Little things mean a lot at the Newseum

Indianapolis Star column
by Warren Watson

J-Ideas Director Warren Watson blogs regularly for the Indianapolis Star. Here are his latest offerings:

Landmark First Amendment Research
with School Principals launched at Ball State

Ball State’s First Amendment institute has launched a landmark research project with 5,000 high school principals nationwide.

J-Ideas, a 5-year-old effort to support student journalism and First Amendment awareness, is reaching out to 5,000 principals to gauge their knowledge level and support for the First Amendment of the Constitution. The research coincides with Sunshine Week, a national effort to support Freedom of Information, an important principle of the First Amendment. <more>

-Campus free-speech thrives

-Ignoramcer in Palin, Dowd free-speech remarks

-Plainfield pays respect to First Amendment

-Banned Books Week


-Author creates First Amendment 'primer'

-New President must revive Constitution

-Traditional news misses Edwards escapade

-Protesters' rights fenced off

-Social networking pitfalls

-Bad year for traditional news gatherers

-Baseball and the First Amendment

-Principals and the First Amendment

-Remembering a crusader

-Photo ID law bad for voters

-Thoughts from the annual U.S. editors convention

-Need for print journalism remains

-Sunshine:now more than ever

-Mean-spirited fans

-Peter Jennings' legacy

-The First Amendment at the Alamo

-A New museum for news

-Author creates First Amendment 'primer'

-Unlikely First Amendment hero

-Harrison represented Hoosiers proudly

-Online course wraps for the fall

-Religious freedom for all

-Reading is FUN-damental

-Nothing negative

-Blogs grow in influence, but beware of anonymity

-Parent rides the bench after blog posting

-Student journalist's actions serves profession poorly

-Examining free speech online

-Remembering the courageous Elijah Parish Lovejoy

-First Amendment protects unpopular speech, too

Student journalists scoop professional press
By Gerry Appel

In an era where student journalists are often criticized for poor decision-making, one student newspaper should receive praise after scooping its professional counterparts. <more>

-Principal wrong in pulling paper

Mile high with the First Amendment...
By Randy Swikle

We were north of the Mile High City near the Rocky Mountains. The principals were voluntarily descending—not from the tall peaks but from their position abutting the summit of school hierarchy. When they reached level ground, we could see each other more clearly. And clear sight leads to insight. <more




Home > What's New

A Teaching Moment

A Teaching Moment

February 16, 2009

This just in: Casual sex is the hallmark of modern teenage relationships. "Going steady" is out; "hooking up" is in. You can read all about it in Stevenson High School's student newspaper, the Statesman--if you can find one.

The Statesman's Jan. 30 issue described the changing nature of dating encounters, explored the role of teen drinking and sex games, explained chemical reactions in the brains of males vs. females, and on and on and on and on. From a student journalist's perspective, it was a great topic, guaranteed to resonate with teen readers and even grab the attention of their parents.

When the 3,400 free papers flew off the racks overnight, school officials insisted they must have been snapped up by students and parents. They're sticking to that story, even as they institute new policies to increase oversight of the paper. Starting with the next edition, the communication arts program director will review the stories after they've been approved by journalism adviser Barbara Thill.

Read the full article at

High School Journalism Classes Threatened

Posted, October 20, 2008 High School Journalism Classes Threatened in Florida By Anne Anderson

"If people understood how much work goes into the newspaper, they would appreciate it so much more," Marly Jackman said.

Jackman isn't an editor at a local daily. Jackman, a high school senior, is editor-in-chief of Hillsborough (Tampa) High School's award-winning The Red & Black.

The paper, established in 1899 as Florida's first high school newspaper, serves about 2,200 students and teachers.

Two years ago, HHS administrators pulled an article linking race with standardized test scores. The paper had already been printed, so the staff scissored the article out of the more than 2,000 copies.


Penn. student unable to wear anti-terrorist shirt

Penn. student loses bid to wear "terrorist hunting permit" T-shirt

© 2008 Student Press Law Center

October 10, 2008

PENNSYLVANIA -- A U.S. District Court judge partially sided on Sept. 30 in favor of a student's First Amendment lawsuit against his school district for wearing a T-shirt with an image of a gun and a "terrorist hunting permit."

Judge James K. Gardner ruled in favor of Donald Miller's claim against the Penn Manor School District in Lancaster, Pa. that parts of the district's policies regarding student dress and expression were “unconstitutionally overbroad and vague." But Gardner decided against Miller's key argument that banned him from wearing the T-shirt, which Miller's attorneys, described as a show of support for U.S. troops currently in Iraq.

Read full story at the Student Press Law Center webpage.

Group releases top 25 censored stories for '09

Project censored has released its annual list of the top 25 censored stories.

Read more at the Project Censored Web site.

Cigarettes banned in San Francisco pharmacies

Publish date: Sep 15, 2008
By: Fred Gebhart

San Francisco has become the first city in the United States to ban the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in pharmacies. The sales ban, which takes effect Oct. 1, passed by an 8-3 vote of the city's Board of Supervisors in late July.
"A pharmacy should be a place you go to get better, not a place you go to get cancer," a spokesman for San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, who sponsored the ordinance, said. The citywide ban is modeled on similar legislation that bans pharmacy sales of tobacco products in most Canadian provinces.

Read more at the Modern Medicine website.

Student apologized to after dress-code punishment

© 2008 Student Press Law Center

September 24, 2008

CALIFORNIA -- Administrators of a Dos Palos high school are apologizing for a dress code violation mishap that occurred Sept. 16 after a student was forced to remove his American flag T-shirt.
Brian Walker, superintendent of the Dos Palos - Oro Loma Joint Unified School District, said Dos Palos High School student Jake Shelly was punished for wearing a tie-dyed American flag T-shirt with the words "United States of America, Washington, D.C." on it.

Shelly was participating in the school's hippie dress-up day during its homecoming week.

Read more at the Student Press Law Center webpage

Celebrate Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982.

The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups--or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore the latest problems to classic and beloved works of American literature.


Video games "cultivate teen civic engagement"?

Major New Study Shatters Stereotypes About Teens and Video Games

Game playing is universal, diverse, often involves social interaction, and can cultivate teen civic engagement

CBS News report on the Pew study's findings
September 16, 2008
Digital Media & Learning, Press Releases

(Washington, DC) -- The first national survey of its kind finds that virtually all American teens play computer, console, or cell phone games and that the gaming experience is rich and varied, with a significant amount of social interaction and potential for civic engagement. The survey was conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a project of the Pew Research Center, and was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

Read the full story at the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation website.

Constitution Day Advice

Constitution Day is today!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

By Jean Hayworth

Today is Constitution Day which should act as a reminder to all citizens of the rights expressed in the Constitution.

American public schools are required to teach students the rights and responsibilities under the United States Constitution. However, in a recent survey by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, it was revealed that only 0.1 percent of Americans could name the five rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.

Everyone should be alarmed with that statistic and because of that survey, Cathy Travis wrote a book on the Constitution directed at kids, "Constitution Translated for Kids." She untangles the Constitutions' complicated wording by offering the original text of the Constitution and Bill of Rights with a side-by-side fifth-grade level version in facing columns.

Read the full story at Breckenridge American Online.

Educators promote Freedom of Speech

Educators foster talks on freedom of speech By Michael Miller

Robert Kobzi's students are learning two things simultaneously in their fifth-grade classroom at Arroyo Elementary School: parts of speech, and freedom of speech.

Kobzi, who teaches mostly English-learner students at the school in Pomona, leads his class through a unit in constitutional law every year. When he gave a presentation Saturday in UCI's educational conference on the 1st Amendment, he pinned some samples of his students' work on the classroom wall -- including a poster from three girls who wrote, "It's important to know our purposes because if we didn't know them the governor would take advantage of us."

Read the full story at

GOP denies press access to youth media

Draw names from a hat.

That's how three of Y-Press' nine members will get inside tonight's Republican National Convention, despite being denied official credentials to this week's event.

Today, the Indianapolis-based youth media group obtained guest passes from "8-18 Media," a similar organization based in Marquette, Mich.


Cali passes bill protecting student-paper advisors

August 5, 2008

California Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Student-Newspaper Advisers

California's legislature approved a bill Tuesday that would make it illegal to dismiss, transfer, or discipline student-newspaper advisers who are trying to protect the free-speech rights of their students, according to the Associated Press.

Read more at the Chronicle of Higher Education

Colleges have athletes monitor social networks

Schools creating new rules for social networking policies

By Kyle Oppenhuizen, USA TODAY

More college athletic departments are developing or publicizing online social networking policies for student athletes, experts say.

USA TODAY researched social networking policies for 27 schools in six major conferences, including the University of Iowa, which will implement a new monitoring policy Friday. Last fall, pictures emerged on Facebook of two 19-year old Hawkeye football players holding cash and liquor bottles.

For more information visit the USA Today website.

Calif. advisor protection bill passes Assembly

Assembly Approves Bill to Protect School Employees and Student Speech
Monday, June 16, 2008
Legislation follows 2006 law that protects students to also protect teachers

SACRAMENTO -- On a bipartisan 66-5 vote, the California State Assembly today approved legislation to protect high school and college teachers and other employees from retaliation by administrators as a result of student speech, which most often happens when a journalism advisor or professor is disciplined for content in a student newspaper. The bill, which was approved by the Senate in April on a 35-2 vote, only requires a procedural concurrence vote in the Senate before consideration by the Governor.

Read the full story on Senator Yeland Lee's web site.

Shasta High paper reinstated

Calif. district reverses decision to shut down paper that ran flag-burning photo

© 2008 Student Press Law Center

June 13, 2008

CALIFORNIA -- Shasta High School will have a journalism class next year after all, even though the school principal planned to eliminate the course after The Volcano ran a photo of students burning an American flag.

Superintendent Mike Stuart said Thursday he plans to give the school funding for the program so it can build enrollment.

Read the full story at the Student Press Law Center web site.

Updated: Shasta High Volcano erupts

Principal: Photo, editorial 'cement decision' to drop paper

By Rob Rogers Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The adviser calls it sabotage, the principal finds it embarrassing and the superintendent is offended.

The students see it all as a matter of freedom of speech.

Shasta High published its last issue of the Volcano, the student newspaper, before the end of classes last week with an image on the front page of a student burning the American flag and an editorial inside defending the practice.

"The paper's done," said Milan Woollard, Shasta High principal. "There is not going to be a school newspaper next year."

Read the full story at

Chicago Tribune to launch paper for HS students

Chicago Tribune To Launch High School Paper
Monday, June 9, 2008

Since the Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co. announced last week that they will cut pages to cut costs, it's expected that the paper would be seeking out others ways to generate ad revenue while keeping production costs at a minimum. They found what they were looking for in the high school newspaper business.

This fall, the Tribune and Chicago Public Schools are introducing a new weekly publication and complementary interactive Web site, tentatively called "The Mash." The content will be aimed at and largely provided (for free) by high school students. The Chicago Tribune will sell the ads, which will be distributed to the system's roughly 100,000 students and 130 high schools.

For more on the latest Chicago Tribune's financial situation and on "The Mash", go to

Yes, it was good for us, but also fun. Mostly

Published June 10, 2008

On May 27, Boonsboro High School English students from Cindy Ours' and Sarah Hamilton's classes visited the Newseum, a museum of journalism and media in Washington, D.C.
Here are some student reflections on the trip.

Read the full story at Herald-Mail Online.

Young adults 'bombarded' by facts and updates

Study shows young adults hit by 'news fatigue'


Associated Press Writer

Young adults experience news fatigue from being inundated by facts and updates and have trouble accessing in-depth stories, according to a study to be unveiled at a global media conference Monday.

The Context-Based Research Group, an ethnographic research firm, found that the news consumption behavior of younger readers differs profoundly from that of previous generations.

Read the full story at

Censorship widening, experts say

Naperville Central newspaper adviser's ouster cited as example of trend in U.S. high schools

By Ted Gregory

Tribune reporter

Amid the rush at the end of the school year, Linda Kane's reassignment at Naperville Central High School looks like little more than a routine staff shuffle.

After serving as student newspaper adviser for 19 years, when she moved the Central Times from life support to national prominence, Kane is leaving that role.

But it isn't voluntary. She was fired as adviser effective Thursday, the last day of school, although she will continue to teach.

Read the full story at the Chicago Tribune Web site.

Logging on for the First Amendment

J-Ideas, Ball State Teachers College again offer online course for administrators

By Gerry Appel J-Ideas

After a long day working with other administrators, teachers and students, Susie Coleman still needs to prepare for a class she is taking for continuing credit. However, the dean of students at Greenfield Central High School does not have to worry about gassing up her car, grabbing paper and a pencil, and racing to a classroom.

Coleman is part of a course for principals and administrators that takes place in cyberspace. And not only is the delivery method new, the class itself is about the First Amendment rights of students in public schools -- a topic that has never been the focus of an entire course. The course, "The Administrator and the First Amendment," is offered through Ball State University's Teachers College in conjunction with J-Ideas, a national First Amendment institute in the Department of Journalism at Ball State. Using online lectures and discussion boards as a launching point, students craft papers analyzing the First Amendment in schools. The eight-week course is underway this summer for a fifth time, following up sessions in fall 2005 and subsequent semesters.

Coleman, a former journalism adviser, admits the class delivered more than expected.

"I will admit that I thought I knew it all, or at least most of it, but the course opened my eyes in so many ways," said Coleman, a student in fall 2007.

-Why an online course on the First Amendment?-

The First Amendment is endangered in public schools. According to the 2007 Future of the First Amendment study, conducted by the James L and John S. Knight Foundation:

• Only 25 percent of principals believe high school students should be allowed to report controversial issues in their student newspapers without approval of school authorities. • Only 17 percent say student media is a high priority. • 19 percent of principals believe professional newspapers should be reviewed by the government.

These feelings are in line with the 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier U.S. Supreme Court case, which helped strip students of their First Amendment rights. Hazelwood was the result of student journalists suing their school district after the principal halted distribution of a student newspaper containing stories on divorce and teen pregnancy. The court ruled that principals can censor student newspapers if they have a reason "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns." However, this vague rationale has led to principals censoring students who write content with which they disagree.

Student opinions of the First Amendment are low as well. According to a 2007 survey of high school students:

• 74 percent of students responded that they do not appreciate the First Amendment. • 54 percent say newspapers should not be able to publish without government approval. • 32 percent say the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.

One goal of the course is to get principals to include the First Amendment in their busy schedules.

"Principals have one of the toughest jobs in America," said Warren Watson, J-Ideas director, who instructs the course with Joseph McKinney, chairman of the Department of Educational Leadership at Ball State. "We're hoping to prompt our administrators to better understand media law and incorporate First Amendment concerns into their routines."

-The First Amendment in public schools-

Journalists, educators, and others agree -- the First Amendment has a role in schools, and not just for student media. A strong First Amendment atmosphere creates stronger, more engaged citizens, said Teachers College Dean Roy Weaver.

"There is no more noble and vital purpose for schooling than to educate future citizens and leaders in the principles of the Constitution," Weaver said. "The First Amendment is the cornerstone for our freedoms. Administrators, who are the leaders of our schools, must be advocates for the First Amendment. They must model the behaviors that protect these rights in the schools, which serve as ‘mini' democratic societies."

A school is a natural place to develop these skills for a democracy, said Roger Lavery, dean of the College of Communication, Information, and Media at Ball State.

"To be successful as a republic, you require an informed citizenry," Lavery said. "To not have different opinions, without different point of views, I think we would be going down a slippery slope that would not have a happy ending to it."

Marilyn Weaver, chairwoman of Ball State's Department of Journalism, said she agrees.

"As educational leaders, principals have a responsibility to see that students are practicing skills they need to be tomorrow's leaders and citizens," she said. "How can we expect students to be good citizens if we don't give them these rights when they are young? Schools should embrace these responsibilities of the First Amendment for the sake of everyone's future."

McKinney said he believes student media can play a key role in creating better citizens.

"It's so important that students learn to be responsible and to understand that this is a freedom that cannot be taken for granted," McKinney said. "Students need to learn to be good citizens and if a school provides that outlet -- media outlet -- it really enhances and improves student participation in exercises that are going to be helpful in respect to them becoming good citizens."

If the First Amendment is so important in schools, one might wonder why some administrators fight for control of student media. Conventional wisdom suggests administrators often fear students will publish stories that portray the school in a bad light. McKinney said many administrators wish to maintain their school's status quo, which can clash with student media.

"Sometimes it's probably more expedient, if you will, in terms of operating the school not to have students going off and raising questions that are important in terms of the greater society but are questions that some conservative people might think should not be dealt with in a school setting," McKinney said.

Randy Swikle, a former Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Journalism Teacher of the Year at Johnsburg (Ill.) High School, said he believes "bad news" in a student newspaper does not have to be bad for the school.

"When school officials share bad news with the school community, they can garner local resources to help resolve problems and build support for the school mission," Swikle said.

"The public accepts mistakes much easier than cover-ups. When a principal wants to censor a student newspaper because of his notion of ‘bad publicity,' he betrays the very essence of both First Amendment protection and the school mission -- enlightenment."

Swikle suggested that, "the better approach is for the principal to help guide the student reporter by inspiring good ethics and responsible coverage."

There also is confusion among principals on when and whether they can legally censor students. Two key U.S. Supreme Court cases determine right of ownership.

Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969) revolved around Iowa high school student Mary Beth Tinker and several classmates who protested the Vietnam War at school by wearing black armbands. The Supreme Court ruled that students “do not waive their rights at the schoolhouse gate." This served as a victory for student expression until 1988, when the Hazelwood case stunned free speech advocates nationwide.

In Hazelwood -- a school in suburban St. Louis -- the Supreme Court ruled that schools could censor if the reasoning is "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns."

"If principals are really interested in promoting diversity of opinion, creating a marketplace of ideas for students and discussing the problems of the day, they are better off using the Tinker standard," McKinney said.

-Logging on-

With strengthening the First Amendment in schools as the goal, educators at Ball State and J-Ideas moved to create a one of a kind online course.

Unlike many online courses, students do not have to meet online every week at a specific time. Instead, they log online early in the week to watch instructional videos and spend the rest of the week reacting on the message boards to the videos. The videos cover a variety of topics about the First Amendment and media literacy, including lectures, panel discussions and interviews with a variety of First Amendment experts.

In a staff editorial, the Muncie Star Press praised the course.

"This necessary balance of independence and responsibility (of students) is hard to define, but Ball State's new course should help principals navigate through the maze," the editorial read.

Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, also said he believes the course has significant value to schools. Creating a strong First Amendment atmosphere in schools should start with administrators, Policinski said.

"Teaching the teachers is an approach in which we (the First Amendment Center) are involved," Policinski said. “But teaching those who direct the teachers is essential to re-creating an educational environment in which both the academic standards and administrative example live up to the ideals of free expression."

Lavery believes the use of technology in the course is beneficial to principals, who can develop additional computer skills while studying the First Amendment. Lavery added Ball State's reputation for journalism and teacher education creates an ideal home for this class.

"Because of the expertise that has been brought together (at J-Ideas), I think it creates a more credible source of educational material in course development than maybe a traditional journalism program in the country," Lavery said. "It's better credentialed."

Marilyn Weaver said she agrees that the course's instructors are top-notch.

"There are so many people involved in teaching this course, from instructors at Ball State who have been in the classroom and worked as professional journalists, to the former Dow Jones Journalism Teacher of the Year," Weaver said. "It's incredible. I don't think you would get that type of instruction from an on-campus class."

Principals who have taken the course have found the technology useful. They also said the course's asynchronous schedule is convenient.

"The ability to access course material 24/7 had advantages at times. It was easier for me than meeting at a regular time each week or commuting to a campus," said Ron Owings, principal of Northwestern Elementary (Kokomo, Ind.) School.

Rhonda G. Thompson, director of special education at Sheridan (Ind.) Community Schools, echoed Owings' thoughts.

"I like that I can work at my own pace; I have a week to complete assignments and I still get a response from the professor," Thompson said. "This course has caused me to rethink some issues about the First Amendment -- as an administrator, I now make sure I know the law before disciplining a student."

Thompson is not alone in saying the course has changed perceptions on the First Amendment. With principals having to worry about a multitude of school issues, they often say they don't give the First Amendment much thought. In fact, according to Coleman, in administrator classes, her colleagues are sometimes told how to suppress the First Amendment.

"Some administrators have been taught to fear the student press or to restrict it," Coleman said. "I know when I began my admin training in the ‘90s that was the stance of my professor. We would fight weekly over rights for students and restrictions on the student press."

-Variety is the spice-

Students in the course study a variety of free speech topics. Court cases such as Tinker and Hazelwood are covered, First Amendment research is analyzed and contemporary issues are also explored. Some of these timely topics include students' First Amendment rights from home. There are documented instances of students criticizing teachers, administrators or fellow students on their blogs. When this occurs, principals often punish students, despite the students creating online content from their homes. Taking action against students for off-campus behavior brings up the concept of the school's arm reaching into homes to parent students.

During the course's offering in summer 2007, students studied this concept as it was discussed across the nation as a result of the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case. The case, formally known as Morse v. Frederick, involved a student displaying a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner across the street from an Olympic torch relay, a school-sanctioned event. While Alaska student Joseph Frederick was holding up the banner on a day he was absent from school, the parade was considered a field trip by the school -- leading to principal Deborah Morse to walk across the street to confiscate Frederick's banner. Frederick claimed his First Amendment rights were violated, and took Morse all the way to the Supreme Court. The court sided with the school, saying the event was considered an extension of campus. Furthermore, the court ruled that schools could keep students from advocating illegal drug use.

The "Bong Hits" case was not the only example of students learning while events unfold. During the course's spring 2007 offering, former Woodlan High School journalism teacher Amy Sorrell found herself fighting for her job after one of her students published an editorial urging tolerance for homosexuals. While Megan Chase's column did not advocate homosexuality -- it only rallied respect for gays and lesbians -- school administrators still felt Sorrell should have run the story by them first, which she was expected to do for controversial subjects. The school eventually forced Sorrell into teaching English at different school in the district before Sorrell left to teach journalism at a private school.

The online course also allowed principals to research the history of their school's publications, through assignments that required analysis of old school newspapers and yearbooks. This assignment helped principals understand the history of prior review at their schools, while uncovering other bits of school history.

-Best practices-

While the course's students encounter multiple instances of administrators censoring student media, they also learn about examples where principals support a free student press. Swikle shared such a story.

When the now-retired Swikle was teaching at Johnsburg (Il.) High School, his principal was arrested for operating a motorboat while intoxicated. Naturally, Swikle's newspaper students wanted to cover this story. Although the principal did not want them to cover the arrest, he was cooperative in not interfering with the story.

"He placed the school mission above his own vulnerability," Swikle said. "The principal told student editors he'd rather they not cover the story but quickly added: ‘But if you don't, you wouldn't be very good journalists.'

"Here's a courageous administrator who accepted accountability and at his own peril supported the most basic call of the school mission: enlightenment. The weekly student newspaper covered the news story and printed editorials and letters to the editor on the topic. When a judge later exonerated the principal, that was reported on the front page, too."

Swikle added, First Amendment rights are in step with schools' missions.

"In the 25-year history of my high school, administrators never asked student journalists to submit their work for prior review. They never threatened censorship. Instead, they nurtured the notion of a free and responsible student press and practiced democratic education by allowing student perspectives -- whether agreeable or contentious -- to be heard.

-Logging off-

Looking back, Coleman and other administrators marvel at how the course either reinforced their supporting views of the First Amendment, or taught them to look at free speech in schools from a different perspective.

"I really felt like many useful and thought-provoking topics were covered, even in areas I thought I was a ‘practicing expert' in," Coleman said. "I still learned new ways to look at things ... I enjoyed expanding my knowledge base and really being forced to think more about the digital age and how the First Amendment applies."

Dick Daniel, retired principal from Muncie (Ind.) Central High School, said the class used its own First Amendment rights during discussion.

"Everyone was allowed to speak his mind," Daniel said. "I didn't see a put down the entire time. We didn't always agree with each other and the free flow of information permitted by the discussion board was healthy."

However, the First Amendment does not just apply to classes or to student media. Joel Martin, superintendent of the Oak Hill United School Corporation (Converse, Ind.), said the class has changed his perception of the First Amendment outside of school.

"I am going to be a better administrator because of this course. I was challenged to think and I was able to hear perspectives and wisdom from a very credible group," Martin said. "Not only as a school administrator, but also as a father of four kids, I will be more apt in the coming weeks to ‘teach' about First Amendment issues."

In the end, Watson said he hopes students feel the same way as Martin -- enthused about the First Amendment and acting as a soldier on this document's behalf.

"Issues in public schools are often complicated," he said. "An administrator can use free speech as a means to learn more about those issues -- and the mood in a school."

"And teach the principles of democracy at the same time."

For more information on the course, call (765) 285-8923 or e-mail

High school dean sues over fake Facebook profile

Judge orders social-networking site to turn over information on prankster

By Jon Murray

Defamation and identity fraud lawsuits have become the latest weapons of choice for educators targeted by online tormentors.

A fake online profile prompted a Roncalli High School dean to file just such a suit this week.

Cloaked in near-anonymity, the creator of the profile on Facebook used it to contact Roncalli students with inappropriate messages in Tim Puntarelli's name, an attorney for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said.

School officials came one step closer to unmasking the person's identity Friday when a Marion County judge ordered the online social-networking site to turn over information identifying the user.

>>Read the full story at the Indianapolis Star website.
>>Read Indianapolis Star Editor Dennis Ryerson's column

Offensive finger censored by WU yearbook publisher

Kaw yearbook was censored by Herff Jones
By Barbara Hollingsworth The Capital-Journal Published Thursday, May 08, 2008

For a story about a speaker who made frequent use of four-letter words and other blush-worthy speech, a picture of a middle finger extended toward his audience seemed to make the right point.

But when Washburn University's yearbook editor cracked open the new Kaw yearbook in recent weeks and flipped to pages 32 and 33, the bird wasn't there. No question about it, the middle digit belonging to MAD Magazine senior editor Joe Raiola's right hand was gone, air-brushed away.

Read the full story at the Capital-Journal website.

KPCC radio interviews J-Ideas education specialist

J-Ideas Education Specialist Gerry Appel was recently interviewed by Southern California Public Radio about First Amendment rights in schools. Appel talked with reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez while attending the spring Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association conference in Anaheim, Calif. For a transcript of the story, and to listen to the story, visit the KPCC website.

Poynter offering job webinar

Need to Land Your First Journalism Job? Learn how in this Poynter/NewsU Webinar

Are you getting ready to graduate but still looking for a job? Even in the best of times, finding your first journalism job can be challenging, but in these uncertain economic times, you need to know how best to position yourself in the job marketplace.

Register now for Getting Your First Job in Journalism and join Colleen Eddy, director of Poynter Career Center, and Joe Grimm, recruiting and development editor at the Detroit Free Press, as they provide insight on job-hunting techniques for new graduates, with a special emphasis on how best to prepare for a challenging job market.

Download this PDF for more details.

Muncie Star Press profiles J-Ideas

J-Ideas keeps students, advisers aware of their constitutional rights


Published in the April 30, 2008 edition of the Muncie Star Press

MUNCIE -- This year five issues of Central High School's newspaper, The Munsonian, highlighted the five freedoms provided by the First Amendment.

Included with each amendment was a student example of how someone exercised that right. In that amendment is freedom of the press, the cornerstone of journalism -- both student and professional. That freedom allows budding high school journalists to tackle sometimes controversial issues important to students. "We are the future of the United States, and we're the future of journalism," Central senior Bailey Hall said.

Raising First Amendment awareness among students, teachers and administrators about the importance of the First Amendment has been the mission of the Institute for Digital Education, Activities and Scholarship (J-Ideas), since its inception in 2003.

"It's really at the base of everything that we do as Americans participating in democracy," J-Ideas Director and Ball State University journalism professor Warren Watson said. "Journalism is a form of civics; the more people know in a society, the better informed the decision. The trick is to reach the people who don't believe the way we do."

Since a grant from the Knight Foundation for the program has expired, Ball State now will fund the program up to $100,000. J-Ideas will have one full-time employee instead of three, with graduate assistants filling in the gap.

Issues such as prior review, in which principals review a publication before it goes to print, have become a hot topic in recent years, Watson said. Several high-profile cases in Indiana, including the suspension of Woodland Junior-Senior High School publication adviser Amy Sorrell in 2007, have spurred discussion. Workshops are held for administrators to help them understand First Amendment rights with regard to student publications.

Principals often cite the 1988 Supreme Court case Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier as the decision that gave them the right to review publications before print.

"Hazelwood gives them some latitude to censor in some things if they feel that they have an educational purpose," Watson said. "They basically apply it too liberally, and it should be applied to a very specific situation. Some principals have been emboldened to be more aggressive that way."

Because The Munsonian is self-funded -- students sell ads to cover the cost of the publication -- and the publication adviser and administration understand the paper's role, that administration doesn't practice prior review, leaving students to hone their craft whether the subjects are positive features or controversial topics.

"I think part of being a journalist is stating the facts and being honest," said Angel Ramey, a sophomore at Central. "We tell it like it is, and people don't really understand that."

Burris Laboratory School publication adviser Betsy Ahlersmeyer hits First Amendment rights hard in her classes. Burris students tend to censor themselves -- aware they are a K-12 building. Curiously, many students believe it is OK for a principal to review an article first, said Ahlersmeyer, who is a First Amendment proponent,

"They've got small children around them," Ahlersmeyer said. "They're very aware of that. We are distributed pretty widely; even though we don't hand it out to the kindergarten kids, it is around."

Contact news reporter Oseye T. Boyd at 213-5830.

FULL TEXT: L.A. Times columnist speaks at JEA/NSPA


By Bill Plaschke

Thank you very much. It's great to be here. I am in awe of all you high school journalists out there. In fact, I aspire to be like all of you high school journalists out there.

Listen to one of my recent e-mails:

‘'Dear Bill, I have come to the following conclusion regarding your critical column about the Los Angeles Lakers. You write like a sixth grader.''

Of course, when I get ripped like I always write back to the nasty reader.

"Dear Kobe…"

Folks, my job is just like yours. I've got a principal censoring me. He's called an editor. I've got an adviser hassling me. That's my mom. And yes, about once a week, I totally panic and lose my mind and slap a bunch of silly stuff down on the page just to get it off to the printer in time. It's called a Dodger column.

The point is, we're basically in the same business, one of the toughest businesses in the world, but one the coolest business in the world, a business that still makes millions of dollars and reaches zillion of people, no matter what Wall Street says.

We're in the business of touch. We touch our world like nobody else can, right? You write a story and after it appears in your paper, you walk down the halls and this person you barely know, from the jock clique, walks up to you and says, "hey, you made me think." And then this person from the skater clique comes up and says, "hey, you made me laugh." And it happens again, and again, and soon you realize you've used your words to touch people, and is there anything neater?

We're in the business of change. The bathrooms next to the gym never have toilet paper, never, and you check it out and talk to students and write about it and the story appears on the front page and -- wham -- suddenly there is toilet paper. The school has done it, but really, you've done it, your words have changed it, and is there anything cooler?

Finally, we're in the business of miracles. You have a crazy idea, you talk to a few crazy people, you crazily type the thing into your laptop at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday night while eating Captain Crunch and clicking on YouTube, you push a button and send all this nuttiness to the school paper . . . and two days later, your classmates and teachers are holding it, really holding in their hands, in black and white, reading it, laughing about it, talking about it, being moved by it, calling your "nuttiness" the voice of reason.

Everybody talks about the wonders of the Internet but, let's face it, a newspaper is a daily miracle.

You make those miracles. And you can be that miracle.

I'm that miracle. I mean, I'm a freaking miracle.

Growing up in Louisville, Ky, I went from a tiny Catholic grade school to this giant public high school called Ballard. My parents weren't rich, I didn't know anybody, and I stuttered. My first three months, every day I would run home after school and sleep for two hours, I was so scared and depressed.

I was sure of only two things in the entire world. I loved to write, and I loved sports. But what good was that? I didn't figure it out until one day at a basketball game, I noticed everyone in the stands chanting for the worst guy on the team to play. His name was Earl. ‘'We Want Earl!'' Well, Earl was one of my first friends, one of the only people at school who would talk to me. I thought, this is fascinating, people cheering for the worst guy on the team, what was that like? So I asked him. And then I wrote a story about it and turned it into the school newspaper. And here came that miracle. Two days later, people were holding the paper and pointing at me as I walked the halls. Teachers were patting my back. Even the jocks were suddenly talking to me. And I realized, this was not because of my background or athletic skill or coolness. Hell, I couldn't even talk without stuttering, remember? This was all because of my words. I thought, I can have this much effect on my world with just words? Wow.

My words brought me through another tough situation, at my college, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. It was, at the time, a small school with few facilities. I went there because we had just moved to Illinois and it was cheap. I lived in a church basement. I had no money, no connections, I had only my words.

We had no gym at school, no football team and a basketball team that played in a local high school. Besides soccer, we didn't really have any big-time sports. So I didn't write about games. I wrote about people. The school's only competitive pool player, doing his homework in smoky taverns. The school's long distance runner, trying to qualify for a marathon by running through cow pastures. I didn't write stars, because we had no stars. I wrote humans. That’s how I learned of the simple power in their stories. That's why I still do that today.

Being an unconventional writer from a school not known for sports, I had little shot at the sportswriter job market. After my junior year I applied for 50 summer internships. I got 49 consecutive rejection letters. Then came the miracle. I received a positive letter from a place in Muskegon Michigan called the Muskegon Chronicle. The editor called me. "After a couple of beers, this stuff reads pretty good,'' he said. I was hired.

After another school year, I applied to 50 more summer internships. Again, I got 49 consecutive rejection letters. I was set to go work at my father's printing plant when, coming home from class in the middle of winter, I spotted my two stoned roommates standing in their boxer shorts on a snowy balcony. "Bill, somebody, somebody called!" I'll remember this moment forever. I yelled, "Who called?'' They yelled back, "Oh, wow, um, we got no clue, dude." But they had written it down. It was the St. Petersburg Times. Somebody wanted me. I was so excited, I drove down there early and missed my graduation ceremony. I was so excited, I didn't put oil in the car and it sputtered around for the next two years.

Thus started a career that has resulted in four Columnist of the Year awards and a Pulitzer Prize nomination and man, that's a miracle. I was a miracle. All because of my words. It was proof that words can take you place you will never imagine.

That can be you. Be that miracle. Your words can make you one. That's why journalism is still the greatest equalizing business in the world. It doesn't matter your color or your gender or your bank account or where you live or how you talk. If you can write, you can touch, and if you can touch, we will hire you, because that's one thing newspapers still do better than anyone else, we can touch and be touched, the morning paper soggy from the milk and the tears.

Be the miracle.

And write the miracles.

As I said, that's been my career, writing human miracles great and small, from the youth league umpire who worked a season while dying of cancer to the junior college basketball player who cared for his bedridden mother and a developmentally challenged brother. He had pager on the bench and would leave in middle of games when she was in distress.

That's not Players of the Year. No All Stars. No Studs. Just humans. But that's what we are, right? Humans. We like to read about ourselves. We like to read about what we can become. We can't Be Like Mike, we can't dunk, we can't imagine it. But we can sure as heck imagine what it's like to feel like you have to be in three places at one time, all while trying to follow your dream, like that basketball player.

I'm not the guy who likes to write about Super Bowls or Final Fours. I'm the guy who likes to write about the first Mexican American to play in a Super Bowl, I go to his border home and write about Sunday tamales with his family. And I'm the guy who writes about the former Final Four hero who is now selling cars in Las Vegas. He's so far from his glory, he barely recognizes himself on the video.

Write the miracles. They're rarely loud, and they're rarely in lights, but they're always there. I bet right now I can walk into your high school and find one and run it our paper and it would kick your butts.

I said this once to a class at USC. They all laughed. Then two days later, I wrote a story about a 5-foot-4 poor, disabled kid from East L.A. who took two busses for two hours every day to come to football practice to carry water for the football team. It turns out, the coaches fed him and the equipment guys clothed him and they all cheered for him, made him their unofficial mascot. I wrote this story about a great team reaching down to help one of society's weaker members, and the USC writers came up to me later, all mad, and said, "Man, we just thought he was some weird kid who kept showing up."

Every school has a "weird" kid. Find that kid. Write that kid. We can learn from that kid. Write the miracles. Look for the miracles. After a 16-year career, you know what story finally convinced the L.A. Times to make me a columnist? A high school story that I wrote without assignment, on my own time.

I was researching a story about the NFL outlawing bandannas because they felt it glorified gangs. I called the coach of an L.A. school, Garfield High, that was located in gang territory. The coach said, "Bandannas are the least of my problems."

I wrote down, and I hung up, but then I started thinking. If that's the least of his problems, what else is going on there? So I needed to call him back. Now I know in today's age of e-mail and text messaging, it's hard for some of you to call people. Don't lie. I bet a lot of you have set up stories through e-mail, and some of you maybe have even conducted interviews via e-mail or text?

Don't. If you want to touch the reader, you have to transfer the touch of the subject. And you touch nobody on e-mail. They have to hear your voice. They have to see your face. So, anyway, I tried to e-mail this coach . . . no, seriously, I called him back and arranged to spend a week there after work every day. And the things I saw amazed me. Kids getting helmets stolen on the way to the games. Kids afraid to score touchdowns in one end zone during practice because gang members hung out there. It was a miracle they could play. I spent a week there, wrote a column about that week, it ran on the front page of the paper, generated over 1,000 e-mails, and they gave my column.

I didn't get it writing about Tiger Woods or Barry Bonds. I got it writing about Garfield High. This same thing happened a couple of years later, during the middle of the Laker playoffs, when I noticed that a Compton High School softball team was losing each game 40-0. I drove down there, discovered a field filled with dead rats and a team with no gloves or equipment, even though the boys team played on a beautiful field with all kinds of equipment. It was a miracle these girls didn't quit.

I wrote the story, and my bosses didn't want to run it. Bad timing, they said. Not during the Lakers playoffs, they said. It looks funny, they said.

Well, I complained so much they finally ran it…and turns out, it received as much response as all the Laker stories combined. Like I said, a miracle.

Lots of people are going to try to stop you from writing the miracle. Because nobody believes in them, right?

They're going to want you to write about the star football quarterback . . . but you're going to want to do a story on the green-haired kid who rides the unicycle every day during lunch. Turns out he's training to join the circus… Fight for the miracle.

They're going to want you to write about the principal of the year . . . but you're going to want to write about the substitute teacher who is working only to support a son who was wounded in Iraq. Fight for the miracle.

People are going to criticize you, call you soft, rip you for not tackling bigger problems like school budget and teacher shortages.

Well, you can cover those. But do it by finding the miracles in those. Find the student mom whose one-year-old has to spend her days being watched by an 89-year-old great grandmother because the school cut daycare. Find the boozy local mechanic who is teaching shop classes in exchange for being allowed to pass out his business cards to the kids.

Be the miracle. Find the miracle. Tell the miracle.

TV can't show it like we can show it. Radio can't sing it like we can sing it. And the bloggers just can't make it stick like we can make it stick.

If you wanted me to come here today and talk about your future as a blogger, you've got the wrong guy. Blogging is great, but blogging can be done by anyone with a computer and a couch. At the end of the day, readers still want perspective from someone who reports and interviews, readers still want a closer look from someone with access, reader still want to learn, and a newspaper will always do that best.

We're not dying, we're just reshaping. Much of our stuff is going on the web before it goes in the paper, and that's fine, because the readers still know it's us, someone they trust, someone they understand.

Your future as newspaper people is still great. You can still go as far as your belief in miracles can take you.

My belief was tested one a couple of years ago when I began receiving this string of well-written e-mail critical of my Dodger columns.

It was from a woman who was obviously very smart about the team, yet when I asked her why she didn't go to games or even be a sports writer, she gave me these weird answers.

Her name was Sarah Morris, she was 32 years old, and she said she was disabled. When I said they had wheelchair ramps in press boxes and stadiums, she said she had cerebral palsy so bad, she couldn't move anything. When I asked how she typed these e-mail, she said she did it with her head.

When I asked WHY she wrote about the game, she said she watched every game and wrote a game story every night for a private website that only her mother could see. She said it was her only contact with the outside world.

It was all so weird. Then when I asked if I could talk to her over the phone for a possible story about this nutty fan, she said she couldn't talk.

Right about now, I thought this was probably some 42-year-old male plumber from Hollywood just messing with me. If I was blogging, I would have written her off. If I didn't believe in miracles, I would have stopped answering her e-mails.

But I asked her where she lived. She said she was in a small town in Texas. Then I asked her if I could visit her. She gave me directions.

So one day when I was in San Antonio with the Lakers, I threw caution to the wind and drove three hours through winding country roads to where she said she lived.

I pulled up to this rusty gate, which led to this dirt road, which ended up at this garage-like shack with broken windows. At that point, once again, I doubted the miracle. Then my eyes were briefly blinded by this shining. It was from a stack of old wheelchairs.

Then an old woman came to the screen door, asked if I was Bill Plaschke, and invited me inside. There, in this dark, garbage-packed room with rats everywhere, sat a bobbing-headed girl in front of a flickering TV and an old computer, a girl wearing a head pointer.

‘'Mr. Plaschke, this is Sarah Morris,'' said the mother, and I started to cry.

How could I have doubted the human spirit. How could I have doubted people's capacity to amaze. How could I have even briefly not believed in the miracle?

I wrote the story. We received several thousand e-mail and the story appeared on everything from ESPN to Good Morning America. But, more important, people started reading her stories, and MLB was so enamored by it, they hired her, and today everyone Sarah Morris today on

Only in journalism can our words mean so much. Only in journalism can we use those words to change the world.

Write the miracle. Be the miracle.


Notes from Jan Ewell on stories referenced in the speech, arranged in order of publication:

The story of the Garfield High School football team starts on page 125 of Bill Plaschke's Good Sport, Spoilsports, Foul Balls and Oddballs. It was originally printed in the Los Angeles Times 9 Nov 1995 as "A Proud Struggle on the Field--and Off; Gangs and poverty and despair taint their lives. But come game time, the Garfield High Bulldogs get a chance to turn fear and rage and pain into glory.

The story of the basketball player who played with a pager on the bench was printed in the Los Angeles on 8 March 2001 as "A Player With Promise; Glendale's Schnyder Is a Division I Prospect Who Spends Most of His Time Taking Care of His Mother, Who Has Multiple Sclerosis"

The story of Sarah Morris starts on page 152 of Bill Plaschke's Good Sport, Spoilsports, Foul Balls and Oddballs. It was originally printed in the Los Angeles Times 19 August 2001 as "Her Blue Haven; One Fan's Devotion to the Dodgers Makes It Possible to Dream the Impossible ‘Dream'." A follow-up story was printed 26 Feb, 2003 as "Her Secret is Out; Sarah Morris, the ultimate Dodger Fan, no longer toils in Internet anonymity, but she wants to do even more."

The story of the Compton High School softball team was printed in the Los Angeles Time on 7 May 2004 as "Phat Chants"

The story of the youth league umpire dying of cancer was printed in the Los Angeles Times on 29 May, 2005 as "Blue Plate Special: As a small-town umpire battles cancer he is finally learning how much his attitude and voice of reason have meant to the community over the decades"

The story of the Final Four player who is now selling cars in Las Vegas was printed in the Los Angeles Times on 3 April 2006 as "Shine Wore Off, but He Wasn't Lost in Moment"

The story of the mentally disabled water-carrier adopted by the USC football team was printed in the Los Angeles Times on 22 Nov 2007 as "Big Man on Campus; It didn't seem likely that Ricky Rosas would become an important part of the USC football team, but that's exactly what has happened for the Trojans' 'little brother'"

Group likes press ideal of principal

By JANESE HEAVIN of the Tribune's staff
Published Saturday, April 26, 2008

This year alone, Rock Bridge High School student reporters have tackled religion, homosexuality, teen pregnancies and other typically taboo topics that can make school administrators squirm.

Rock Bridge Principal Kathy Ritter isn't necessarily an exception, but she hasn't let controversial subjects stop her from allowing reporters at The Rock to enjoy freedom of the press as they learn the ropes.

That's one reason Ritter was named Administrator of the Year at the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association's annual J-Day on Thursday at the University of Missouri. Staff members and Robin Stover, advisor of The Rock, nominated Ritter for the award.

Read the full story in the Columbia Tribune.

Media advisers sought for teacher awards program

The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund is looking for teachers like Jim McGonnell, 2007 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year, to apply for the 2008 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year program. Applicants may be nominated by administrators, colleagues, students or may self-nominate.

The annual program identifies the nation's top journalism teacher, four Distinguished Advisers and several teachers cited as Special Recognition award winners. The teacher of the year acts as a spokesperson for scholastic journalism.

The winning teacher will speak to the November convention of the Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association in St. Louis. The teacher will attend the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the college-level Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The Teacher of the Year is a keynote luncheon speaker for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, a co-sponsor, in New York City each March. Additionally, the winning teacher can attend a professional-level seminar offered at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, Fla. The Teacher of the Year is a paid columnist for the Fund's free quarterly newspaper, Adviser Update.

The Teacher of the Year and four Distinguished Advisers will receive free subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition, a co-sponsor, which includes 30 copies of the full-color newspaper for students, a free Teacher Guide, unlimited access to the Classroom Edition Web site and a daily Journal.

Additionally, the winning teacher will receive a pin and a plaque and the journalism program will get a state-of-the-art laptop computer. The school district will receive a per diem for program-related absences. A senior at the Teacher of the Year's high school will receive a $1,000 college scholarship to pursue journalism studies. One student at each of the four Distinguished Advisers' schools will receive $500 college scholarships. Travel and accommodations for the Teacher of the Year will be provided by the Newspaper Fund and program sponsors.

A nominee must have at least three years of experience teaching high school journalism or advising a newspaper, newsmagazine or news Web site; have taught or advised during the 2007-2008 academic year; and plans to continue teaching and/or advising in 2008-2009. Download a form from the Programs section of the Web site at The one-page application form asks 14 questions and should be accompanied by a résumé, a 35mm color head shot of the teacher, and six sets of two issues of the 2007-2008 school newspaper, newsmagazine or news Web site. No more than three letters of support may be submitted. The nomination postmark deadline is July 1.

The selection panel for 2008 will include Jim McGonnell along with professional journalists, college educators and representatives of major scholastic journalism groups.

Media Advisers Sought for Teacher Awards Program

The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund is looking for teachers like Jim McGonnell, 2007 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year, to apply for the 2008 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year program. Applicants may be nominated by administrators, colleagues, students or may self-nominate.

The annual program identifies the nation's top journalism teacher, four Distinguished Advisers and several teachers cited as Special Recognition award winners. The teacher of the year acts as a spokesperson for scholastic journalism.

The winning teacher will speak to the November convention of the Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association in St. Louis. The teacher will attend the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the college-level Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The Teacher of the Year is a keynote luncheon speaker for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, a co-sponsor, in New York City each March. Additionally, the winning teacher can attend a professional-level seminar offered at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, Fla. The Teacher of the Year is a paid columnist for the Fund's free quarterly newspaper, Adviser Update.

The Teacher of the Year and four Distinguished Advisers will receive free subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition, a co-sponsor, which includes 30 copies of the full-color newspaper for students, a free Teacher Guide, unlimited access to the Classroom Edition Web site and a daily Journal.

Additionally, the winning teacher will receive a pin and a plaque and the journalism program will get a state-of-the-art laptop computer. The school district will receive a per diem for program-related absences. A senior at the Teacher of the Year's high school will receive a $1,000 college scholarship to pursue journalism studies. One student at each of the four Distinguished Advisers' schools will receive $500 college scholarships. Travel and accommodations for the Teacher of the Year will be provided by the Newspaper Fund and program sponsors.

A nominee must have at least three years of experience teaching high school journalism or advising a newspaper, newsmagazine or news Web site; have taught or advised during the 2007-2008 academic year; and plans to continue teaching and/or advising in 2008-2009. Download a form from the Programs section of the Web site at The one-page application form asks 14 questions and should be accompanied by a résumé, a 35mm color head shot of the teacher, and six sets of two issues of the 2007-2008 school newspaper, newsmagazine or news Web site. No more than three letters of support may be submitted. The nomination postmark deadline is July 1.

The selection panel for 2008 will include Jim McGonnell along with professional journalists, college educators and representatives of major scholastic journalism groups.

NAA releases high school study

By Gerry Appel J-Ideas
Twenty-one years after a groundbreaking study revealed that high school journalism students perform better than their non-journalism classmates, a new study shows journalism students still perform strongly.

"High School Journalism Matters," a study conducted by Jack Dvorak of Indiana University and released by the Newspaper Association of America, showed journalism students had a higher high school grade point average, ACT composite score, and higher scores in ACT English, compared to non-journalism students. Journalism students also had a higher college freshman GPA and did better in their first college English classes.

"I'm very pleased that the results are very similar as a general rule to the results we had about 25 years ago," Dvorak said. "Journalism kids continue to do one part of the study, they did better in 12 out of 14 comparisons."

Of the 31,175 student respondents, 6,137 were on their school newspaper or yearbook. Not only did these journalism students do better in the classroom, they were also more likely to be involved in extra curricular activities or take a leadership position at school.

The statistics speak strongly on journalism's behalf. For example:

-First year college GPAs are higher for students with high school journalism experience (2.80 vs. 2.73 GPA).
- 31.6 percent of journalism students were involved in student government, compared to 17.6 percent of non-journalists.
- Journalism students had a higher English GPA compared to non-journalism students (3.52 vs. 3.37). GPAs were also higher in math, social studies, science, foreign language and art.

Candace Perkins Bowen, the director of the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University, is pleased--but not surprised--by the results.

"It's encouraging to see research shows what those of us involved with student journalists have known all along: These are sharp kids who do well in school and beyond," Bowen said. "I hope the media write widely about these results and thus administrators and parents may realize high school publications have much more potential than what some might think. Being on a staff is a plus to those students and to the entire school and community."

Cheryl Pell, executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association, echos these thoughts.

"At a time when schools are cutting journalism programs because of NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and the movement to trimesters to get in new, stricter graduation requirements, I hope this study will be sent to every administrator, principal and school board member,"
Pell said. "We in journalism have always known how valuable our curriculum is and all that it does to create strong students and responsible citizens, and this updated study acts to strengthen our stance."

Student media helps students learn a variety of skills, and the survey supports this notion, said Shawn Healy, resident scholar of the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum.

"Youth journalism teaches students strong research, writing, and verbal communication skills, while also helping them acquire general knowledge on a whole range of topics related to the broader academic curriculum," Healy said. "The NAA Foundation study findings further justify the universal existence of student newspapers and yearbooks at the secondary level."

One question that could be raised: do students do better because they are in journalism, or does journalism naturally attract stronger pupils?

"The study shows relationships and a strong pattern of success, it doesn't necessarily mean journalism has caused it, but it means journalism is a variable that is very important to these students' lives, which leads to enrichment of these students' lives," Dvorak said. "It gives them opportunities to use these skills such as critical thinking, making judgments having priorities, working with other students for a common goal, working with adults such as printers, and so on."

The study was conducted by utilizing responses from the student profile section of the ACT. Dvorak conducted a similar study, "Journalism Kids do Better" in 1987, finding similar results to the 2008 study.

Read the official press release for more details
Download the executive summary
Download a mp3 about the study with Sandy Woodcock, director of the NAA Foundation

Newseum opens its doors

With reports coming from dozens of media outlets, the news museum--or Newseum--is now open in Washington D.C. The New York Times has more on the $600 million attraction, while USA Today takes readers from floor to floor with an interactive graphic and video tour.

Calif. Senate panel OKs bill to protect advisers

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, April 10, 2008

(04-09) 16:13 PDT SACRAMENTO -- A state Senate committee has approved a San Francisco lawmaker's proposed legal protections for high school and college journalism teachers after hearing instructors' complaints of retaliation for hard-hitting articles in student newspapers.

"Allowing a school administration to censor in any way is contrary to the democratic process and the ability of a student newspaper to serve as the watchdog," Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said after the Judiciary Committee sent his bill to the Senate floor Tuesday.

The measure, SB1370, would prohibit school officials from punishing teachers for allowing students to publish articles that are covered by California's guarantee of freedom of the press on campus. Teacher and student organizations and labor unions support the bill, while the Association of California School Administrators opposes it.

i>Read the full story at the San Francisco Chronicle website.

llinois Press Association, IHSA, reach agreement

SPRINGFIELD, IL (April 8, 2008) - The Illinois Press Association and the Illinois High School Association announced today they have reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed over IHSA's attempt to control access to high school championship events and the secondary use by newspapers of images from those tournaments.

"It's over. They can't control how we do business. End of story," IPA executive director Dave Bennett said announcing today's agreement. The court settlement is a binding agreement that is not subject to political or administrative changes, and the court where the case was filed will retain the authority to enforce the settlement agreement.

According to the lawsuit's settlement agreement, newspaper photographers will not be restricted from covering state high school tournament events, and the secondary use of photographs and video from those events will not be regulated by IHSA.

Read the full story at the National Press Photographers Association website

Remembering Dr. King . . . & the First Amendment

April 3, 2008

This week, Americans will pay tribute to the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr's untimely death by honoring his legacy with school assemblies, community programs and national tributes. Yet few if any of us will, at this crucial time in our nation's history, directly connect Dr. King's heroism and accomplishments to his faith in -- and use of -- our primary tools of democracy, the freedoms of the First Amendment.

This is a missed opportunity. More so than any other part of our Constitution, our laws or our civic principles as a nation, the five freedoms of the First Amendment -- religion, speech, press, assembly and petition -- embody what it means to be an American. Properly understood and applied, they allow us to expand the promise of freedom more fairly and fully to succeeding generations of Americans, and forge unity in the interest of our diversity, instead of at the expense of it.

Despite its importance, most Americans pay the First Amendment little mind. In fact, based on the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Future of the First Amendment survey (, nearly three-fourths of students say they either don't know how they feel about the First Amendment or take it for granted. The First Amendment Center reports that roughly four in ten Americans cannot name a single freedom. And many of us believe the First Amendment exists solely to protect our right to say whatever we want.

This week, the anniversary of Dr. King's death provides an opportunity to remember both what the First Amendment demands of us as citizens, and also what is possible when we exercise those rights responsibly in the cause of justice and freedom for all.

Consider the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the iconic 1963 rally that introduced King's "I Have a Dream" speech to white America -- he had delivered those lines to black audiences many times before -- and produced the most poignant petition for redress of grievances in our nation's history. Nearly every American is familiar with King's speech that day. Many of us were asked to memorize it as students. But few if any of us were also taught about that day -- and the movement -- in the specific context of our democratic principles as a nation.

Recall that the march occurred as Congress was wrestling with whether or not to pass President Kennedy's civil rights program. Recall that young people across the country were being jailed for peacefully assembling to protest the South's policies of institutional racism. And recall that the quality of our national conversation was still so rudimentary that in the days and weeks before the march, white journalists peppered black commentators with what today seems like a shockingly naïve question -- "What is it that Negroes really want?"

King and the other leaders of the movement understood that the best way to counter such naïveté and willful ignorance was by utilizing their First Amendment freedoms to appeal to the nation's conscience. So on August 28 they presented a program that celebrated America's commitment to religious liberty, beginning with an invocation from the Archbishop of Washington and featuring remarks from the president of the American Jewish Congress; they relied on the press to broadcast images of the massive assembly -- ABC and NBC even broke away from their regularly scheduled afternoon soap operas to join CBS and broadcast King's speech in its entirety; and they petitioned for change with emotional appeals to, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, "the better angels of our nature."

Nearly a decade of protest and activism reached its symbolic pinnacle when hundreds of thousands of Americans of all colors gathered in the shadow of Lincoln, in the centennial year of the Emancipation Proclamation, to petition the Congress to establish 1963, in the words of organizer Roy Wilkins, "as the year racial discrimination was ended.”

The rest is history, and yet both the glory of that day and its unfulfilled promise provide powerful mandates for principals, parents and teachers. As King said forty years ago today -- the night before he was struck down by a sniper's bullet at the age of 39 -- the future of democracy is always only as secure as the commitment of its youngest citizens. "In 1960," he preached, "when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters… I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution."

As much or more than anyone in recent American history, King had a profound understanding of the principles found in this nation's "great wells of democracy." And at the heart of his work was an appeal to all Americans to live up to our nation's guiding principles and ideals.

Sam Chaltain is the founding director of the Five Freedoms project (, and the co-author of First Freedoms: A Documentary History of First Amendment Rights in America (Oxford University Press, 2006). E-mail:

Indianapolis Star editor speaks out on free speech

By Dennis Ryerson
Indianapolis Star Editor/Vice President

Some of our more cherished values can be the most nettlesome. This week's example: freedom of speech.

As Star readers know by now, language in a legislative bill that quietly sneaked through the General Assembly in the waning days of this year's session was aimed at one segment of the book-selling community but very well could ensnare the entire village.

In their attempt to limit adult bookstores that are sprouting along freeways near rural communities, lawmakers have created justifiable unease for other booksellers and headaches for state officials charged with enforcing a standard the law doesn't clearly define.

Read the full column at

Express-News runs student journalism package

How high schools are clamping down on student journalists

Copyright 2008 San Antonio Express-News, reprinted with permission.

Express News

The San Antonio Express-News recently ran a two-page package on student expression in high schools. J-Ideas is proud to re-present this material.

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Clark High School student Matthew Garcia's online extra

Apply for Five Freedoms Leadership Academy

Applications for the inaugural Five Freedoms Leadership Academy (July 7-11, 2008 at the Newseum in Washington, DC) are now due by no later than Friday, April 4. This leaves just over a week for all prospective candidates to declare their candidacy.

Co-sponsored by the First Amendment Center, the Five Freedoms Project, and Stanford University's School Redesign Network, the Academy's purpose is to equip a select group of K-12 principals with an actionable framework for collaborative leadership that is grounded in democratic principles.

Applications and further information about the Academy are now available online at, along with a sneak preview of our soon-to-be-launched online community of educators, students and citizens committed to First Amendment freedoms, democratic schools, and the idea that young people should be seen and heard.

If you have questions about the Academy or the application itself, please contact me directly, either via email or phone (703 851 7826).

Thanks in advance for your shared commitment to public schools and democratic principles.

With kind regards,

Sam Chaltain
Five Freedoms Project
One Nation. Many Voices.

ACLU pushing school to let students print poll

Associated Press - March 20, 2008 11:04 AM ET

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union is backing Amherst students who say their middle school newspaper was censored because of poll results showing negative feelings toward administrators.

Read the full story at

Illinois high school to remove newspaper adviser

© 2008 Student Press Law Center

March 17, 2008

ILLINOIS -- A veteran teacher who refused to resign her post as newspaper adviser for Naperville Central High School said she was told by administrators today that this will be her last year as adviser and journalism teacher.

The removal comes amid Principal Jim Caudill's decision to review the Central Times editorial policy after he said a February newspaper spread on marijuana use "seemed to glorify drug use" and use unnecessary profanity.

"We're concerned about the safety and welfare of our students," he said.

Linda Kane, who has been the Central Times adviser for 19 years, said administrators disapproved of comments she made in a March 7 article in a local commercial newspaper, the Daily Herald, in which she defended the staff's use of profanity and decision to run the articles. She told the Daily Herald that school administrators "don't know squat" about First Amendment law.

Read the full story at the Student Press Law Center


School newspaper adviser forced out
Teacher criticized Naperville principal

By Ted Gregory

Tribune reporter

10:37 PM CDT, March 18, 2008

Since becoming adviser to Naperville Central's high school newspaper almost 20 years ago, Linda Kane has forged two distinct reputations. One brought national glory to what had been a moribund publication. The other got her fired.

Kane, who took over the Central Times in 1989, developed the monthly newspaper into one of the best in the U.S., earning nine National Scholastic Press Association Pacemakers. That award is given annually to the top 20 to 25 high school papers in the nation.

She also was known for being candid. But she became a little too outspoken for Naperville Unit School District 203 administrators early this month when she publicly criticized her principal after the newspaper published three controversial pieces Feb. 28. On Monday, after Kane declined administrators' request that she resign, they fired her as newspaper adviser.

"It started out as a 1st Amendment issue and then it exploded," Kane said Tuesday. "Basically, I'm standing up for what I believe is right. I would never sugarcoat things."

Read the full story at the Chicago Tribune

Ball State hosting Sunshine Week panel on Thursday

By Megan Chance J-Ideas

In conjunction with Sunshine Week, a Ball State University professor of telecommunications will moderate a panel on Thursday discussing open access laws and freedom of information.

"The American people have the same freedoms to obtain information as professional journalists and it is important that they are aware of their right to know," said former foreign correspondent and Ball State University professor Phil Bremen.

Sunshine Week, created by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, seeks to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy.

The panel includes Iraqi filmmaker and Ball State graduate student, Dr. Omer Salih Mahdi; Public Access Counselor for the state of Indiana, Heather Willis Neal; General Counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, Steve Key; and Warren Watson, Director of J-Ideas.

"Freedom of information is vital, and Sunshine Week is a way to spread its importance," Watson said.

Bremen said Mahdi, a medical doctor, will show a clip from his film, "Baghdad Hospital" and will discuss his observations that U.S. citizens tend to take freedom of press for granted.

"American journalists have a big amount of freedom, even more than anywhere else in the world," Mahdi said.

Bremen emphasized the importance of a transparent government.

"It is to every citizen's benefit to be aware of what's going on," Bremen said. "Newspapers won't keep investing time to investigate information if the public doesn't care."

Sunshine Week evolved from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors' Sunshine Sunday initiative, which first appeared in Florida in 2002 and then expanded into several states.

The proposal for Sunshine Week came at a 2003 ASNE Freedom of Information summit. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the first nationwide Sunshine Week took place March 13-19, 2005.

RTNDF student winners announced

The Radio and Television News Directors Association has announced the winners of its "Five Freedoms" contest, a series of student-produced public service announcements about the First Amendment. Watch the videos here

Golden State pushing adviser protections

The California state senate is developing a bill that would protect advisers' rights. See the San Jose Mercury News for more.

J-Ideas participates in Peter Jennings project

For the second year in a row, J-Ideas, Ball State's First Amendment institute, was represented on the teaching faculty at a national constitutional project in Philadelphia.

Warren Watson and Gerry Appel of the J-Ideas staff conducted First Amendment training at the Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution at the National Constitution Center.

Over two days, Jennings, longtime ABC News anchor and reporter, was remembered by more than 100 friends, students, teachers, journalists and jurists.

Watson and Appel conducted three First Amendment workshops attended by 70 high school students and their teachers from all over the country.

Jennings was a Canadian. But a love of American ideals and the principles of the Constitution led him to seek U.S. citizenship shortly before he died of cancer in 2005. His friends and colleagues developed the Peter Jennings Project in his honor.

"The United States is the only nation in the world founded on creed," Jennings wrote shortly before his death. "Being American is not a matter of birth. It is an ideological commitment."

Watson and Appel joined a Jennings faculty that included luminaries such as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ABC News journalist Lynn Sherr, "Blackhawk Down" author Mark Bowden, and NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg.

Participants included several justices from courts of appeal, law school deans, reporters from major newspaper and magazines and television reporters and anchors.

Y-Press seeking student input

Indianapolis, Ind. -- When Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John Kennedy, recently endorsed Barack Obama, she said one of the reasons was her three teenaged children who began “convincing" her last year. And while Caroline Kennedy's children cannot vote, the momentum of this year's election is infecting their age group.
In light of this political enthusiasm, Y-Press, a youth-media organization, is trying to explore the younger-than-voting-age factor. The Indianapolis-based youth journalists have created two surveys to learn what kids under 18 think about the important issues and candidates of the 2008 election.
The surveys touch on questions such as: Are this year's presidential candidates reaching out to young? How has user-generated content affected this year's election?

For the full press release, click here (Microsoft Word file)

Speakers disagree about health of First Amendment

By Warren Watson
J-Ideas Director

INDIANAPOLIS -- The state's governor and the editor of the state's largest newspaper yesterday disagreed about the state of the First Amendment while speaking at a student journalism symposium sponsored by the Indiana High School Press Association at the State House Rotunda.

Gov. Mitch Daniels, keynote speaker at the First Amendment Symposium before a crowd of 200 high school students, teachers and others, said the First Amendment "is in good shape, better than ever." He said the Internet and cable television have created niche stations, blogs and other forms of online speech that allow citizens to reach new audiences.

But Dennis Ryerson, editor of The Indianapolis Star, said some state institutions are moving to restrict free speech. He cited the recent attempts by the Indiana High School Athletic Association to restrict how news organizations can use photographs taken at IHSAA-sanctioned sports events.

J-Ideas education specialist interviewed by AP

As one student newspaper at a private university faces censorship, J-Ideas education specialist Gerry Appel is interviewed by the Associated Press Chicago to share his views.

Indiana governor to speak at First Amendment event

By Megan Chance J-Ideas

INDIANAPOLIS--For the second consecutive year, Gov. Mitch Daniels will address a symposium focused on First Amendment freedoms, according to Diana Hadley, executive director of the Indiana High School Press Association.

At last year's event, organized by the IHSPA, Daniels warned student journalists that the "First Amendment is not for the faint of heart" and referred to the State House as the "temple of the First Amendment."

This year's First Amendment Symposium will be hosted in the North Atrium at the Indiana State House on March 4, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The First Amendment Symposium is free to the public and neither tickets nor reservations are required. Public parking is available near the State House. Further questions about parking can be directed to Hadley at (317) 738-8199 or at

Hadley explains the symposium helps support essential freedoms in America.

"(We created the symposium) to develop awareness that the First Amendment is a very special part of Democracy, but you have to keep it healthy," Hadley said. "By educating students (about their First Amendment rights), we have a better chance of keeping it strong."

Last year, Hadley, organized the inaugural First Amendment Symposium. Three hundred journalism students, teachers, administrators and Gov. Mitch Daniels attended the event.

"I worry about students' rights," Hadley says, "This is a chance to make a situation I worry about a little better."

For Hadley, the First Amendment Symposium is an additional way to educate students about their First Amendment rights.

This year's symposium will present The First Amendment Education and Civic Responsibility Panel. This panel will be moderated by RTV6's Rafael Sanchez. Also on the program: Indiana University Professor Jack Dvorak, author of “Journalism Kids Do Better;" John Krull, Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union; Dennis Ryerson, Editor and Vice President of The Indianapolis Star and Warren Watson, Director of J-Ideas.

In addition to the panel of speakers, four college students who were previously editors of their high school newspapers will open each segment of the event with thoughts on their experiences as student journalists. The First Amendment Symposium will focus on truth, courage, integrity, and freedom, which are the four core values of IHSPA.

Terry Nelson, a journalism teacher at Muncie (Ind.) Central High School plans on taking at least 30 of her own students to this year's symposium.

"This event reminds kids that they have a voice too," Nelson says, "I think it is a very positive experience for them."

Jeff Dick, student editor of the Muncie Central High School newspaper and IHSPA state board student officer agreed.

"Students should go to the symposium because it's important for students to understand their rights given to them by the First Amendment."

Chuck Muston, principal of Mooresville (Ind.) High School, plans on attending, citing the symposium's importance.

"It is one thing to read about it and another to experience it," Muston said. "If students can draw from personal experiences, it makes the learning process that much more effective."

During the event a tribute will also be read in honor of the late David Adams. Adams was a national leader for press freedom for student journalists and he served as a publisher and director of the Indiana Daily Student and the Arbutus yearbook for 18 years.

J-Ideas teams up with McCormick Tribune Foundation

J-Ideas, a national First Amendment institute housed in the Ball State University Department of Journalism, is hosting a one-day seminar, "Scholastic Partnership for the First Amendment," for representatives from Chicago-area schools.

The event, funded by a grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation, is being held Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the Freedom Museum in downtown Chicago.

J-Ideas and the McCormick Tribune Foundation have brought together a variety of journalism and First Amendment experts to lead seminars among participating schools. Each school is sending a journalism adviser, an administrator, and several students.

J-Ideas Director Warren Watson and Assistant Director Angela Thomas are leading the day's seminars along with:

• Sam Chaltain, executive director, Five Freedoms Project • Linda Puntney, executive director. Journalism Education Association • Randy Swikle, retired journalism adviser and former Dow Jones Journalism Teacher of the year.

During the five-hour seminar, groups will discuss different case studies focused on First Amendment scenarios in schools, and will develop action plans to help the First Amendment thrive inside the schoolhouse gates.

"Scholastic Partnership for the First Amendment" continues J-Ideas' mission to create a better First Amendment atmosphere in schools. J-Ideas achieves this goal through several initiatives, including an online distance learning course in Teachers College for principals and administrators, educational DVDs and websites, and previous seminars.

Feb. 14 update: Accord reached over newspaper

Staff writer

Originally printed in the Daily Journal

Feb. 14, 2008

Two words made an issue over content in a student newspaper bigger than Craig McCaffrey wanted it to be.

The Franklin Community High School principal learned what the term "prior review" meant to student journalists and is now working with them to resolve their dispute.

For three hours Wednesday, McCaffrey, The Electron editor-in-chief Ricci Warwick and the school's yearbook editor came to terms on how to cover controversial issues, such as sex, in student publications.

Both sides walked away from the meeting comfortable with what they thought was an amicable solution on how to cover what they termed "hot-button topics."

Part of the resolution does not include his reading or editing stories before they are published, McCaffrey said.

The students and the principal said they will make the details of the resolution public early next week when both sides finalize some language issues.

"I learned the impact of the two words, 'prior review.' I've never been in journalistic circles. If I would have known what the impact of those words were, this probably wouldn't have been (that) major of a deal or a knee-jerk response to it as I think there has been," McCaffrey said.

He said if he would have approached it as an educational issue that he wanted to discuss with the staff, then the press wouldn't have reported on it and it would have been taken care of in-house quickly.

He compared the consequence of the words to student journalists to how people react to shocking, tragic news.

"That's how extreme I think those two words are to student journalists. I really think it is a gasp, going down the hill of a roller coaster, scary, just oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-those-words," McCaffrey said. "One thing Ricci even said was she didn't think I knew the impact of those words, and I didn't."

McCaffrey and Warwick still disagree on if he should have the right to review the newspaper, but that is not the point anymore, he said. Now they just want to agree on a process on how to cover controversial topics that will satisfy both sides, he said.

McCaffrey and the newspaper staff were at odds over a Jan. 16 package on safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases, which caused McCaffrey to consider prior review.

Before any request was made to the school board to approve prior review as a policy, the principal and editors from the student newspaper and yearbook decided to reach common ground.

"I think a lot of people within these kind of conflicts need to realize is that we as journalists know the lingo. We know the language. They as administrators aren't as versed in that, and I think that can cause a lot of problems," Warwick said.

Indiana High School Press Association director Diana Hadley moderated the meeting and said she was impressed with both sides and confident that they would reach an agreement.

For the most part, the guidelines they set for covering controversial issues simply reiterated good reporting, Hadley said.

"Both sides listened to each other very well and began to work on a process for covering controversial topics that will provide all of the coverage and expression that they want and not stifle the student's ability to do that," Hadley said.

"A lot of it is good reporting in general - using multiple sources and having fresh eyes look at it and that kind of thing. I'm really optimistic that this is going to have an ending that is satisfactory to both Mr. McCaffrey and the kids."

Warwick said the student newspaper has always tried to meet a high reporting standard and will continue to do so.

"It's what we strove to do this entire time, so I guess it's just meeting high expectations in general is something that he wants which is what we've been trying to do," Warwick said.

She said she felt that the guidelines from the meeting won't change the way the newspaper is run.

The idea of prior review is not off the table yet, because McCaffrey doesn't want to speak for any administrator or board member considering that option, he said.

At Monday night's board meeting, board president John Wales told Warwick that he hoped the issue could be resolved at the high school level before the board became involved.

McCaffrey and Warwick will present the school board with their resolution during March's meeting. McCaffrey will seek advice from administrators on how to implement the resolution, he said.

McCaffrey's main concern during the meeting was balancing his responsibility as principal with what is covered in the newspaper, he said.

He said he discussed the educational value of articles, the role of adviser in the classroom, the potential overall impact for stories on students and covering the needs of issues that impact students.

The students' main concern was standing by their assertion that the newspaper should be uncensored and written for their fellow students and not other community members, Warwick said.

"If we're going to educate our entire student body about (what) we called a hot-button topic, there are certain things that need to be done in order to do that responsibly. The process we're trying to develop balances out my concerns with the (staff's) concern and addresses what we both want but is something we can live with," McCaffrey said.

The students and principal chose the right path to settle issue between themselves, instead of prolonging the argument through the school board or in court, Hadley said.

"I thought it was probably educational what they did rather than just choosing up sides and deciding that there was no way to come together," Hadley said. "I don't really think that it's going to fall apart. I think they're headed in a positive direction."

>>Indianapolis Star: Franklin High journalists, principal at odds
>>Tom Gayda blogs about censorship in high schools at the Indystar's First Thoughts.

Feb. 13 update: Students, principal to talk

Staff writer

Originally printed in the Daily Journal

Feb. 13, 2008

Franklin's principal and student journalists are trying to reach common ground over the issue of newspaper content.

After Principal Craig McCaff-rey and staff members of The Electron disagreed over the appropriateness of a package of articles about safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases, the sides will meet this afternoon to settle the issue and determine how to approach similar articles in the future.

McCaffrey at first considered asking the school board to implement a prior review process with the student newspaper under which he or another administrator would read the entire publication before it is printed.

The staff members called it a form of censorship and worried it would hinder their education about the freedom of the press.

But now McCaffrey wants to settle the issue at the high school level instead of seeking prior review.

"We're hoping we can kind of set a standard for how school administrators and journalists can work together in the future," McCaffrey said. "My main purpose is that if we're educating students by an article, that there are certain criteria that is met, or if there is a controversial issue, there are certain things that are taken into consideration."

He doesn't have the details of proposed guidelines yet but said he would use an adult in administering those guidelines.

McCaffrey, newspaper editor-in-chief Ricci Warwick and the yearbook's editor will meet to discuss guidelines.

"I really want to hear his point of view and from there establish basically if that's OK with us or not. If it involves anything with censorship, then it's not going to fly, I guess," Warwick said. "We were going to try and come to a compromise, but that doesn't mean we will compromise our goals."

Indiana High School Press Association director Diana Hadley will moderate the meeting.

"After talking to me and then talking to them, (Hadley) doesn't think we're very far apart on what we want," McCaffrey said.

Warwick said she doesn't see a problem with McCaffrey working with students before stories are written by giving advice on angles to take but isn't comfortable with him or any other school official editing or censoring the content.

The prior review process can become risky for school administrators, said Franklin College professor Dennis Cripe, who was director of the Indiana High School Press Association for 14 years.

When an administrator is allowed prior review of a student newspaper, that administrator becomes the editor of the publication and is responsible for any possible libel or obscenity printed in the newspaper.

"As long as students are making those content decisions, it really protects the school," Cripe said. "If he misses something, good luck. That's why you hire an adviser, and that's why he shouldn't have to worry about content. That's not his job, and that shouldn't be his concern."

McCaffrey said he doesn't have to be the person who makes sure students are meeting guidelines but he wants adult and professional supervision over controversial articles.

"I never had the intent of reviewing the entire paper," he said. "My whole purpose was not to create a process where I would be the person who did it, but I'm not saying that was totally ruled out."

Warwick added, "He threw around (prior review) a lot, and I'm not sure he knew what it meant. He's a really busy man. He doesn't have time to go through our entire paper every month, and I don't think he wants to, but I think we can come up with some kind of compromise."

The newspaper is advised by journalism teacher Carmen Mann-Lynch, who proofreads the final copy of the paper but has no control over its content, Warwick said.

She gives her opinion on issues only when asked and doesn't know of story content before she reads the paper, Warwick said.

McCaffrey would like an adult supervisor, such as the adviser, to go through a set of guidelines with the staff when they are covering a controversial issue like sex and be more involved in that process, he said. If that ends up being the journalism adviser, that is fine, McCaffrey said.

"If they do that all internally, I'm completely fine with that. But I want them thinking about it, and I do want an adult taking a look at it," he said.

Warwick doesn't have a problem with that idea, as long as the person administering those guidelines is educated in journalism.

"That's good educationally as long as it's someone in journalism. If it's the adviser, I'd be OK with that, but not any other teacher," she said.

Once the guidelines are agreed upon, then McCaffrey will see how the administration wants to review them, he said.

Warwick spoke on behalf of her staff members at Monday night's school board meeting, reminding board members that the newspaper had been a public forum and student-run for more than 25 years.

If an administrator wanted to implement a prior review process, the school board would have to approve the policy.

Because the publication historically is uncensored as a public forum, the only way a school administrator could censor the content would be by proving that the publication or content would cause material disruption, said Frank LoMonte, lawyer and executive director for the Student Press Law Center.

An example of material disruption is when an article completely stops the normal operations of a school, such as an article advocating that every student stop going to class.

The school corporation's policy on student publication allows administrators to prohibit content that is not protected by the First Amendment, such as libel.

Warwick said that the purpose of the article was to inform and that the staff would be open to hearing the opinions of their principal and administrators on the content of the newspaper.

"However, under no circumstances will we censor the publication. It is a violation of an educational journalistic atmosphere," Warwick told the board.

No request was made by McCaffrey or other school officials to change the policy to allow prior review, and board president John Wales hoped that the issue would be settled before the March meeting.

"I feel confident, actually, with what (Warwick) said to us and knowing our administrators, that something is going to be worked out and there will be a positive resolution that everyone is going to be happy with," Wales said during the meeting.

McCaffrey, the newspaper staff and adviser should come up with a set of agreed upon standards for The Electron's content, Superintendent William Patterson said.

"The First Amendment is so important that I think that when dealing with teenagers who do not have the experience and opportunity to use judgment to the degree that they certainly will in the future, it's important that they have certain standards that are in place and that they are getting good guidance with the adults they work with," Patterson said.

When staff members and administrators create standards or guidelines for a student newspaper, an administration cannot have unlimited leeway to determine what stories are or aren't acceptable, LoMonte said.

Some rules or standards are legally off-limits, LoMonte said.

"One thing that is very clear under the law is that no school can impose what is called viewpoint discrimination.

"It is never proper for a school to say, for example, only stories or only columns or only editorials that oppose abortion will be printed and not those that advocate pro-choice. It's never permissible to say that the point of view expressed by the speaker will be the basis for whether the article runs or not," LoMonte said.

However, school officials can deem certain subjects too complicated or mature for a young audience, LoMonte said. But school officials would be hard pressed to prove certain topics too mature for high school students.

"Frankly, it's pretty hard in today's culture to come up with a list of very many issues that teenagers already haven't been exposed to," he said. "For example, there are schools that will attempt to say there can't be any mention of teenage pregnancy at all in the newspaper. Well, that's not reasonable, because it's a fact of life that's well known by all teenagers by the time they reach high school."

Most cases over forms of censorship are settled between the newspaper staff and principals before policies have to be changed or be settled in court, LoMonte said.

"It is usually the case that when school administrators realize they may be on shaky legal grounds they come to terms with the students and the faculty, and they work it out amicably," he said.

Four school board members didn't have an opinion on the issue, but school board member Douglas Bullington said his first impression is that he has a hard time understanding why McCaffrey can't be responsible for the newspaper when he is responsible for every other aspect of the school.

"I see the principal being ultimately responsible for all of the activities that happen in his building, and I would feel much more comfortable saying that you have the right and the authority to be involved in those activities," he said.

Bullington said he would be comfortable with McCaffrey reviewing the content of the newspaper before it's published.

"I'm comfortable with that just as I'm comfortable with him being able to review the behavior of a high school basketball coach or being able to review the conduct of a teacher in his building. What he does or how he implements his authority, he has to be able to and that's what has not been presented," Bullington said.

McCaffrey said he was surprised at how quickly the issue circulated around the community and state. Now both sides want to settle the issue on their own terms.

"I don't want this to be some huge thing if it doesn't have to be," Warwick said. "We can all work something out, and that's fine as long as both parties are OK with it. I don't want to compromise what I think is right and he doesn't want us to."


Do students have First Amendment rights?

Yes. The First Amendment prohibits government officials from restraining speech but does not prevent censorship by school officials at private schools.

Can high school officials censor some school-sponsored publications?

A 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Hazelwood (Mo.) School District v. Kuhlmeier, allowed public school officials greater authority to censor publications. However, the ruling doesn't apply to publications that have been opened as a "public forum," such as The Electron; and it also requires school officials to demonstrate reasonable educational justification before they censor anything.

Does the Hazelwood ruling apply to newspapers that have not been historically censored?

No. If a student publication is a public forum for student expression, students are allowed stronger First Amendment protection. School officials can censor the publication only if they can prove that it will cause material and substantial disruption to the operation of the school.

SOURCE: The Student Press Law Center

>>Indianapolis Star: Franklin High journalists, principal at odds
>>Tom Gayda blogs about censorship in high schools at the Indystar's First Thoughts.

Indiana student newspaper draws criticism

Staff writer

Originally printed in the Daily Journal

Feb. 9, 2008

Information about safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases printed by Franklin Community High School journalism students has their principal seeking the right to control what goes into the paper.

Spurred by misinformation about safe sex among their classmates, staff writers and editors decided to tackle the issue in their monthly newspaper, The Electron.

Principal Craig McCaffrey disagreed with the way the articles were written and the lack of information about abstinence, and he wants to implement a prior review process so he would be able to change or remove articles before publication.

Now staff members worry that after 25 years of uncensored high school journalism, the content of their newspaper will be at the whim of a school administrator, shortchanging their education in the freedom of the press.

The executive director of a national advocacy group for student free-press rights says McCaffrey would be limited in justifying censoring the newspaper

A two-page spread in the Jan. 16 issue includes a bold-typed message at the beginning of the first page stating: "Attention: Although sex is a common theme among teenagers, The Electron senses some students may not have the facts straight. We recognize that there are sexually active teens, and while we are not encouraging the behavior, we are emphasizing that those who make these choices must make them responsibly and with ample knowledge."

The spread also includes an article on the human papilloma virus, which can cause cervical cancer, and information about condom safety, myths and facts about sex, birth control and emergency contraceptive pills and facts about some sexually transmitted diseases.

The point of the articles was to educate students about safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases, not to promote any type of lifestyle, editor-in-chief Ricci Warwick said.

"I hope people keep an open mind and understand that we're not just using our facilities and our abilities to just do whatever we want," the senior said. "We've gone through Journalism 101. We know ethics. We know morals. And we all care about our students, and that's what we're doing this for."

McCaffrey had a list of reasons why he didn't agree with the article:

• It didn't include abstinence as an option

• It infringes on parents' ability and right to educate their children on sex.

• It didn't list a place for students to go for information if they had questions after reading the article.

• It bordered on an instructional book on how to have sex safely, instead of recommending abstinence.

• The way the stories were written did not meet a standard of acceptance.

• A story referenced Planned Parenthood but could have referenced school health teachers.

McCaffrey said it is appropriate for students to talk about safe sex in school but said that something that is mass-produced for all students to read concerns him.

"The facts were correct, and they're definitely issues that affect teens; but I thought that the information there wasn't necessarily put together in an appropriate manner," McCaffrey said.

The newspaper's adviser, Carmen Lynch-Mann, said the students determine the content of the newspaper. She teaches journalism classes. In addition, she proofreads the final copy of the paper and gives advice if asked, she said.

McCaffrey would not be legally allowed to censor an article just because he disagreed with the content, said Frank LoMonte, a lawyer and executive director of the Virginia-based Student Press Law Center.

Administrative censorship of high school student newspapers depends on whether the newspaper historically is student-run or not, he said. If the student newspaper is traditionally student-run and uncensored, like The Electron, then administrators will have a harder time censoring it, he said.

In order to censor a student newspaper like The Electron, the policy of prior review would have to be approved into the bylaws by the school board, and whenever administrators wanted to change or remove an article, they would have to show that the article would be a "material disruption" to the school, LoMonte said.

For example, administrators could cut an article advocating violence against a certain group of students. But they couldn't cut a story such as the one published in The Electron just because an administrator disagreed with the content, he said.

"You could certainly kill a story if the material was so graphic that it was completely inappropriate for a youthful audience. But just the fact that a story refers to sex or mentions sex in the climate of today's high school would not by itself be a justification for censoring it," LoMonte said. "Nothing short of a material disruption will justify censoring an article."

If the paper weren't traditionally solely controlled by students, administrators could censor articles if they showed that the article's material did not match the educational mission of the school, he said. But that rule does not apply to The Electron, LoMonte said.

McCaffrey said he wants to develop a process in which he and the staff work together on articles for the paper. If McCaffrey disagrees with the subject or presentation of an article, then he would be able to change parts or remove it entirely, he said.

He said he would base those decisions on community standards and what he thinks is appropriate, topics he and the staff would have to discuss. He said he isn't trying to determine what students can or can't print but wants to make sure they don't cross a line of inappropriate content.

"I would have been able to read this ahead of time. I wouldn't have stopped the article. I would have asked that some things be reworded or some things put in different ways that would have got it a little more appropriate," he said.

He said he would have cut one story printed earlier in the school year about dealing drugs in school. The story used as a source an unnamed student who talked about dealing drugs in school.

McCaffrey's concern was that if the student were arrested for dealing drugs, then the writer might face retribution.

But interfering with the publication of the press would be improper educationally, Warwick said.

"We really would like community support. This isn't just about being, 'Oh we don't want prior review because it's always been this way.' The reason why we're upset about this is because we believe it's hindering journalism educationally," she said.

Warwick leads a staff of about 30 photographers, graphic designers, editors and reporters who brainstorm story ideas in class to address student issues.

Whenever the staff is going to print an article that might be perceived as controversial, Warwick gives him a heads up per his request, McCaffrey said.

Warwick said she didn't think this package of articles would be inappropriate and has heard that only a few teachers and community members complained. In addition, she said several teachers and students praised them for the articles.

Lynch-Mann, the newspaper's adviser for 10 years, said she thought the students showed reasonable concern about their peers.

"Even though I try to avoid hearing in other classes or even in the hallway or the cafeteria what is going on (in students' private lives), what is happening with these children is not safe behavior," she said.

Lynch-Mann said she did not ask the students to speak out about the health concerns and was proud of her students and the way they presented the material.

McCaffrey said the students were good leaders in the school, but he wasn't sure that high school students should have the same free-press privileges as other journalists.

In the past, staff members have written articles about sex and sexually transmitted diseases and other controversial issues such as drugs without debate, Lynch-Mann said.

Bart Leonard, a senior graphic designer on the staff, worries that if the newspaper were censored, students would be less likely to become involved with the paper.

"Nobody wants to be censored at all. That might drive people away from trying it out," Leonard said. "I thought it was done as classy as possible and in an informative manner. I didn't expect (the controversy) coming, because I thought there would be no problem."

The staff writer of the article on the human papilloma virus said her intention was to educate students.

"I wanted to write about it a year ago because teen pregnancy is huge at our school and the HPV and Gardasil shot is new to the community," senior Kristy Peters said. "I thought teenage girls, including myself, and other teens would want to know about it, so that's why I wrote about it."

"Our goal was to inform," she said. "That's all it was."

School censors newspaper coverage of 'Truth'

An anti-smoking campaign, "Truth," running on the high school television network "Channel One" has one student newspaper questioning the campaign's slogan--"Whudafxup." And now school officials are censoring the student newspaper. Read about it at the Phoenix New Times.

First Amendment guide to candidates

With voters having to mull over countless issues in any election, one tends to wonder--how do candidates stand on the First Amendment? The San Francisco Chronicle has more.

Publishing company supporting First Amendment Days

Foundation News Lee Enterprises, Inc. Supports Greenlee School's "First Amendment Days" Celebration

02 Dec 2004 AMES, Iowa-- Iowa-based newspaper publishing company Lee Enterprises, Inc., Davenport, and the Lee Foundation have together pledged $80,000 to support Iowa State University's First Amendment Days events and activities. The celebration is sponsored by the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

Lee Enterprises, which owns five daily and several weekly newspapers in Iowa, has pledged $40,000 to support programming of the Greenlee School's annual spring celebration. The Lee Foundation will match the company's pledge.

Historically, First Amendment Day has been a campus-wide day of debate and lectures celebrating the five freedoms provided for in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: religion, speech, the press, assembly and petition.

This year the celebration will be held April 11-15, with one day set aside for each of those five freedoms. As part of the expanded celebration, the Greenlee School plans a statewide event and will coordinate efforts at public libraries and newspapers in the five Iowa cities Lee Enterprises publishes daily.

"We are deeply gratified by the generosity of Lee Enterprises and the Lee Foundation," said Greenlee School Director Michael Bugeja. "Their support will allow us to further promote an understanding of the First Amendment and the role of journalism and communication in all societies."

"The five Lee Enterprises daily newspapers in Iowa are delighted to become part of this new springtime tradition on the Iowa State campus," said Lisa Sievers, publisher of the Muscatine Journal and a member of the Advisory Council of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

"Lee Enterprises built its reputation on service to community," Sievers added. "You cannot serve communities without a free press, and our partnership with the Greenlee School recognizes that. This event calls attention to the rights that we enjoy and must safeguard. The best way to do that is to celebrate those rights, to showcase them in Ames and Lee Enterprises hometowns, reminding citizens about what makes our country open and free."

Prominent Greenlee School alums Terry Anderson, retired professor of journalism and a former Middle East hostage, and Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, have "come home" for past First Amendment Day events. Thousands of Iowa State students, faculty, alumni and community members also participate in such events as "Feast on the First Amendment," with the Greenlee School feeding visitors who congregate on campus to hear prominent speakers debate each other on soap boxes.

"Our celebration of the First Amendment focuses on the importance of free speech and community journalism," Bugeja noted. "The Greenlee School and Lee Enterprises share common values in that regard."

In Iowa, Lee Enterprises owns the Quad-City Times (Davenport), the Muscatine Journal, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, the Sioux City Journal and the Globe Gazette (Mason City). Lee also owns 33 other daily newspapers in the U.S., with a joint interest in six others, along with associated online services. The company also publishes about 200 weekly newspapers, shoppers and classified and specialty publications.

Funds from the Lee Enterprises portion of the gift will come from the company's five daily Iowa newspapers and weekly papers the Forest City Summit, the Britt Tribune and the Mitchell County Press.

The gifts from Lee Enterprises and the Lee Foundation were made to benefit Iowa State University through the Iowa State University Foundation -- a private, non-profit organization dedicated to securing and managing private gift support for Iowa's land-grant university.

-- 30 --

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Michael Bugeja, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, 515-294-0481 Dave Gieseke, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 515-294-7742 Lisa Sievers, Publisher, Muscatine Journal, 563-263-2331 Jason Menke, ISU Foundation, 515-294-5779

Fight continues between press, IHSA

As the Illinois High School Association finds itself in a lawsuit over photographers' access to games, one newspaper is speaking out against the IHSA.

JEA sets deadlines for awards

Do you have some outstanding seniors this year who plan to major in journalism? Did your students publish or broadcast stories that made an impact in your school or community? Does your school take the First Amendment seriously? Are you ready to take your professionalism as an adviser one step further? Do you see an 8th or 9th grader with an interest in journalism that would benefit a high school staff? If you said yes to any of these questions, take a look at the deadlines below.

These are all RECEIVED BY deadlines. If a deadline falls on a weekend, the entry will be accepted on Monday immediately following the date. (March 1 and 15 are on a Saturday this year so entries will be accepted on March 3 and 17 respectively.) You should allow 5-7 business days in the mail, especially if you're on either coast. Rules and application forms may be found in the orchid-covered awards booklet JEA members received in the fall or online at the links below.

Feb. 15 -- National High School Journalist of the Year

Scholarship competition for high school seniors planning to major in journalism/mass communications in college. This competition is open to students with talents in any medium: newspaper, yearbook, photography, broadcast, magazine, etc. Scholarships range from $2,000 to $5,000. Winners will be announced at the spring convention.

March 1 -- Student Journalist Impact Award

For print or broadcast students who brought change or impacted the school or community through a journalistic article, series of articles or broadcast. NOTE: The focus of essay and recommendation letters should be on the written/broadcast work that made the impact, NOT the individual(s) who created it. $1,000 award to the winner. Winner will be announced at the spring convention.

March 1 -- Cornerstone Award

This award recognizes two secondary schools that have shown their students, teachers and administration thoroughly understand the importance of the First Amendment. Entrants will demonstrate this understanding by conducting activities that promote knowledge of the First Amendment schoolwide. Award: $2,500 each to two schools to further support the First Amendment, plus travel to the spring convention for the school principal or other representative.

March 1 -- Certified Journalism Educator or Master Journalism Educator Certification

March 15 -- Aspiring Young Journalist Award

(for 8th grade students or 9th grade student if in a 7-9 middle school)
Award will be presented at the spring convention.

Other deadlines related to the Anaheim convention will be in the registration booklet that should be posted online soon.

Indianapolis teacher faces dismissal over book

An Indianapolis area teacher finds her job in jeopardy after using "The Freedom Writers Diary" as a classroom book. The book led to the 2007 feature film, "Freedom Writers." The teacher who inspired the movie, Erin Grunwell, worked with Perry Township Teacher Connie Heermann at a workshop and says she will support Heermann.

The book, written by Gruwell's former students, contains racial slurs and sexual content.

Heermann's dismissal hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7.

For more, visit

Student's Facebook protest draws attention

When a Virginia public school kept its doors open during a snow storm, one high school student took it upon himself to call the the home of the chief operating officer of the school system. The public official's wife returned his message with a terse voicemail of her own, which now resides on a Facebook page the 17-year-old developed. This circumstance has generated discussion on how students use their First Amendment rights in digital age. The Washington Post has more.

USA Today runs piece from McCormick Tribune

This letter to the editor appeared in the Jan. 17, 2008 edition of USA Today:

Reform election now

Shawn Healy, resident scholar, McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum - Chicago

Bob Beckel incorrectly calls for reform of the presidential nominating process after the conclusion of the 2008 election ("Does your vote matter?," Common Ground, The Forum, Jan. 10).

The problem with waiting until then is that the Republican and Democratic parties have different rules for altering their respective nominating schedules. While the Democratic National Committee can, and often does, make changes to the nominating process at any juncture, the Republican Party must adopt any alterations at its convention four years before the election that it governs.

Moreover, such changes must be acceptable to the presidential nominee. A failure to act at the Republican National Convention in September will foretell a repeat of this year's shortcomings in 2012.

A look at the 2000 campaign is particularly instructional. The Republican Party was all but set to adopt the so-called Delaware plan, similar to the rotating regional primary described in the Common Ground piece. It provided for the 12 smallest states to vote in March and three separate cohorts to follow each successive month. A candidate would not have been able to clinch the nomination until June, when a majority of delegates would still have been available as the largest states held their primaries.

This concept retains the admirable "retail politics" aspects of Iowa and New Hampshire and would avoid the frontloaded calendar and the protracted period between clinching party nominations and the general election that we're seeing this year.

Unfortunately, George W. Bush's camp scuttled the Delaware Plan for fear of a floor fight at the convention in 2000. The past eight years have served to further convolute the process.

The time for reform is now. Members of the Democratic and Republican rules committees met at a conference we hosted in Washington, D.C., last September with the Center for the Study of the American Electorate. Here's hoping the 2008 nominees are more hospitable to reforming a process that is failing voters and democracy.

Free training for high school journalism advisers

RESTON, Va. -- As part of its national effort to strengthen scholastic newspapers and spark a passion for journalism, the American Society of Newspaper Editors is seeking high school teachers for an expenses-paid, two-week summer institute. One hundred and seventy-five teachers will be selected to attend the Reynolds High School Journalism Institute, which will take place at five universities. The postmark deadline for applications is Feb. 29.

There is no cost to the teacher or high school.

Air transportation, lodging, meals, materials, tuition and three graduate or continuing education credits are covered by ASNE with a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Teachers from high schools that lack scholastic media or have struggling journalism programs are especially encouraged to apply. The Reynolds Institute will take place at five accredited journalism schools:

* Arizona State University, Tempe, June 15-27
* Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, July 6-18
* University of Nevada, Reno, July 13-26
* University of Texas at Austin, July 20-Aug. 1
* Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va., July 6-18

A brochure and application may be downloaded at this link.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

ASNE is the principal organization of the top editors at daily newspapers. Founded in 1922, ASNE focuses on professional development and journalism-related issues.

Hazelwood: conflict continues 20 years later

No court decision has had a greater impact upon scholastic journalism than the 1988 Supreme Court Case, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. This decision put censorship power into the hands of principals, who often misuse and abuse this power, mistakenly believing that they can censor for any reason. Richard Just, the deputy editor of the New Republic, shares his thoughts with the Washington Post on the twentieth anniversary of Hazelwood.

J-Ideas director interviewed by WRTV (ABC)

At a January Muncie City Council meeting, a concerned citizen was not allowed to speak on the subject of election fraud, prompting the crowd into frenzied chants of "Free speech! Free speech!" The incident has generated news coverage, including a broadcast package produced by WRTV (ABC) in Indianapolis. For WRTV's package, J-Ideas Director Warren Watson was interviewed to share his thoughts on this First Amendment issue. Click here to visit the WRTV Web site to watch the story.

J-Ideas teaching materials available

Looking for teaching materials? Then check out J-Ideas' newly archived teaching tools here. The materials cover writing, design, leadership and more.

Sign up now for J-Ideas/McCormick workshop

SCHOLASTIC PARTNERSHIP FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT: A Feb. 26 student media seminar for school principals, teachers and students Format and description: The principal plays a leadership role as the chief educator in a public school. Providing discipline and ensuring safety, the principal also mentors students, encouraging civility, respect, and openness for ideas. In the spirit of working closely with school principals to create a better First Amendment atmosphere in our public schools nationwide, J-Ideas, Ball State University's First Amendment institute -- along with the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum -- will be reviving a seminar format that was successful at two venues in 2005. The seminar will bring together teams from up to 12-15 high schools for facilitated discussions about student media and the First Amendment. Each seminar will accommodate up to 50 participants. How it will work: Participating schools will send their principal, the journalism teacher/media adviser and up to three students for a five-hour program. Teams must include an administrator. Lunch will be provided. The seminar is free and J-Ideas will reimburse travel expenses up to $100 per school. This seminar is eligible for CRU credit. Date: Feb. 26, 2008. 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Location: Freedom Museum, 435 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ill. 60611. Phone: 312-222-3512 Goal: To improve student media and First Amendment communication among principals,teachers and students. Curriculum: Each seminar will include discussion modules: • A discussion about student media and student appreciation about the First Amendment. • A school media-law update. • Case-study discussions about First Amendment problems and opportunities in the schoolplace. • Tailored sessions as time permits. • Goal-setting discussion for the individual schools. Previous seminars: J-Ideas successfully conducted this seminar on two occasions--once in Reston, Va. at the American Press Institute and at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Fla. Scheduled speakers: Includes Warren Watson, director, J-Ideas; Sam Chaltain, executive director, Five Freedoms Project; Linda Puntney, executive director, Journalism Education Association; Randy Swikle, retired journalism adviser, former Dow Jones Journalism Teacher of the Year --- Contact J-Ideas: Angela Thomas, assistant director, (1-765-285-8923)

ACLU backing Virginia student

The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a Virginia high school to apologize to a student who was threatened by her school after wearing a pro-lesbian t-shirt. Read the full story at the ACLU Web site.

Middle school settles with ACLU over dress code

A middle school whose dress code prevented students from wearing "Winnie the Pooh" socks, among other items, has reached a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union. Read the full story at the Times-Herald Web site.

Book with

A novel containing references to oral sex will remain on an Alabama school library's shelf, despite protests from the school board. Read about why books have a First Amendment protection at

Camera phones in the classroom

Before the modern information age, what happened in the classroom often stayed in the classroom. But what happens when students tape classroom events with camera phones and place the videos online? And what are the First Amendment implications of such occurances? The Press Enterprise has more.

'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' influencing 5th circuit

The "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case is being extended into the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing administrators to apply "zero tolerance" rules to some speech. Read more at the First Amendment Center Web site.

Send in your journalism success stories!

Diana Hadley, executive director of the Indiana High School Press Association, is collecting success stories in high school journalism from across the nation.

Hadley asks, "Please send stories of some of the positive differences the student newspaper has made in your high schools. We would like to collect those 'successes' as another way to measure the importance of scholastic journalism."

Stories can be e-mailed to Hadley at

American students reading less

American youths are reading less than previous generations, according to a new survey. Read the full story at Education Week.

What our students don't know can hurt them

Kathleen Parker, of the News-Press in southwest Florida, takes a look at students' First Amendment apathy.

School board looking settlement in "Bong Hits"

The school board in the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case is mulling over a settlement which could return the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on state, rather than federal issues. Read the full story at the Juneau Empire.

Columnist defends students' First Amendment rights

Students should have the right to express themselves without being demeaned by adults, says one Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist. Joel Connelly also takes a look back at media personality John Carlson speakling out against a student free expression bill in Washington state.

Read the column at the Seattle P-I Web site.

Seigenthaler, Paulson honored by API

Seigenthaler, Paulson Receive American Press Institute Lifetime Service Awards

Honored for Dedication to First Amendment

November 5, 2007

RESTON, Va. -- The American Press Institute (API) awarded two Lifetime Service Awards at its fall board meeting Oct. 29. The recipients were John Seigenthaler, the chairman and founder of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and Ken Paulson, the editor of USA TODAY. The award is given in recognition of individuals who have significantly supported and promoted the professional advancement and leadership training of newspaper professionals.

In particular, Seigenthaler and Paulson were recognized for the 90-minute First Amendment session--complete with a visit to the Newseum--which they developed 10 years ago and continue to provide for API's seminar attendees.

In her remarks prior to the presentation of the awards, API's vice president of programming and personnel, Carol Ann Riordan, said Seigenthaler and Paulson's class "has been THE highest rated session for Reston-based programs for the past 10 years. … [I]n just 90 minutes, [they] educate, engage, enlighten, and entertain seminar members. In a highly interactive format, they drive home the lessons and blessings of--as well as the threats to--one of our nation's most precious gifts -- the First Amendment."

A former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, John Seigenthaler served for 43 years as an award-winning journalist for The Tennessean, Nashville's morning newspaper. At his retirement he was editor, publisher and CEO. In 1982, Mr. Seigenthaler became founding editorial director of USA TODAY and served in that position for a decade, retiring from both the Nashville and national newspapers in 1991.

He retired from USA Today and The Tennessean in 1991 to found The First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Mr. Seigenthaler hosts a weekly book-review program, "A Word On Words." He is a senior advisory trustee of the Freedom Forum. He is chairman of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for the RFK Memorial and served on the National Commission on Federal Election Reform organized in 2001 by former presidents Carter and Ford. He is a member of the Constitution Project on Liberty and Security, created after the Sept. 11 tragedies in New York and Washington.

Ken Paulson was part of the team of journalists who founded USA TODAY in 1982, and in 2004 became the editor for USA TODAY and Before assuming that position he served as the executive director of the First Amendment Center, after having managed newsrooms in Westchester County, N.Y., Green Bay, Wis., Bridgewater, N.J., and at FLORIDA TODAY in Brevard County, Fla.

Mr. Paulson also was host of the Emmy-nominated television program "Speaking Freely," seen in more than 60 PBS markets nationwide over five seasons, and the author of "Freedom Sings," a multimedia stage show celebrating the First Amendment that continues to tour the nation's campuses.

Mr. Paulson is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law and the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He has served as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School and is a member of both the Illinois and Florida bars.

About the American Press Institute The American Press Institute is an independent educational center for providing skills-training and leadership development in the news industry, offering seminars and onsite programs for newspaper professionals.

Media Contact: Vicki Govro Communications Manager American Press Institute 11690 Sunrise Valley Drive Reston, VA 20191 703.715.3322

Prime Movers receives new grant

Prime Movers, a scholastic journalism group funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is receiving a $500,000 grant to continue work in Philadelphia schools. Read the full story at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Students entering contest for trip to Chicago

The McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum and J-Ideas are teaming up for "Seen and Heard: National Student Expression Contest."

Students are being asked to showcase their work through film, editorial cartoons, Web design and photojournalism. The top three entries from each category will be displayed in the 2008 Seen and Heard exhibit at the Freedom Museum in Chicago.

Last year, both organizations sponsored an editorial cartoon contest. This year, the contest was expanded to include film, Web design and photojournalism categories.

The first place winner from each category will win a $500 cash award, and roundtrip airfare and accommodations to attend the Seen and Heard exhibit opening and award ceremony. Each first place winner's teacher or adviser will also win $500.

The "Best in Show" winner will be awarded the Mary Beth Tinker Award for outstanding student expression. Tinker sued her school after being sent home for wearing a black armband to protest the Vietnam War. She eventually won her case at the Supreme Court.

Shawn Healy, a resident scholar at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, explains the importance of this contest.

"In an era where ‘bong hit' references are banned in high school hallways, ‘Seen and Heard' gives students a voice beyond the schoolhouse gate. From editorial cartoons to film, from web design to photography, student work will be ‘seen' in the halls of the Freedom Museum, and their message with be ‘heard' by visitors loud and clear."

All entries must be postmarked by Feb. 18, 2008. Download the flyer or entry form.

Sorrell honored by journalism groups

Amy Sorrell, former adviser at Woodlan Jr./Sr. High School (Fort Wayne, Ind.), is receiving the 2007 Courage in Student Journalism Award, presented by the Newseum, the Student Press Law Center and the National Scholastic Press Association. To read more about Sorrell's honor, click here or click here for J-Ideas' collection of Sorrell coverage.

Illinois press suing high school association

The Illinois Press Association is filing a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association after having limited access to school sporting events.

Read the full story at the Pantagraph

Iowa principal makes wrong move

By Gerry Appel


The Little Hawk is facing big problems.

The student newspaper at Iowa City High School, which has received oodles of state and national journalism awards, finds itself in First Amendment crossfire, after Principal Mark Hanson pulled copies of the newest edition out of students' hands. Hanson said he was concerned that three separate verbal arguments between students would have escalated into violence, with a Little Hawk front page story serving as the catalyst.

The offending story reported a newspaper survey taken by 250 students, revealing that 2 percent of respondents have an unfavorable view toward white students, and 13 percent view black students unfavorably. Student editor Adam Sullivan told the Gazette newspaper that Hanson did see the story ahead of time, and asked for the story to be removed. Sullivan also told the Iowa City Press-Citizen that Hanson "didn't tell anybody" when he pulled the papers.

If you are a supporter of the First Amendment, then this incident is another example of a principal silencing the student voice. What makes this particular instance so scary is that Iowa is one of seven states boasting student free expression laws, yet the directive was not enough to protect the student newspaper. While these laws do not make it impossible to censor the student media, the law requires administrators to abide by several requisites. Administrators can step in if student expression is obscene, libelous or slanderous. In Iowa, student newspapers also cannot encourage students to "commit unlawful acts," "violate lawful school regulations," or "cause the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school."

In plain English, the law says, "there shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official school publications except when the material violates this section." So, what happened in Iowa City?

Did several verbal altercations between students really fall under the "material and substantial disruption" clause in the student expression code? Hard to say for sure, but perhaps Hanson overreacted. Calling the students into his office to mediate the problem would have been a good alternative to silencing the voice of the student newspaper. And that seems to be the issue with many situations of censorship--school officials attack the newspaper instead of the issue at hand. Does Iowa City High School have a problem with racism? That's not for me to say. But looking at race relations would certainly be a more appropriate response than confiscating the student newspaper.

John Bowen, of the Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Commission, agrees that Hanson is misdirecting his efforts.

"It is not the papers or the student journalists or their comments that created the situation," Bowen said. “It seems they did nothing to heighten any tensions or make any threats."

Iowa City High School should now take advantage of this situation and use recent developments as a learning opportunity. With dialogue, the administration can develop a better understanding of students' expression rights. An effective student newspaper only works if everyone is on the same page.

The school itself would benefit from a free press; an outlet which will illuminate problems within the school, and then act as a community builder to bring teachers, students and staff together.

SPLC names new executive director

The Student Press Law Center has a new executive director. Daniel LoMonte, who is currently an associate attorney in Atlanta, takes over for Mark Goodman. For more, visit the SPLC Web site.

Rally protests censorship of school paper

A rally in Georgia in support of a student newspaper did not attract many students, but received support from some surprising people instead. Check out the Atlanta Journal Constitution to find out who.

Censoring students robs democracy

Joe Dennis, director of the Georgia Scholastic Press Association, talks on the importance of free expression for students in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

IHSPA honors J-Ideas First Amendment advocate

MUNCIE, Ind. -- The director of Ball State University's First Amendment advocacy organization was recently honored by the Indiana High School Press Association (IHSPA).

J-Ideas director Warren Watson received the Louis Ingelhart Friends of the Student Press Award Oct. 19 from the IHSPA during its annual convention in Franklin, Ind.

Nationally recognized as a champion for the freedom of college news media, Ingelhart was professor emeritus of journalism and director emeritus of student publications at Ball State. He died earlier this year.

The IHSPA annually honors people who contribute to scholastic journalism or the First Amendment in a spirit like that of Ingelhart, who first received the honor in 1985.

"It is certainly an honor to be mentioned on the same level as Louis Ingelhart," Watson said. "Over his many years of service, he developed a reputation as a staunch defender of student journalists. As a journalist and educator, I will attempt to uphold his ideals that he held near to his heart." Watson was named J-Ideas director in 2004. He previously was a vice president at the American Press Institute (API) and a 26-year veteran of American newspapers. The 56-year-old has held reporting, editing, art and management positions at newspapers as small as the 2,000-circulation Somerswoth-Berwicks (Maine) Free Press and as large as the 300,000-circulation St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. He is a New Hampshire native and earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of New Hampshire in 1973.

Established in 2003, J-Ideas is designed to raise First Amendment appreciation, promote media literacy and encourage student media in high schools. It is affiliated with Ball State's journalism department and the College of Communication, Information, and Media.

Trial over conservative flyer continues

A lawsuit concerning the censoring of a student's conservative flyer is moving on. Visit the Student Press Law Center Web site for more on this story in Hudson, Ma.

First Amendment advocate continues to fight

Randy Swikle, a frequent contributor and lecturer for J-Ideas, is featured in this Medill Reports story about the former Dow Jones Journalism Teacher of the Year.

Federal shield bill passes House

A federal shield bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is now headed to the U.S. Senate. Visit the Washington Post Web site for more.

Student journalist resigns, plans rally

Amid speaking out over the censorship of her student newspaper, one student journalist is resigning and planning a First Amendment rally in Newman, Ga. Read the story at the Times-Herald Web site.

Ethics key to student journalism

The Athens Banner-Herald takes a look at what makes student newspapers strong--ethics.

Journalism high school standards pass in Indiana

By Gerry Appel

Chalk up a victory for high school journalism in the Hoosier State.

Following several years of revisions--along with some sweat and tears--standards for journalism in the state of Indiana have been approved by the State Board of Education, and will take effect immediately as a stand-alone set to the English/Language Arts standards. Indiana joins Mississippi as the only states to adopt stand-alone standards for journalism.

By having standards for both teachers and students, journalism classes should become stronger, according to Jack Dvorak, the director of the High School Journalism Institute at Indiana University.

"The standards are quite good and very rigorous," Dvorak said. "If you (teachers) follow them, then any journalism course in Indiana will be an outstanding one."

The standards were developed primarily by members of the Indiana High School Press Association, led by Executive Director Diana Hadley. Hadley worked with journalism advisers Terry Nelson (Muncie Central High School), Jim Lang (Floyd Central High School) and Denise Roberts (Greenwood Community High School) on writing and developing the standards.

>>Full Story

Michigan bill seeks to support student media

Capital News Service

LANSING -- Freedom of speech and the press is a right that every citizen enjoys, right?


Under a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, school officials may censor student publications if they decide that the material isn't in accord with the mission of the school.

A bill by Rep. Andy Coulouris, D-Saginaw, seeks to change that situation.

His proposal would ban censorship of student publications by school boards, administrators and employees.

>>Full Story

Calif. high court supports student journalist

The California Supreme Court has upheld a lower court's review in favor of a high school student's free speech. Read the story at

Censored: the new age of high school journalism

John Krull, the director of the Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College, takes an indepth look at the state of free expression in student media. Read the story, and sidebars, at Nuvo.

Constitution plays role in business

Tribune-Star Columnist Arthur Foulkes explores the role of the Constitution in business, and talks about Indiana State University's Constitution Day event. Click here for the story.


J-Ideas is offering five different teaching DVDs for classroom use. These DVDs include the Silver Telly award-winning First Amendment DVD, a business management DVD, a sports journalism DVD, and a business reporting DVD. These DVDs can be ordered here.

In addition, a DVD for principals and administrators on the First Amendment is now available. That DVD may be ordered by e-mailing infomail@jideasg

First Amendment poster contest offers $2,500

The Illinois First Amendment Center and Illinois Press Foundation are teaming up in a First Amendment poster contest for Illinois high school students. Read about the contest here.

Sorrell starts new teaching job

Former Woodlan High School (Woodburn, Ind.) journalism teacher Amy Sorrell is starting the next step of her teaching career. Read about it at the Student Press Law Center Web site.

For J-Ideas' collection of Sorrell coverage, click here.

New Oregon law assists student journalists

As Oregon high school and college journalists enjoy their newly-protected freedoms from a student expression law, the Statesman Journal takes a look at what this law means.

Ill. governor approves college press protections

Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D.) passed a Illinois law on August 31 giving college students First Amendment protections. Read more at the Student Press Law Center Web site.

Everett, Wa. student editors reach agreement

High school editors in Everett, Wa., have reached a settlement over their student newspaper's revised masthead, ending a two-year battle with the school district. Read the full story at the Student Press Law Center Web site.

Download entry form for 2007 cartoon contest

Download this pdf for more information.

Protecting the rights of student journalists

Click here to read the Cleveland Plain Dealer's editorial on student journalism.

Muncie Central (Ind.) journalism teacher honored

Click here to visit the Muncie Free Press Web site and read more about Terry Nelson's honor.

Union-Bulletin: principals can act as publishers

Click here to visit the Union Bulletin Web site to read more.

Student press freedom reaches across the country

By Warren Watson Director J-Jideas

Muncie, Indiana, and Olympia, Washington, are separated by 1,914 miles of prairie grass, tall peaks and raging rivers.

But they are connected today in a most special way -- fused by interests which share a mutual desire to promote our democracy through civics education and student journalism.

Ball State's J-Ideas program, through a new, unique public policy alliance, is shining a light on an energetic Washington state lawmaker who believes that active and unfettered student reporters and editors may be the key to a more informed electorate and community.

State Rep. Dave Upthegrove, a 35-year-old Democrat, has introduced HB 1307, which would give high school and college students true Freedom of the Press, one of the five freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. The bill is being considered by the Washington House of Representatives, in the state capital of Olympia.

"It's important to protect the First Amendment rights of everyone," said Rep. Upthegrove. "Freedom of speech and press are fundamental to our democracy."

Upthegrove's bill, which recently had an initial public hearing, would strengthen free speech protections for students and prohibit censorship of their publications by shifting editorial liability from schools to students. This would make student reporters and editors responsible for any legal problems that might result.

Since 1988, when the U.S. Supreme Court passed the infamous Hazelwood decision, which granted broader censorship authority to school administrators, six states have enacted similar laws: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Massachusetts.

J-Ideas, through its new First Amendment Public Policy Alliance, has become an information hub for the bill, reaching out in a public education campaign that reaches beyond both Muncie and Olympia. It's all part of a new policy emphasis at J-Ideas, a four-year-old program which supports excellence in high school journalism, First Amendment awareness and news literacy.

But why support an effort 1,914 miles from home?

Well, the First Amendment is in peril. Just ask anyone who truly cares about openness in government, the free exchange of ideas and the future of our democracy.

Governmental bodies waving patriotic flags continue to move toward secrecy. Reporters struggle to tell the full story. Cases of censorship of student media expression proliferate. High school students sit back and yawn. Their college counterparts cut classes -- and dates at the voting booth.

In fact, a 2006 survey sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, of which J-Ideas was a partner, showed that 45 percent of high school students feel that the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. And more than 75 percent either do not know how they feel about the First Amendment or take its rights for granted.

"The purpose of school," said executive director Dick Johns of the Iowa-based Quill and Scroll Society, an organization for youth journalists, "includes enlightening students and preparing them to be contributing citizens in our democratic society. Both educators and parents know that students best learn to do by doing"

Upthegrove, Johns and J-Ideas all believe that this important civics lesson can be conveyed through a student media not subject to administrative censorship. "Journalism is the application of civics," said Upthegrove.

Johns added that the Washington bill would allow students to become active participants in their own schools by eliminating prior review by administrators, which is short for "censorship."

He added, "Arbitrary censorship and other devices of autocracy do not teach democracy, ethics or responsibility. They teach hypocrisy, cynicism and tyranny. Too many administrators do not want students ‘to do,' " said Johns.

In the coming months, the J-Ideas First Amendment Public Policy Alliance will work in a number of areas, including training and education of principals and administrators in First Amendment education, news literacy, and the advocacy of an Advanced Placement high school course in journalism.

The Ball State institute also is developing a model policy for school districts that would guide administrators in the ever-evolving area of digital free speech. The policy would recognize that administrators need to maintain order, safety and discipline in the schoolplace in this Information Age, but recognize that the First Amendment must be respected and celebrated as well.

So, the First Amendment battleground in our schools will be a broad one.

The first such skirmish is taking place in faraway Olympia, on the southern shores of Puget Sound.

(Warren Watson is director of J-Ideas, Ball State's national First Amendment institute. He is a 30-year journalist who teaches reporting, editing and writing in Muncie.)

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Original announcement

Conference brings attention to digital expression

By Curt Hazlett Special to J-Ideas

CHICAGO -- Online innovations such as social-networking sites and weblogs are providing today's students with new ways of communicating, but they are also creating potential conflicts over freedom of expression in schools, according to participants at a McCormick Tribune Foundation conference titled Free Speech in Schools.

The conference, organized by Ball State's J-Ideas program and held Oct. 18-20 in the downtown Freedom Museum, brought together 42 participants with a strong interest in freedom of expression in schools, including First Amendment scholars, teachers, administrators and students. Topics included First Amendment law in the digital age, the impact of Internet filtering on schools and libraries, and the ways in which dramatic changes in traditional media have reshaped the ways in which students express their ideas.

"We covered some important ground at the meeting," said Warren Watson, the J-Ideas director who developed the program for McCormick Tribune. "Young people enjoy First Amendment rights around free speech. But those rights are being challenged in the information age.

Of particular interest to the participants is the impact on scholastic free speech of such social-networking sites as MySpace, Facebook and Xanga, where members can post personal information and photos for online viewing. Critics say the sites can harbor sexual predators and be misused by those who anonymously post fraudulent information about others.

To prevent access to those sites and others, many schools and libraries have installed Internet filters on their computers. Questions also have been raised whether schools can punish students who misuse the sites, even though that misuse takes place off campus.

But a number of participants noted that social-networking sites provide students with a new method for exchanging ideas, and that those who want to restrict their use should be aware of their value.

"You read a lot about the dangers of MySpace, but you need to remember the potential," noted participant Mark Goodman, the executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Alexandria, Va. "There is more at risk by not encouraging student expression than by encouraging it."

The discussions took place against a backdrop of concern that students' First Amendment rights are being eroded by a lack of understanding on the part of school administrators, especially when it comes to the limits of their jurisdiction.

A landmark 1968 Supreme Court decision, Tinker v. Des Moines School District, held that the right to free expression doesn't end at the schoolhouse door. Twenty years later, the high court restricted that right in its Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier ruling, which held that schools have the right to restrict "disruptive" speech. Now the court has been asked to hear a case in which an Alaska student was punished for displaying a banner off campus that a school administrator found objectionable.

Constitutional law scholar and journalist Linda Monk told the gathering that the crucial question now is how much power school administrators have in controlling students' speech. "To say to a student that essentially there is no limit to our jurisdiction over you would be the death of the First Amendment," she said.

New media issues complicate the situation even further, leading Watson, the conference moderator, to ask, "Do the rights of students stop at one end of an Internet connection?"

Based on the conference discussions, the McCormick Tribune Foundation plans to produce a resource guide early in 2007 that will help students and educators better understand the First Amendment.

Related story: Freedom Museum opens its doors

J-Ideas wins 2007 Silver Telly for educational DVD

For the second consecutive year, Ball State's J-Ideas project has won a Silver Telly award for an educational DVD.

"A First Amendment Guide for Principals and Administrators" was produced by J-Ideas, the university's organization created to promote the First Amendment, media literacy and encourage student media in high schools, and Joseph McKinney, chairman of the educational leadership department.

The DVD is needed to help school administrators better understand First Amendment activities, which have been overlooked or abandoned in many schools, said Warren Watson, J-Ideas director.

The Telly Awards honor the best local, regional and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions.

The DVD, the fifth installment of J-Ideas educational series, was produced with assistance from McKinney, the educational leadership department and Ball State's Teleplex. The next J-Ideas DVD will focus on media ethics.

Established in 2003, J-Ideas is designed to raise First Amendment appreciation, promote media literacy and encourage student media in high schools. It is affiliated with Ball State's journalism department and the College of Communication, Information, and Media.

The Telly Awards was founded in 1978 by David E. Carter, a past Emmy® and Clio® winner, to honor excellence in local, regional and cable TV commercials. Non-broadcast video and TV program categories were soon added. Today, the Telly is one of the most sought-after awards by industry leaders, from large international firms to local production companies and ad agencies. With over 200 categories, more organizations than ever are eligible to participate.

To order the DVD, call (765) 285-8923 or e-mail

A conversation about the First Amendment

(Ken Paulson, editor of USA Today, interviewed outgoing Student Press Law Center Director Mark Goodman about students and the First Amendment during the 2007 convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington, D.C.  Here is a transcript of their conversation.)

Q -- Talking about the erosion of free press, does that make your job any tougher?

A -- Does it ever.  You know one of the things that I think is so frustrating about the work we do advocating on behalf of high school and college journalists is realizing how warped the view of so many student journalists is about the role of the free press because they have never known anything else.  But a government official, in their case a school administrator, dictating what is or isn’t news.  And getting them to stand up for their own rights let alone the rights of the community at large is very challenging and I think the impact of attitudes toward the commercial media definitely trickles down to students too.

Q -- So has your work picked up as you see more examples?

A -- Yes, needless to say we could triple our staff and not keep up with the demand.  In an average year we hear between two and three thousand students and teachers across the country who are coming to us, the vast majority of which are having a problem with censorship.   They are being told they can’t cover, typically some very important issue in their eyes to their school, their community, because the school doesn’t want to see it in print.

Q -- What has caused all of these administrators to be so confident they can sort of censor young people and not face consequences?

A -- It’s a fascinating change and it’s one thing I don’t completely understand, but the one major difference today as opposed to twenty years ago, when I began this work was there are more and more school administrators today who are proud to labeled a censor.  They have no embarrassment about that title and in fact they see it almost as a badge of honor.  I think one of the things that is a reflection of is that people perceive it as a positive socially within their own community to dislike and distrust the media and to work against it as opposed to defending it.  I really feel like our schools have failed in terms of educating both administrators as well as students about the role of the First Amendment and the role free press plays in our society.

Q -- To what extent should and can we be involved in the Washington state student free press battle?

A -- I can tell you that if we lose the hearts and minds of young journalists, teenage high school and college journalists, we’ve lost the age group as a whole.  The sad fact is what happened in Washington state and what happened just today in another state, where a state press association announced it is opposing a bill that would protect high school student free press rights, has a very direct impact on the attitudes of those young people, many of whom won’t go on to be professional journalist, but who will go on to be citizens, directly affects the attitudes they have towards the news media, it’s enthusiasm for the First Amendment and the rights of others and the role of free press plays in a free society.

Q -- You are such a nice and diplomatic man, what state press association was it?

A -- Michigan.

We're strangling high school free speech, press

By Gene Policinski
First Amendment Center

WASHINGTON -- As high school students head back to school this month, far fewer have a chance to participate in real student journalism owing to reduced or eliminated programs, fewer trained professional advisers and quite possibly antagonistic school administrators.

Journalism educators gathered here Aug. 9 to talk about high school journalism, 20 years after the first Scholastic Journalism Summit. They heard that many of those same problems considered two decades ago remain -- and the more recent news is even more chilling.

The combination of school abandonment of support for free press and speech and court decisions in the last two decades is "chipping away at fundamental freedoms" in a trend "for which I see no end in sight," warned Mark Goodman, who led the Student Press Law Center for much of that time.

Some student cases in point:

-A federal appeals court recently ruled that New York school officials could suspend an otherwise-exemplary eighth-grader for posting a 2001 online picture message from home on his parents’ computer and sending it to a few of his friends. The court said the drawing threatened the student's English teacher, but its holding wasn't based on any finding that the threat was "true." Rather, it was because school officials made the case that they believed it would disrupt classes.

-In a serious case with a funny nickname, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," the U.S. Supreme Court carved out yet another exception to a hallmark 1969 student-speech case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. The Court will permit school authorities to punish student speech that administrators deem to indicate even a smidgen of support for illegal drug use.

-In Minnesota, an award-winning editor of a student newspaper found his publication censored by a principal because he was going to run a picture of the simulated destruction of a U.S. flag -- in a report about a play on the Civil War.

-Then there was the flap last school year in a northern Indiana school district over a student newspaper column that asked for tolerance and compassion for gays. The junior-senior high school has eliminated the newspaper program and turned yearbook into an after-school club. The newspaper adviser, who successfully deflected a school board attempt to fire her, has left the public system for a private school -- where she will not be banned from the journalism program.

We can all agree that realistic threats of violence in school merit realistic responses by authorities. And I have yet to find even strident First Amendment advocates who disagree that student journalists need education, training and adult advice.

But what are we teaching students -- our future fellow citizens -- about the value of a free press when a well-written, mild-mannered essay is reason for killing off a student publication and removing the adviser?

What are we telling students about the value of free speech when the good ones are reprimanded, suspended, expelled or even face criminal charges for musings that likely would have sent a prior generation to after-school detention, at most?

When we block students from expressing themselves in school, we likely don't shut off the speech. We drive it underground or into cyberspace.

When we shut down or water down student newspapers, Web sites and yearbooks, we speak loudly about authority at the expense of education.

Again, from Goodman: "Large numbers of students are learning that government does have the power to control the content" of newspapers and speech.

Summit attendees heard some glimmers of positive news. Innovative programs like the American Society of Newspaper Editors' High School Journalism initiative offer advice and a Web home ( to electronic versions of high school newspapers. A new initiative by the Radio Television News Directors Association will boost student radio and television.

But in an era when too many school officials seem bent on shutting down student expression and the courts seem willing to support them, there's too little good news for those who don't see the words "except for students" anywhere in the 45 words of the First Amendment. 8-09-07

Gene Policinski is vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209. Web: E-mail:

With permission, 2007, First Amendment Center

Student journalists run story on censored piece

Vashon, Wash. -- When Vashon High School's principal and superintendent pulled an article from the school's paper focusing on a high school coach who for years has been considered controversial, students sprung into action. Staff from the newspaper, The Riptide, instead ran an article detailing the school district's decision, with the banner headline reading, "This issue of The Riptide was censored."

Students say the school's decision to censor the article -- the first in The Riptide's eight-year history -- was unfair, saying the article represents both sides of the issue, is thoroughly reported and is important to the school community.

To read more on the First Amendment controversy that has drawn regional media attention, please visit the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber.

Americans don't understand religion

According to USA Today, Americans are woefully undereducated when it comes to religion--sixty percent of Americans can't even name half of the Ten Commandments, and 50 percent of high school seniors believe Sodom and Gomorrah were married, not cities. Religion experts say not knowing about faiths is dangerous in a time when religion plays such a part in the world stage.

For more, visit USA Today.

'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' reaches Supreme Court

Five years ago, a high school student was suspended for carrying a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner. The battle has now reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which may hear the case in March.

For more, please visit the Anchorage Daily News.

School suspends student for saying 'that's so gay'

A California high school student is suing her school after being suspended for saying "that's so gay." Rebekah Rice replied with the phrase after students were harassing her about her Mormon faith.

Read the full story at the Wisconsin State Journal.

Students suspended for saying 'vagina'

Three high school students have been suspended from school for saying the word "vagina" during an open mic reading at John Jay High School in Cross River, New York. School administrators say they warned the students ahead of time to not say the word from a "Vagina Monologues" selection. The students will serve separate, one-day in-school suspensions.

For more, please visit the Journal News.

Washington considers student free press bill

Upthegrove champions ‘Student Free Press' legislation January 15, 2006

OLYMPIA - In October 2005, after 106 years of circulation, Everett High School's newspaper, The Kodak, was shut down when student editors refused to allow administrators to have final say in the paper's content.

While many Washingtonians take freedom of the press for granted, these students got a first-hand lesson in the First Amendment and its limits.

To ensure the right of a free press is protected for all Washington high-school students, state Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-Des Moines) today introduced student press-freedom legislation.

A recent national survey by the Knight Foundation found that 49% of high school students agreed with the statement that "It is OK for the government to censor the news." The number of students who hold this view decreases when they take courses in journalism and civics.

"Civics education, especially learning about the protections guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, is essential if we want our kids to grow up to be good citizens," said Upthegrove. "We need to model First-Amendment rights in our student publications."

The legislation enjoys bipartisan support including that of Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Upthegrove was informed of the need for student speech protections after talking with Brian Schraum, former editor of the Green River Community College paper. Most Washington high school papers are subject to prior restraint, a policy whereby school administrators exercise final approval on the content of school papers.

"Unfortunately, events like what happened in Everett happen all of the time," said Schraum, who is now studying journalism at Washington State University. "A lot of times students are afraid to challenge the school administrator, so cases rarely get public attention."

Upthegrove's legislation applies strictly to news and editorial content of a paper and does not apply to libelous or obscene material. It would release school districts from liability for the content of the newspaper. The student press-freedom legislation also applies to state colleges and universities.

Six other states have adopted similar laws. ###

Contact: Rep. Dave Upthegrove (360) 786-7868

Staff Contact: Jeff Muhm (360) 786-7237

Student sues principal over censorship

ALBANY, N.Y.--A middle school student who was told he could not protest abortion, is now suing his principal.

The 13-year-old eighth-grader, who is referred to in documents as "M.G.," is seeking a jury trial and wants another opportunity to protest, according to the Times Union.

The boy and his friends wore t-shirts and handed out fliers to protest. According to court documents, the students were then told to turn their shirts inside out and to throw out their fliers. The students had cleared plans with administrators to protest.

"The First Amendment does not permit school officials to 'pick and choose' which speech is allowable and which is not," said ADF-allied attorney Tom Marcelle to the Times Union. "If 13-year-olds are old enough to participate in sexual education courses, they are certainly old enough to talk about issues such as abortion."

School spokeswoman Kelly DeFeciani said students must get prior permission to protest.

"You have to go through the proper channels," she said.

Channel One, Knight, create web resource

Channel One and Knight Foundation Launch First Amendment Resource for Teachers

‘1Voice' Campaign Helps Educators Teach and Engage the Topic of Personal Freedoms in America 's Classrooms

January 9, 2007

NEW YORK, NY (January 9, 2006) -- Channel One and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced the launch of the ‘1Voice' campaign on, Channel One's online resource for teachers. 1Voice is a multi-media, national campaign aimed at raising teens' understanding and appreciation of the personal freedoms guaranteed them by America's First Amendment. Recently, 1Voice also launched on, a vibrant Web community visited each month by more than 400,000 teens looking for anytime access to breaking news, current events and topics of interest.

In October 2006, Channel One and the Knight Foundation announced the upcoming launch of a creative educational campaign that would include a mix of Channel One broadcast programming, programming, public service announcements, student events, and instructional materials and resources for educators centered on issues related to the First Amendment. The three-year program commenced this month and is funded with a Knight Foundation grant of $2.25 million.

"While many of the programs that we have planned regarding the First Amendment will certainly pique teens' and teachers' interest, 1Voice is designed to open the door for further conversation and exploration on a subject matter that is of critical importance," said Judy L. Harris, president and CEO of Channel One. "It is our responsibility as an unbiased news resource to push the envelope on educating American Students on their rights and freedoms and to ensure that the First Amendment is no longer taken for granted by so many. We continue to create powerful forums for students and teachers to learn, discuss and debate one of the cornerstones of this country."

Eric Newton, Vice President of Knight's Journalism Program added, "Teaching the First Amendment is the first step to preparing tomorrow's citizens. We don't see it as an educational elective, but rather something teachers, parents and students themselves need to be sure is happening." and have quickly become popular destinations for both teachers and teens. offers teens an opportunity to learn via breaking news headlines, features and interactive quizzes. offers teachers free and timely, in-class tools, such as lesson plans that tie in to the First Amendment, as well as PowerPoint decks and one-act plays teachers can download and use as in-class activities to engage students in learning about the real-world application of their rights and personal freedoms.

Many of the 1Voice teaching tools available to educators at were developed by Sam Chaltain, a former history teacher and the founding director of the Five Freedoms Project, an organization that helps school leaders use democratic processes to create more equitable, collaborative environments in which to work and learn. “Channel One and Knight," said Chaltain, "recognize that the ideal places to practice the rights and responsibilities of citizenship are our nation's public schools, the institutions originally founded to ensure that each new generation of Americans acquires the civic skills necessary to sustain our national commitment to democracy and freedom."

About Channel One

Peabody and Webby award-winning Channel One is the preeminent news and public affairs content provider reaching more than 7 million teens in middle schools and high schools across the country, nearly 30 percent of teenagers in the U.S. In recent months, Channel One News has covered fast-breaking world events from regions such as Iraq , Kuwait , Afghanistan , Thailand , Sri Lanka , Jordan , Cuba , Venezuela , North Korea , Myanmar , and Qatar . Channel One News programming has been featured on leading networks and news programs, including CNN, ABC News, the WB, Nightline and The Today Show. Visit to learn more.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the foundation has approved nearly $300 million in journalism grants. For more information, visit

### Media Contacts:

Channel One: Amanda Cheslock, 212.446.1884; Knight Foundation: Larry Meyer, 305-908-2610;

First Amendment advocate dies

Louis Ingelhart, a First Amendment advocate and professor emeritus at Ball State University, has died from complications of pneumonia. Ingelhart had won virtually every First Amendment award possible, and helped usher in countless students into journalism. For more coverage, please visit the Ball State Daily News Website, at

Apply for 'Free Spirit Award'

The Al Neuharth Free Spirit of the Year Award is given annually by the Freedom Forum to an individual in the news who has stirred the public's hearts and souls by demonstrating the human capacity to dream, dare and do. The award, along with an honorarium, is given to honor the winner's "free spirit" and provide the winner the opportunity to perpetuate that ideal.

The Al Neuharth Free Spirit Scholarship and Conference Program annually awards $1,000 college scholarships to each of the 102 high school seniors who are interested in pursuing a career in journalism and who demonstrate qualities of "free spirit." Two top scholars are selected to win a special award of $50,000 each. In order to apply, you must complete the 2006 Application Form, all boxes must be filled in -- if not applicable type "N/A," provide all the required materials and mail the completed forms and materials in one package by October 15, 2006.

The Free Spirit program comes together in one evening in March at the National Press Club and honors the Al Neuharth Free Spirit of the Year Award winner, honorees and the 102 high school students for their exemplary abilities as free spirits to dream, dare and do.

For more details, visit

Syracuse opens free speech center

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse University has opened a new center for free speech on Oct. 13, according to the Associated Press.

Through research and educational programming, the Tully Center for Free Speech will educate students and the public about the importance of practicing your first amendment rights, namely free speech, as well as contribute to the national and international awareness on free speech and media law, said David Rubin, dean of Syracuse's Newhouse School of Public Communications.

The center is planning to bring noted speakers on current media law issues to the university to enhance student and faculty understandings of the role of free speech.

"Sadly, we are in an era when the public little understands the meaning and purpose of the First Amendment, and when government at all levels often frustrates the goal of creating an one marketplace of ideas and an informed public," Rubin said.

"We hope the Tully Center will address the former problem, and that public pressure will address the latter," he added.

The center was named in honor of Syracuse alumna Joan Tully who died at age 58 from a brain tumor after giving $1 million to fund the center.

"Joan Tully felt, as do we, that the First Amendment is only as strong as the public's support for it," Rubin said.

Banned Books Week to celebrate First Amendment

Banned Books Week will run Sept. 23-30 in conjunction with Constitution Day, according to Up & Coming Magazine. Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), among others, is 25 years in the running.

During Banned Books Week, libraries across the nation will have displays set up featuring books that have been banned at some point in the past. These books will be available for check out.

The week celebrates First Amendment rights, which are challenged when citizens request that some materials be removed from library shelves. Between 1990 and 2000, of the 6,364 challenges reported or recorded by the Office For Intellectual Freedom, 71 percent of the requests were for material in schools or school libraries, according to the ALA website.

According to Melissa Lang of the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center, removing a book from the library shelves may appease a person or group that challenges its availability, but it denies the entire community access to that source of information.

"We are not in the business of preventing people from getting information," Lang said. "We provide access to information."

Strict dress code may force school to downsize

LINCOLN PARK, MI -- Controversy surrounding Lincoln Park school district's new stricter dress code may force the district to lay off teachers and consolidate schools, according to the Detroit Free Press. Some parents are keeping their kids home from school in protest on Sept. 27, the state-sanctioned student-count day that helps to determine how much state money districts are allotted.

Paula Koths, mother of two Lincoln Park students, Tiffany, 12, and Cody, 8, said her kids won't be in class on count day. Koths said she is protesting the district putting unreasonable rules on her kids.

School Superintendent Randall Kite said that approximately 120 students have already left the district -- some because of the dress code. This means the district may lose about $850,000 in state funding because the district receives about $7,100 per student, Kite said.

The district sent more than 300 students home on the first day of school for violating the policy and a handful more on Sept. 11 for wearing clothes honoring the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

The school's new policy restricts all grade levels from wearing T-shirts with most logos, baggy, tight or long jeans, sandals, cargo pants, shorts and skirts above the knee, hooded sweatshirts and fleece, among others.

The ACLU of Michigan is looking into the constitutionality of the policy, which may be violating students' rights.

Byrd Finds Support for Prayer Amendment

Beckley, W. Va. -- Senator Robert C. Byrd is finding support from fellow lawmakers in his efforts to support the free practice of religion in classroom settings and at school functions, according to the Cushing Daily Citizen.

Among his supporters are Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va. and Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, both R-Miss, Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and James Inhofe, R-Okla. Senator and chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., is the latest lawmaker to back Byrd's efforts.

"I am proud to have this group of senators joining me in this effort," Byrd said. "Prayer and faith in the Creator have helped to shape this nation from its earliest days."

Byrd said although prayer is already allowed in public places, various individuals and groups have challenged it. He said this has set forth a chilling effect.

His amendment points out there is nothing written in the Constitution banning voluntary school prayer. "I believe that, in ruling after ruling, the U.S. courts have been moving perilously close to prohibiting the free exercise of religion in America. Americans don't want religious censorship," he said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is in the process of considering Byrd's proposal.

Students say school dress code violates rights

LINCOLN PARK, MI -- More than 300 students from Lincoln Park Public School were pulled from classes or sent home on Wednesday for violating the school's new dress code, according to The Detroit News.

A copy of the school's new policy, which restricted all grade levels from wearing T-shirts with most logos, baggy, tight or long jeans, flip-flops, different colored shoelaces, skirts and shorts above the knee, cargo pants, hooded sweatshirts and fleece, was sent to parents in July, about two weeks before the first day of school.

Eighth-grader Monique Massa and her twin brother Jaicen, 13, were sent home after they refused to change their T-shirts which included text from the First Amendment, violating the school's policy by wearing a logo more than two inches high. The siblings, along with their younger sister, RaeAnna, and younger brother, Jaymie, decided to protest the strict dress code after watching "Gandhi."

"We wanted to make a point," Monique said. "People should have the right to express themselves the way they want to. We wanted to let our schools know that it's unfair."

Lincoln Park Superintendent Randall Kite said the most common violation was cargo pants and shorts. "Students will test us and that'll continue for a little while, but I hope not too long," he said.

Students were given the choice of changing their clothes or being sent home for violating the code, Kite said. About 120 of the dress code violators were high school students.

High school senior Robert Stone thinks administrators were just too picky. "The principal came into the class, pulled the people out and sent them home on the spot," he said.

Stone, 18, thinks the new policy is a disruption to class. "It won't be helpful to our education if teachers have to keep taking time out of the day for this," he said.

More than 700 parents signed petitions in protest of the dress code claiming it is too strict. Meanwhile, the Massa siblings plan to continue to fight for their rights.

"We plan to keep doing the same thing until they change the rules," said Monique.

Parents may sue over students' suspensions

LOMPOC, CA -- Parents of Lompoc High School students will meet this week to consider filing a class-action lawsuit against the school district, according to The Lompoc Record.

Parents say that students' First Amendment rights were violated after police detained and cited 63 students on March 31 when they met at Lompoc High after walking out of several Lompoc schools to protest national immigration issues.

School Superintendent Frank Lynch said the district supported a lunchtime protest but believed that students should be in class during school hours. School administrators encouraged students to protest during recess so as not to miss class, said Lynch.

Community activist Elizabeth Reyes-Velasquez said that according to the city's ordinance, Section 2103, students have a right to protest at all times.

"You have a right to protest whenever you feel like it and you don't need anybody's permission to protest," she said. "They don't need to give you verbal or written approval or tell you when it's convenient for them for you to protest. It's your right to exercise at any time."

Panel to cover student media Constitutional rights

For the second time, the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication, Franklin Pierce College are teaming up to present "First Amendment Forum: Constitution Day Edition."

The session, on Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to noon, is an open discussion about the constitutionally guaranteed free speech and press rights of high school and college student media, and will be presented before a live audience and on the internet.

The program features experts from education, journalism, and law.

This session can be accessed live from and will be archived at

For more information, call (603) 627-0005 or visit

If you'd like to make a reservation to participate in the studio audience, e-mail or call (603) 899-1039.

Former teacher appeals decision

Curtis Sherrod, a former Boca Raton history teacher, is appealing a judge's decision to vacate a $396,000 award issued by Palm Beach County Jury. The teacher alleged he wasn't permitted to incorporate African American studies into his curriculum and was fired when he protested the decsion. A judge vacated the jury's verdict stating, "The district did not discriminate against him or retaliate." Sherrod responded to the surprising decision by saying " I'm devastated. It makes me angry that the court said Dr. Johnson violated my constitutional rights but now no one is liable for it." Sherrod went on to say that he will file a second lawsuit against the school district for "denying equal protection under the law."

For more information on this case see The Boca Raton News at

California free expression bill passes

California recently passed legislation to protect student freedom of speech. "Freedom of Speech is the cornerstone of our democracy. Students working on college newspapers deserve the same rights afforded to every other student journalist," said Governor Schwarzenegger after signing the legislation into law.

This bill was designed in response to the recent Hosty V. Carter decision, where the Seventh Circuit Court ruled that an Illinois University had the authority to halt the presses of a college newspaper before printing an article critical of the legislation. California's new legislation will extend the same protections from censorship to student presses at the collegiate level as is provided to high school student newspapers.

Citizen Journalism Academy opening in October

A new trend in journalism is leading to a new trend in journalism education. The University of Kansas and The World Company have teamed up to open the Citizen Journalism Academy. The Academy will offer its first classes on the processes and standards that make community activities and events "news". Courses will cover writing technique, photography, videography and blogging. The academy will open its on October 2, 2006 to its first 25 students. For more information visit: Lawrence Journal-World at

Calling all high school cartoon journalists!

National Editorial Cartoon Contest -Entries should focus on First Amendment or freedom issues. -Winner receives roundtrip airfare to Chicago to attend the opening of the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museums special exhibit featuring the contest finalists.

Cartoon entries must be submitted by Oct. 31, 2006.

Visit for details.

Calling all high school cartoon journalists!

National Editorial Cartoon Contest

-Entries should focus on First Amendment or freedom issues. -Winner receives roundtrip airfare to Chicago to attend the opening of the Freedom Museum's special exhibit featuring the contest finalists!

Online registration required by Sept. 15, 2006 at FreedomMuseum.US or via mail: McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum 435 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 754 Chicago, IL 60611. Cartoon entries must be submitted by Oct. 15, 2006. Visit FreedomMuseum.US and for details or write us to request rules.

Calling all high school cartoon journalists!

National Editorial Cartoon Contest

-Entries should focus on First Amendment or freedom issues. -Winner receives roundtrip airfare to Chicago to attend the opening of the Freedom Museum's special exhibit featuring the contest finalists!

Online registration required by Sept. 15, 2006 at FreedomMuseum.US or via mail: McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum 435 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 754 Chicago, IL 60611. Cartoon entries must be submitted by Oct. 15, 2006. Visit FreedomMuseum.US and for details or write us to request rules.

California free expression bill awaits signature

College newspapers in California got a major assist this month when the state Senate passed a bill prohibiting prior restraint and other forms of censorship, according to the Student Press Law Center.

The Senate passed the bill 31-2, while in May, the California Assembly passed the bill unanimously. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has 12 days to sign or veto the bill; if he fails to sign, the bill automatically becomes law.

The bill was written in response to Hosty v. Carter, a decision that extended the Hazelwood decision from high schools to colleges. In Hazelwood, the courts ruled that free expression rights can be limited.

SPECIAL: Teens talk freedom: Students debate

By Hannah Miller Reprinted from Page One, a teen section inside the Tribune Chronicle in Warren, OH.

Jason Connelly thinks the First Amendment is impractical.

‘‘The First Amendment seems very idealistic,'' said Connelly, a recent graduate of Lakeview High School. ‘‘If everyone was allowed to do whatever they want, then we would have anarchy and a very p----- off majority.''

Connelly and the other 24 percent of local teens who believe the press has too much freedom support a study conducted by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight Foundation's nationwide study found that more than a third of high school students think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.

‘‘Being able to question authority and have a voice in how government runs is positively essential,'' said Candace Perkins Bowen, Scholastic Media Coordinator for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University. ‘‘Citizens who don't appreciate that won't even realize when their freedoms are eroding. Students who learn to blindly accept situations they really could and should change will not be the voting, thinking citizens we need in our country.''

The First Amendment gives Americans five freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble and freedom to petition the government. In a survey conducted by Page One staff members, local high school students commented on First Amendment freedoms.

Eighty percent agreed that newspapers should be allowed to publish stories without prior government approval, compared to slightly more than half in the national survey.

‘‘The First Amendment is one of the greatest aspects of our nation,'' said Greg Murray, a recent graduate of Howland High School. ‘‘It gives us the freedom to say and do whatever we want. Everyone should be able to speak their mind freely without fear of censorship.''

However, Ryan Cunningham, a Howland High School senior, disagreed. ‘‘I believe that the freedom of the press is far too open and that it should be limited more, because sometimes it invades individuals' privacy,'' said Cunningham.

According to the Knight Foundation's survey, over half of high school students, compared to 39 percent of teachers and one-quarter of principals, think students should be allowed to report controversial issues in their student newspapers without approval of school authorities.

Two local high school newspapers, Howland High School's The WAVE and Hubbard High School's Hub, undergo review by the schools' respective principals before publication.

Frank Thomas, Howland High School principal, said that, though the school has the right to censor, he ‘‘very seldom tries to eliminate content'' from the newspaper. He said he reviews articles to look for hidden meanings and to make sure controversial issues are presented fairly.

Lauren Miller, a senior at Howland High School, said Thomas once censored specific names from one of her articles regarding a school-related incident.

‘‘I feel that prior review is necessary for all newspapers,'' said Miller. ‘‘With it certain things can be censored that may not be appropriate or may possibly hurt another person, intentionally or unintentionally. Although people are entitled to freedom of the press, I think it is fair that they (school officials) review them (newspaper issues) and possibly cut things out. As long as the administration and staff are understanding with one another, I see no problem with it.

Bowen, however, said she has a different view of the situation. ‘‘The minute he (Thomas) ‘looks' at all, the publication is no longer an open forum,'' said Bowen. ‘‘This also shows he has hired a teacher but doesn't trust him or her and doesn't trust students, trained, one hopes, in journalism, to make good decisions.''

Hubbard High School principal Larry Lushinsky reviews the Hub before printing. Lushinsky said there is ‘‘no censoring due to content.'' He said he eliminates anything that may be embarrassing, harmful, offensive, hearsay or demeaning, as well as any grammatical mistakes.

Lushinsky said he only wants ‘‘fair'' journalism.

‘‘How can you not censor for content when the things he mentions are content?'' said Bowen. ‘‘It's strange -- a principal rarely, if ever, goes into a chemistry classroom and tells a science teacher the experiment is too dangerous. He doesn't assume he knows all about chemistry. Yet for some reason, many principals assume they know good journalism without any media or communications training.''

Denah Julian, a recent Hubbard graduate who wrote for the Hub for two years, said her story on Hubbard High School's plan to implement uniforms was censored. Julian said she talked to two administrators who had opposing views on the issue. She said the administration didn't like that the story revealed the opposite viewpoints and demanded she change the story to present a unified stance on the issue.

‘‘I complained about it to the (journalism) teacher,'' said Julian. ‘‘She said, ‘Can we change it so it doesn't look like this,' and I said, ‘But that's how it is.'''

Julian said she eventually changed the wording of the story so it did not look as black and white but kept the different views.

‘‘For the most part, they (the administration) let us write about pretty much anything we want to,'' said Julian. She said the newspaper has written stories on drinking, drugs and sex.

‘‘I think the school's administration should be able to review publications. After all, you can't publish gossip in a high school paper,'' said Julian. ‘‘What they tried to censor in my article shouldn't have been censored, though. They were facts. It was just the truth. I didn't do anything except report what they said."

Harding High School's video production teacher Fred Whitacre said he does not censor the school news before it is aired, but also said that nothing is aired that would cause offense to anyone.

Bowen said that ‘‘offense'' is in the eye of the beholder. ‘‘If Woodward and Bernstein didn't want to offend Nixon, would we have ever gotten to the bottom of a really bad situation?'' said Bowen. ‘‘Sometimes the truth needs telling and it might upset someone, but the end result would be a better world or community or school.''

‘‘As an American, I value my rights to freedom of expression,'' said Justin Fisher, a Howland High School junior. ‘‘By being allowed to express myself, I feel truly free. In other countries without freedoms similar to the ones we have through the First Amendment, people are arrested just for speaking their mind. I appreciate the First Amendment and the freedoms that it promises.''

‘‘I can't stress enough how students, working with a journalism teacher who has had thorough training, learn so much more as far as critical thinking, seeking balance, et cetera,'' said Bowen. ‘‘When someone tells them what to print and think, they quit trying.''

Alison Kemp of Howland High School contributed to this story.

This story won "honorable mention" in the news competition in the Youth Editorial Alliance.

Update: Miami school board appeals decision

The Miami-Dade County School board voted 5-2 on August 22 to appeal a federal judge's decision which keeps a book about life in Cuba on school library shelves.

According to the Miami Herald, U.S. District Judge Alan Gold delivered an 89-page opinion rejecting the school board's argument for banning "Vamos a Cuba" from the library and its English-language version "A Visit to Cuba" from school libraries. A parent complained the book portrayed a favorable image of the Communist country.

The American Civil Liberties Union said this is the largest legal battle over book censorship at a U.S. public school since 1982. The ACLU believes the ban violates the First Amendment.

The book is part of a series of educational books that covers 20 countries.

Gold wrote that the board, ``abused its discretion in a manner that violated the transcendent imperatives of the First Amendment.''

A recent Miami Herald staff editorial urged the school board to not appeal the decision. Both the ACLU and the school board are seeking to take the case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Student sues school over graduation music

A May high school graduate is suing her school after being told she and 16 other students could not play an instrumental version of "Ave Maria" at graduation.

Kathryn Nurre said she is suing the school because Henry M. Jackson High School (Seattle) students have been allowed for years to pick what song they would like to perform at graduation. She suspects the school banned "Ave Maria" because it is too religious. The students had already performed the song at a 2004 concert.

"It was our graduation and it was our choice to pick the piece," Nurre told the Seattle Times. “I was all for it (the suit) because I didn't know there was anything I could do."

The school district did not return calls to the Seattle Times about the lawsuit.

Journalism teacher removed as adviser

A California journalism teacher has been reassigned to teach only English classes after his students ran a story in February about a girl who had run away.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, College Park (Pleasant Hill, Cal.) High School teacher Andrew Nolan was removed as journalism adviser because of several stories that ran in the student newspaper, including a story about a runaway girl that already ran in other news outlets. Other stories have covered topics such as student discipline, broken computers, and a job shadow program the newspaper portrayed as faulty.

Principal Barbara Oaks said, "It is the principal's prerogative to make staffing assignments."

However, Nolan said he was just trying to let the students do their jobs.

"I really do idealize the freedom of the press," Nolan said. "When someone tries to oppress it, that offends me."

Teacher resigns, settles after nude photos posted

Tamara Hoover, a former high school art teacher who was suspended without pay in May after posing naked on a web site, is resigning, according to KEYE-TV.

The Austin Independent School District school board voted 8-1 to settle with Hoover for $14,850.

Hoover received suport at a previous school board meeting from thirty parents, teachers, students and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Hoover said her First Amendment rights were being violated, and wishes to talk once the settlement is completed.

ACLU sues over book ban

Miami's public school system is finding itself the subject of a lawsuit after banning a book, according to Reuters.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing after the Miami-Dade County School Board voted to remove the book, "Vamos a Cuba" and its English-language version "A Visit to Cuba" from school libraries. A parent complained the book portrayed a favorable image of the Communist country.

The ACLU said this is the largest legal battle over book censorship at a U.S. public school since 1982. The ACLU believes the ban violates the First Amendment.

The book is part of a series of educational books that covers 20 countries.

Principal blocks newspaper's June issue

A high school principal is preventing a student newspaper from printing its June issue after a May edition featured a story with student opinions on sex, according to students at La Serna High School.

The California Newspapers Publishers Association reports the principal was going to allow a June issue to run if he had prior approval over stories, however, he halted publication because of a story about the newspaper adviser being asked to resign over the May issue.

The June issue's theme was "Unsung Heroes."

California is one of six states to protect student free expression beyond what the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled. The students have not yet decided if they will take legal action.

Nebraska students win First Amendment contest

Two students from the University of Nebraska who explained what the First Amendment means to them are now a little bit richer.

According to News Net Nebraska, Advertising student Brandy Rivers won $1000, and broadcasting student Kelli Donnelly won $400 for their essays on flag burning.

Rivers wrote, "Ironically, those who burn or otherwise destroy the American flag in order to spit in the country's face are perhaps the most shining examples of the rights afforded them by the First Amendment.

"These people have the ability to openly protest their government's policies without fear of retribution based solely on their ideas. The Constitution allows them not only to speak for their own benefit but also for the awareness of others, introducing opinions and beliefs into the marketplace of ideas to be sampled, embraced, or tossed aside."

Donnelly added, "Although the American flag is an important American symbol, and I certainly would never condone its desecration, the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment are a much more important symbol, and an amendment banning flag burning would take away a key protection of the First Amendment. Issues involving basic understanding of protected freedoms and the limits on how much of those basic freedoms can be taken away underlie this proposed amendment, which I believe would send us on a slippery slope with potentially no end."

The University of Kentucky's First Amendment Center sponsored the contest, which attracted 83 entries from 15 schools in 11 states.

Lawyers share citizenry with students

When lawyers meet with high school students, it's often to create a plea bargain. However, at a Cleveland high school, attorney Hugh McKay met with students to teach them about citizenship and the U.S. Constitution.

South High students were the first to participate in a new program called the 3Rs: Rights, Responsibilities, and Realities, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The program starts this fall.

In this program, lawyers will meet with students to discuss the Constitution. McKay has recruited about 100 lawyers, and wants to recruit 400 more. McKay hopes the program will help students pass the civics portion of the Ohio Graduation Test.

SPJ fighting for campus publications

The Society of Professional Journalists wants campus publications to be free.

SPJ is encouraging universities to designate student publications as forums free from administrative control, according to the Student Press Law Center.

The SPJ is sending universities the following statement:

"Student media are designated public forums, and free from censorship and advance approval of content. Because content and funding are unrelated, student media are free to develop editorial policies and news coverage with the understanding that students and student organizations speak only for themselves. Administrators, faculty, staff or other agents shall not consider the student media's content when making decisions regarding the media's funding."

The organization is also encouraging students by sending them wallet sized cards with the same statement that is being sent to universities.

SPJ is reacting to the Hosty v. Carter decision, which allows universities to censor college newspapers. The case used Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier as precedent; a case that allowed high school newspapers to fall under censorship.

For more information, contact Mead Loop, vice president for the campus chapter affairs for SPJ: (607) 274-3047 or

Student protests for Confederate flag

A 15-year-old South Carolina student is protesting against her school after being told to stop displaying the Confederate flag, the Associated Press reported.

Candice Hardwick was told to turn her t-shirt inside out, to stop wearing a Confederate flag belt buckle, to stop displaying a Confederate flag button and on stop displaying the flag on her cell phone cover.

As a result, the Latta High School student marched to school in late May with about a dozen other people, some of them wearing Confederate t-shirts. She was joined by a former African-American NAACP leader, who dressed in Civil War attire.

School officials said they "have clothing issues every year…and we've handled it consistently each time."

In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that the First Amendment protects students' political expressions during school hours as long as it does not substantially disrupt learning. A circuit court of appeals in Atlanta upheld a ruling allowing a school to ban the Confederate flag.

Illinois students can be punished for blog content

Students at Libertyville High School (Ill.) and Vernon Hills High School (Ill.) will have to be careful when making posts on social networking sites and blogs.

According to the Associated Press, the board of Community High School District 128 passed a resolution that if a student participates in an extra curricular activity, he/she must sign a pledge agreeing not to participate in "illegal or inappropriate" behavior on the internet, which could lead to disciplinary action. School officials said the rule will take place this fall.

School officials said they won't monitor web sites, but will look into matters when presented with a tip.

First Amendment advocates say school officials have no right to censor off campus speech.

Boy in dress sent away from prom

A high school student was turned away from his high school prom when he showed up wearing a dress.

Kevin Logan, an 18-year old senior at West Side High School (Gary, Ind.) who has worn women's clothing to school, is condsidering filing a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and possible legislation.

Logan, who is gay, said he was discriminated against. The school maintains its decision was based on a dress code, not sexual peference.

Pa. teens to appeal decision barring poem

Students at Wyoming Valley West High School in Pennsylvania are appealing their school district's decision to bar publication of a poem in a literary magazine. The poem is about a teacher catching a student without a hall pass.

According to The Associated Press, the author of the poem "Episode of Pure Defiance" agreed to remove the teacher's name from the poem, but the school still refused to include it in the annual publication of Interim magazine. The teacher named in the poem initially agreed to have her name included, but later changed her mind.

"It's a good poem. There's no merit to the argument that it shouldn't be published," said Lindsey O'Brien, 18, a senior who works on the magazine.

Student magazine staffers say they plan to take their case to the school board.

Student permitted to read poem with profanities

A 14 year-old student can recite a poem containing the words "hell" and "damn" at a state poetry competition, according to a recent federal judicial ruling. The Coral Academy of Science sought to ban the student from Reno, Nevada from reading the famous poem, "The More Loving One," by W.H. Auden because it violates a ban on the use of profanity by students, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.

According to Judge Brian Sandovan, the defendants (Coral Academy) apparently consider the poem inappropriate because it contains language that conflicts with the school's policies against students general use of profanity. However, "(profanity) when spoken in the context of a poem at a school-authorized, off-campus competition and written by a nationally recognized poet, the court finds that the language sought to be censured cannot even remotely cause a disruption of the educational mission." ___

The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well That, for all they care, I can go to hell, But on earth indifference is the least We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn With a passion for us we could not return? If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am Of stars that do not give a damn, I cannot, now I see them, say I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die, I should learn to look at an empty sky And feel its total dark sublime, Though this might take me a little time.

-- W. H. Auden

Student sent home for wearing t-shirt

A high school senior found himself going home from school last week after wearing a t-shirt reading. "It's Great to be Straight" in protest of the National Day of Silence, the Ithaca Journal reported. The day is a nationwide event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to bring attention to harassment of gay, lesbian and bisexual students.

John Swanhart, a senior at Charles O. Dickerson High School (Trumansburg, NY), wanted to present his side on the Day of Silence, but was told if he wanted to wear the shirt, he had to arrange for a specific day and would need an adviser to sponsor him.

Other students were also sent home for wearing similar shirts and for refusing to change into different clothes.

Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra defended sending the students home, explaining the shirts could have created an unsafe environment.

"Living in a free society, people can't feel threatened to live any way they want to be," Tangorra said. "School districts need to be one of the safest, if not the safest, place for students to expand their thinking."

By censoring the students, the school has raised free speech issues. Charles Hayes, senior scholar with the First Amendment Center says the school has to prove the shirts would cause a serious disruption.

"It's a little bit of a gray area right now," Hayes said. "There have been issues in the past with T-shirts. Different parts of the country go in different directions."

First Amendment violators

Five public high school administrators were listed as winners of a "dubious" award honoring 2005's biggest violators of the First Amendment. The 15th annual "Jefferson's Muzzle" awards, selected by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, highlight the biggest censors of 2005 by publicly recognizing the most egregious attempts to limit free speech and expression.

According to, Oak Ridge High School (Tenn.) administrators were cited as one of the top First Amendment violators of the year for seizing a student newspaper because it discussed birth control and showed images of body art. Berkmar High School (Ga.) Principal Kendall Johnson was also awarded a Muzzle for censoring a school newspaper article about the new gay-and-lesbian student club on campus.

Other winners of this year's "dubious honor" included the Bush administration's warrant less wiretaps and the U.S. Department of Justice for its now infamous subpoena of Google. For more information about this year's Muzzle Awards visit

Middle school newspapers censored

A pair of newspaper stories has prompted school officials to halt distribution of a middle school newspaper, the Daily Tarheel reports.

The stories, one about an assault on a school bus and the other about the school's public displays of affection policy, prompted administrators to block distributing 500 issues of the Smith Middle School (N.C.) student newspaper, The Cyclone Scoop.

A newspaper staffer involved in the bus incident is pictured, and principal Valerie Reinhardt said the newspaper was canned to protect students' confidentiality.

"I'm not trying to assume it was gathered inappropriately, I just don't know that students knew they were being quoted for the paper," Reinhardt said.

Cyclone staff member Jacob Hoerger, an eighth grader, wrote an e-mail to The (Raleigh) News & Observer expressing his displeasure.

"I thought it wasn't fair because we had worked really hard on it, and we had learned about the freedom of the press in social studies, and you can't just censor something like that," Hoerger said.

Journalism teacher receives First Amendment award

A high school journalism adviser was honored recently for defending the First Amendment.

Deb Kalina, the adviser to the Kodak at Everett High School (Wa.) was honored with the Washington Journalism Education Association's Fern Valentine Freedom of Expression Award. Two seniors, Claire Lueneburg and Sara Eccleston, who are suing the school district for control of the student newspaper, nominated Kalina. According to the Herald newspaper, the conflict began when the new principal asked to review the newspaper before going to press, something that had not happened at Everett for at least 17 years.

As the trial approaches on May 29, 2007, The Kodak has ceased publication as students publish The Independent Kodak off-campus with their own computers and money.

Kalina said the First Amendment is important because students need to make their own decisions.

"There's really a thin line between a coach and an adviser and a militaristic kind of control," Kalina said. "Eventually, you're going to have to send them out in the world to make their own choices."

Censored high school story to run

A high school newspaper story that was yanked by administrators is going to run after all, according to the Post-Gazette.

Canon-McMillan (Pa.) High School officials pulled Danielle Hibler's story about the "choking game", a practice middle school students participate in by choking themselves to achieve a high. The "game" can lead to brain damage or even death. School officials feared the article would encourage other students to use the method.

However, Hibler's public campaign attracted national attention, prompting the school to withdraw from censoring her story.

Parents will receive a letter providing medical information about the choking game along with Hibler's article, which is slated to run in the April edition of the school newspaper, the C-M Times.

First Amendment rights supporter earns scholarship

Many high school students spend their spring breaks lounging around the house or tanning on the beach. Tyler Buller, editor of the Johnston High School (Iowa) student newspaper, spent his vacation accepting a scholarship in Washington D.C. for First Amendment awareness.

According to the Des Moines Register, the 17-year-old senior was awarded the Al Neuharth Free Spirit Award for editorials on school board elections, and essays about free speech and democracy. Buller said he wasn't expecting to win the $1000 scholarship.

"I was really surprised," Buller said. "It was probably the biggest long-shot scholarship I’ve applied for."

During his trip, Buller had dinner at the National Press Club, met Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert.

Buller's teacher, Leslie Shipp, said the student stands up for what he believes in.

"He's not afraid to question me or things going on around him, even when it's controversial to question these things," Shipp said.

Georgia law would put Bible in the classroom

High school students in Georgia are used to toting around their math, English, and chemistry books--but if a new state law passes, the Bible will be another textbook students can keep in their lockers.

Passing both the chambers of the state legislature, the bill is up for a final vote that would require schools to teach the history and literature of the Bible, according to the Christian Science Monitor. While many schools already offer courses which utilize the Bible, Georgia would be the first state to require its Department of Education to create Bible curriculum.

Critics say Catholics and Jews have different names for the bill's terms, such as Old and New Testament, which reflects a Protestant bias.

"To pick one is to suggest that is the right Bible, which is a school district making a faith statement," said Judith Miller, a lawyer for People for the American Way.

However, the bill's sponsors believe the proposed curriculum will allow students to develop a greater understanding of Western culture.

"The biggest misconception is that this teaches the Bible when, in fact, it uses the Bible as the primary text to teach a course in history and literature influenced by the Bible," said a spokesman for Sen. Tommie Williams (R).

Spoof Mich. Web site removed after threat

A spoof Web site that mocked the Ann Arbor, Mich., school board and superintendent has been shut down after the district threatened legal action against its originators, including the possibility of criminal charges, the Ann Arbor News has reported.

The identity of the Web site's creator had been a mystery until March 8 when school spokeswoman Liz Margolis said it was Alan Pagliere, an Ann Arbor man who sued the district early last year over salamanders at the site of its new high school. Pagliere is also the Web master of another site,, which criticizes the district over the building of a new high school.

The dismantling of the satirical Web site, which closely resembled the real district site in appearance, came after attorneys sent a cease-and-desist letter to Arizona-based Domains By Proxy Inc. The company hosts Web sites for individuals, or registrants, who create the content.

U.S. Supreme Court will not hear Hosty case

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Feb. 21 that it would not hear a case that questioned the authority of administrators at an Illinois university to censor a student newspaper that published articles critical of the school. The Court rejected a request by former student journalists at Governors State University in Illinois to review a lower court decision that could give university officials in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin the authority to censor some college student speech based on a legal standard that had previously been applied only to high school and elementary school students and teachers.

The Court's ruling lets stand a June 2005 decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that could open the door to providing university administrators with authority to censor school-sponsored speech by public college students and faculty, including speech in some student newspapers, at schools in those states. In essence, the decision could open the door for the so-called Hazelwood standard to be applied at the collegiate level.

Fla. school, ACLU settle Pledge of Allegiance law

The Palm Beach (Fla.) Board of Education has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed Dec. 22 against the school by a high school junior and the American Civil Liberties Union for allegedly punishing the student for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Student Cameron Frazier will receive $32,500 and Cynthia Alexandre, the teacher who ordered Frazier to leave the classroom after he refused to stand, will be reprimanded in writing.

Student editors sue Wash. district

Two student editors sued the Everett (Wash.) School District Dec. 28, saying the district violated their free speech rights when their school's principal required them to submit the student newspaper for review before distribution. "After going through all of the necessary steps at the district level, we felt that we had exhausted all our efforts," said Everett High School senior Claire Lueneburg, a co-editor of the Kodak, who, along with senior co-editor Sara Eccleston, filed the lawsuit. "We felt that a lawsuit was the next step in this to hopefully get some type of resolution."

In the lawsuit, which was filed in Snohomish County Superior Court but transferred by the school district to a federal court in Seattle, the co-editors argue that the paper has operated as a "student forum" since at least 1989, and that "by history and practice, the students have made all final decision as to editorial content in the newspaper without prior restraint or review by the Everett School District or any of its agents."

Survey finds teens actually consume news

Teens actually are plugged into the news, according to the largest survey ever conducted of them, a $1 million, two-year project to canvas more than 100,000 high school students by University of Connecticut researchers David Yalof and Kenneth Dautrich.

The survey, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, made headlines last year when it revealed that most of the kids didn't know about or care about the First Amendment.

That was the sad news. But there also was some glad news: a telling statistic about youth news consumption. More than half -- 57 percent of the teens, to be precise -- said that they consume news from at least one source every day. More than three-quarters -- 76 percent -- said that they consume news from several sources every week.

  Latest News

External Links


Review of Future of the First Amendment

Two Connecticut researchers have become synonymous with the problem of poor First Amendment awareness in the nation’s high schools.

Ken Dautrich and David Yalof, professors at the University of Connecticut and backed by the Knight Foundation, have logged thousands of miles nationwide in developing a series of studies and followups about the First Amendment. more


SPLC Exec. Director talks to Ball State students about 'Digital Freedom'

IHSPA 2008 State Convention: The Convergention

Bloggers and Online News Users are Better Informed on First Amendment

Dautrich and Yalof Publish book on First Amendment


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