Posts made in October 14th, 2009

Questions for those who prior review

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Because of a recent outbreak of situations affecting advisers’ jobs, JEA suggests anyone faced with prior review ask administrators the following questions:

• How does prior review help students learn and advisers practice journalism?

• What is the purpose of the review? To prevent misinformation? To protect the school’s image? To enhance student learning? To provide accurate information to the school’s communities (including voters)? Which of the reasons given for review are educationally valid, fitting within Hazelwood’s framework?

• What happens after review? Deletion of all or part of a story? If deletion, or telling students to remove copy or change it, how does this affect the truthful and accurate reporting a school’s community should expect from its media?

• Would this review be better carried out by students trained in journalism? What skills (and motives) do administrators bring to the review? How does review affect the school’scurriculum, especially student learning? Does review provide the lessons curriculum intended?

• How does administrator review of student work affect the school’s liability? Does administrative or faculty review, since the reviewers are agents of the state, reflect our democratic traditions and heritage? Does review change how community members perceive the truth?

• Isn’t there a better way?

JEA understands not all advisers are permitted to practice without review and restraint. We understand it is often hard for teachers to fight it. We know the pressures that can be brought to bear on jobs. All we ask is advisers and teachers do the best they can to show the educational weakness and lack of logic in prior review. We know teachers sometimes have no choice, no alternative.

But it is up to all of us, as JEA members, to try to create this alternative.

Maybe we ought to look at prior review in terms of ethics, not law. Ethics works best in right versus right situations.

There is no right to prior review.

There is right in letting students makes decisions and thinking critically. Let’s keep working on ways to insist administrators and those who favor limiting student growth through prior review hear more of this viewpoint.

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