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TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Bypassing the FERPA roadblock to tell compelling stories about school disciplinary trends

(09/04/12 6:42pm)

Statistics about discipline are some of the most closely guarded secrets that schools keep -- but they're also some of the most essential for the public to know about. It's now well-documented that nonwhite students are singled out disproportionately for expulsion or suspension, for the same infractions that would merely earn a white student a stern lecture. Recently, the U.S.

Florida colleges ask court to revisit FERPA case involving student who complained about professor

(09/11/12 4:50pm)

More than two dozen Florida colleges and universities have filed a brief in support of a Florida college’s appeal after it was ordered to turn over an email from a student about a professor. After his contract wasn’t renewed in 2009, Darnell Rhea, a former adjunct professor at Santa Fe College, asked to see an email between a former student and one of his supervisors concerning his conduct.

Now that we know FERPA is unconstitutional, what do we do about it?

(09/13/12 4:26pm)

In today's Inside Higher Ed, I make the case for why the federal student privacy law, FERPA, almost certainly will be struck down as unconstitutional if challenged. The law's requirements -- that a school or college enforce the confidentiality of "education records" or forfeit every dollar of federal education money -- are so coercive that they flunk the standard set by the U.S.

After college spikes story on professor's arrest, student editor publishes it himself

(09/26/12 1:34pm)

When the editor of Bryan College’s newspaper learned there was more to a professor’s resignation than had first appeared, he looked into the incident and started reporting. Using public records, Alex Green discovered that assistant professor David Morgan’s resignation was preceded by a June arrest in which he was charged with attempted aggravated child molestation, attempted child molestation and sexual exploitation of a child. Green planned a story on the arrests, but before it could run in last Friday’s issue of The Bryan College Triangle, college administrators at the private Dayton, Tenn., college told him he couldn’t run the story.

SPJ approves resolution supporting legal efforts to end FERPA

(09/28/12 2:18pm)

The Society of Professional Journalists is formally supporting legal efforts to bring an end to FERPA, the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, following a resolution passed last week. The resolution, which passed unanimously at the group’s annual convention, encourages the news media legal community to find a strong case to challenge the constitutionality of FERPA under the Supreme Court’s “Obamacare” ruling. The 1974 law requires schools to keep “educational records” private or risk losing federal funding, something that has never happened in the 38 years the law has been in place.

Athletic department threatens to revoke student magazines press credentials over its livetweeting

(09/28/12 4:25pm)

Like many college papers last Saturday, The Stony Brook Press live tweeted its school’s football game — only their tweets made no references to football. Stony Brook gets stuck in the sand trap and Colgate wins their first power play — Stony Brook Press (@sbpress) September 22, 2012 Colgate turns their yellow card into a double to second base — Stony Brook Press (@sbpress) September 22, 2012 The tweets (view a Storify here) prompted a threat from the athletic department to revoke the newspaper’s press credentials if they did not start using correct football terminology.

Amid breastfeeding professor controversy, American University discusses role of student media

(09/28/12 4:38pm)

The role of student media came under fire after American University’s student newspaper, The Eagle, interviewed an associate professor about breastfeeding in class. The story generated national attention before the paper ever even wrote about it, and Thursday, media and school representatives gathered to talk about the role of student journalism and their rights, as well as what qualifies as news. “Journalists serve the public interest, but that is not the same as what the public is interested in,” said John Watson, an American University associate professor who was one of the panelists on the forum held at the campus. The panel consisted of Watson, Director of Media and Interactive Journalism Amy Eisman, Student Press Law Center Executive Director Frank LoMonte, Associated Press Reporter Brett Zongker and was lead by Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the School of Communication Rose Ann Robertson. The Eagle was unfairly criticized as a third-rate, sexist, anti-woman publication targeting faculty, hounding sources and asking biased and sophomoric questions, Robertson said. “They do make mistakes because they have the unfortunate liability of relying on human beings but it’s a very good paper,” Watson said. One of the functions of a news media is to put controversial issues on the public agenda, Watson said.