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Censorship of Teachers and Students

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The Center adds that over the past two years there has been a drastic increase in the number of student papers being stolen once published or put out for consumption. This occurs at both high school and collegiate levels.

Likewise, Sommer Ingram Dean, staff attorney at the Student Press Law Center, states "There's been a growing hostility between student publications and the administration and the community they're seeking to cover."

According to the Freedom Forum Institute: "Public school students do not lose their constitutional rights when they walk through the schoolhouse doors. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that "students in school as well as out of school are 'persons' under our Constitution." This means that they possess First Amendment rights to express themselves in a variety of ways. They can write articles for the school newspaper, join clubs, distribute literature, and petition school officials. "

However, "public school students do not possess unlimited First Amendment rights. Two legal principles limit their rights. First, as the Supreme Court has said, minors do not possess the same level of constitutional rights as adults. Second, the government generally has greater power to dictate policy when it acts in certain capacities, such as educator, employer or jailer. For instance, a school principal can restrict a student from cursing a teacher in class or in the hallway. However, the principal would have limited, if any, authority to punish a student for criticizing a school official off-campus." [1]

Finally, the "Free Speech Tracker was launched in 2017 at Georgetown University to monitor threats to political, social and intellectual expression in education, civil society and government. Eight of the 33 entries under "press" involved a student-run newspaper or media group the majority on high school campuses. More than half of the 200 entries, regardless of category, occurred in an academic environment, according to the database."

SELF-CENSORSHIP IN OUR SOCIETY

Whether it be the censoring of sex-education by well meaning parents or the eclipse in teaching evolution or creationism in schools demonstrate that censorship of any kind affects students and educators in many ways.

One of the worst form of censorship is banned books. In 2017, a major attempt to ban any of the works of Howard Zinn in classes in Arkansas took place just a few years after Indiana attempted to do the same.

Much of the most overt censorship in schools seems to come from conservatives. However, conservative teachers do have a good case that some of the more liberal forms of education impinge on their right to express themselves and what they think good character or good educational practices are. For example, any criticism of overt sex education is poo-pooed in states, like California, that are less conservative than Kansas, where I have lived till recently.

EDUCATING OUR STUDENTS

Project Censored has created a wonderful short curriculum on investigating censorship for our students across the nation. The students are first asked to turn outward and investigate their own local media for signs of censorship or self-censorship.

The curriculum desires note; " Most of our media sources are ultimately owned by a very small number of very large media corporations." Students are asked to make a list of all the media they consume in a "typical" day print media, television, video games, music, etc.

Then, the students are told to research and chart who ultimately owns each media example. [2] Instructors and students use http://www.cjr.org/resources/index.php and http://fair.org/interlocking-directorates to help discuss censorship focused on questions of ownership, parent companies, etc. Later, students are asked to "read and critique a daily newspaper or weekly news magazine, preferably one they have never read before. Apply ACME's "Questioning Media" principles, available for FREE download at ACME's web site. "

Another great resource for educators is the "National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is an alliance of more than 50 national non-profits, including literary, artistic, religious, educational, professional, labor and civil liberties groups. They have engaged in direct advocacy and education to support First Amendment principles. NCAC is unique in that they are national in scope, but often local in their approach, as they work with community members to resolve censorship controversies without the need for litigation." [2]

Meanwhile educators and their unions must take strong stand against filtering tools that adversely censor topics in their schools. Steven Brown has written a scathing attack on Rhode Islands' school practices and focused on the internet censorship that makes education worse for allboth teacher and students.

According to Brown,"censorship takes place invisibly, through the use of internet filtering programs that block certain categories of websites or even websites that mention specific words when students use school computers to access the internet. Although primarily designed to prevent access to pornography, the deeply flawed software, and school districts' widespread embrace of it, has a significant impact on classroom teaching. " Brown indicates that websites and videos on school bullying, gun control, on terrorism, and the Middle East were made off limits by these filters.

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)
 

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