of its most comprehensive, protecting student journalists from censorship at the college and K-12 levels -- protection that extends to independent journalistic work as well as work in school-sponsored media -- as well as outlawing retaliation against journalism advisers for what their students write.


Photo credit: Kim Davies via Flickr, CC 2.0

To mark this advance toward giving students the actual benefit of the Constitution that they're expected to study and learn, the SPLC has created a Constitution Day lesson plan about the New Voices Act that is designed for use in North Dakota schools but could be adapted for use elsewhere (especially in a state with comparable statutory protection for student journalists -- consult this map if you're not sure about your own state).

Download a free copy of the Constitution Day lesson plan, including teacher notes and discussion questions, here.

Tagged: Constitution Day, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, New Voices Act, North Dakota, recent-news