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TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: It's 10 o'clock -- do you know where your college president is? You would, if you had his calendar.

(04/30/13 8:08pm)

Ever wish you had one of those electronic manatee tracking collars to keep tabs on where government officials are going -- the ones who are always "out of the office" or "in meetings" and unavailable for interviews? Well, until they start microchipping college presidents (note: that would be great), journalists will have to settle for the next best thing: Appointment calendars. Last week, a Pennsylvania court decided that reporters for the Associated Press are entitled under that state's open-records act to complete copies of Gov.



TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Colleges' "if you're suicidal, you're expelled" policies deserve greater scrutiny

(04/23/13 9:25pm)

A Western Michigan University undergraduate says he was thrown out of school and banned from college premises after being hospitalized for clinical depression. Jackson Peebles told the Western Herald that, even after his own physician gave him a note clearing him to return to school, WMU initially refused to readmit him, alleging he violated a student conduct code against "[c]ausing physical harm to self or others," although he neither attempted suicide nor threatened anyone else.


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Federal appeals court puts a stop to the "FOIA death spiral"

(04/02/13 7:29pm)

For years, federal agencies have been freezing journalists in public-records purgatory with a maddening tactic: The "thanks for your request, we'll respond to it (someday)" letter. It's the bureaucratic equivalent of the spinning beach ball of death, and twice as frustrating. Getting the "non-response response" letter trapped the requester in a no-win predicament.


Nation's leading journalism educators say there's nothing "legitimate" or "educational" in Hazelwood censorship

(04/03/13 4:09pm)

Twenty-five years after the U.S. Supreme Court told public schools they could lawfully censor students for any reason "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns," the nation's leading journalism educators are calling for an end to the misuse of that legal authority to stifle discussion of controversial topics. In a resolution unanimously approved by its board, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) urges K-12 schools to refrain from abusing the Supreme Court's 1988 ruling, Hazelwood School District v.


Hawaii risks turning one of America's best reporter's privilege laws into one of the worst

(04/05/13 12:57pm)

Urged on by the state attorney general, a Hawaii Senate committee is proposing to drastically narrow the state's 2008 reporter shield statute, putting the ability of student journalists to protect confidential sources at risk. In amendments approved Wednesday, a Senate committee pared back the scope of the reporter's privilege so that it would benefit only journalists "professionally associated" with traditional news organizations. The current Hawaii statute enables two classes of people to protect their unpublished material and the identity of their sources if confronted with a demand in connection with a legal proceeding: (1) "[A] journalist or newscaster presently or previously employed by or otherwise professionally associated with any newspaper or magazine or any digital versiona thereof." (2) A person who can demonstrate by "clear and convincing evidence" that he or she "has regularly and materially participated in the reporting or publishing of news or information of substantial public interest for the purpose of dissemination to the general public" or that he or she occupies a position "materially similar or identical to that of a journalist or newscaster." It's that second class of protected people that Attorney General David M.


The forecast for public access to teacher performance data under Florida's Sunshine Law: Mostly cloudy

(04/11/13 8:10am)

After a Florida court declared that reports about teacher performance must be kept confidential for a year after they are created, a state legislator is proposing to keep the information off-limits for even longer. A bill filed Monday by state Rep.


The Battle of Latta (2003-2013): Last stand for the Confederate flag (and the First Amendment) in public schools?

(04/14/13 9:42pm)

If you want to get technical about it, the Civil War has been over for 148 years. Still, sporadic fighting breaks out occasionally -- as it did in a South Carolina school district over the right to wear a Confederate flag to school. When the encyclopedia of student free-speech law is written, an entire chapter will be needed just to encompass Confederate battle flag cases.


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Are college students wasting time and money re-learning high school coursework?

(04/16/13 9:17pm)

When students arrive on campus underprepared for the rigors of college coursework, everybody pays. Colleges must invest in offering "developmental" classes in math and English, and students end up paying full-freight tuition for courses that generally do not count toward the credit-hours needed for a degree. The cost of remedial education -- and whether it's being over-used -- is a topic of intense focus in the education press and in the school reform field. A recently published study shows that a rising percentage of Colorado high school graduates -- as many as 60 percent in some municipalities -- require remediation when they enter college. While such statistics suggest colleges are overrun with academic stragglers, there is in fact some indication that developmental courses are being over-prescribed because of unreliable placement tests, and that a substantial share of those enrolled in remedial coursework don't need to be there. Student journalists should take advantage of the many publicly available databases and reports to localize this phenomenon on their own campuses. The expense of remedial coursework -- paying college tuition prices for what should've been taught in high school at no cost -- is part of the larger story about soaring college costs and student loan debt, and it's part of the reason so many students need more than the traditional four years to earn a degree.