Members of the initial group of 45words student partners distribute pins and information about the importance of free expression at a recent JEA/NSPA convention.
What 45 words are we talking about?
Glad you asked.
Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission created Student Partners as a way to help students connect with their peers to support, protect and spread awareness about the First Amendment.
Students represent schools from around the nation.
See comments from Megan Morris, one the first 45words students, here.
In addition to planning and hosting press rights events at local, state and national conventions, the team will contact schools reporting censorship and offer assistance. The 45 words team can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45words. The Facebook group is 45words.
If you go to 45words.org, you’ll find the 45words blog, written by the Student Partners, and resources relating to censorship fights and bios of each Student Partner, should you wish to contact us individually. Comment, Facebook message, tweet or, if you want to go old-school, e-mail us if you have a question about censorship. We’re here to help!
Here’s the link to the live application form (Deadline May 20, 2013):
Just like any big event — you remember where you were or what you were doing. Those who were advising scholastic media when the Supreme Court announced Hazelwood v.Kuhlmeier 25 years ago probably can recall their reactions — and maybe those of their administrators as well.
My own recollection: The principal, a fairly supportive guy, motioned me into his office. “Have you heard the decision?” Of course I knew what he meant. “Yes.” I smiled and added, “But there’s no room for you to moved your desk up to the X-Ray office.”
Luckily the St. Charles High School student newspaper, the X-Ray, didn’t face prior review. There had been some sticky moments in the past, but I got along well with this principal and his successor a short time later.
Not everyone had such smooth sailing. One way to find out what happened then and what changes followed was to talk to advisers who were in the classroom and student media newsroom both before Jan. 13, 1988 and after. What impact did they see from that landmark Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision? What difference did it make to them and their students and others they observed?
That’s why the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State took advantage of the Fall 2012 JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in San Antonio to interview four such advisers who were attending. All taught at that time, and one is still in the classroom while the other three are retired but very much involved with high school media as mentors in the Journalism Education Association program and press association board members.
Gary Lindsay, JEA regional director recently retired from Kennedy High School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was only in his second year of advising when Hazelwood came about.
Janet Levin, adviser in 1988 and today at John Hersey High School, Arlington Heights, Ill., remembers the local media reaching her when she didn’t yet know the decision.
At Homestead High School in Cupertino, Cal., Nick Ferentinos’ principal almost immediately took what he saw as an opportunity to remove an article in progress about an HIV-positive student.
Wayne Dunn, president of the Ohio Scholastic Media Association and JEA mentor, had been advising four years at Lebanon (Ohio) High School in 1988.
See what they had to say. Did Hazelwood have the kind of impact journalism educators feared in 1988? According to these four advisers who have seen the before and after, yes, the chilling effect on student journalists has indeed made a difference, and it hasn’t been a good one.
The Journalism Education Association today reaffirmed its opposition to prior review, prior restraint and their use under the guidelines established in the Hazelwood decision.
JEA’s board of directors unanimously took this stand as it voted to endorse a resolution by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication that said, in part, “the Hazelwood level of control over student journalistic speech is clearly incompatible with the effective teaching of journalistic skills, values and practices, and that institutions of secondary and postsecondary education should forswear reliance on Hazelwood as a source of authority for the governance of student and educator expression.”
JEA’s resolution differed slightly from the AEJMC model as it focused more directly on scholastic journalism.
“This resolution is important for two reasons,” JEA president Mark Newton said. “Anytime we can partner with our college colleagues in AEJMC it shows incredible solidarity. And, most importantly, as the leading scholastic journalism education group, we must stand tall and scream at injustice. Make no mistake the Hazelwood Supreme Court decision and its subsequent interpretations are an injustice to education, students, advisers and the First Amendment.”
The JEA resolution states, in part: “The Journalism Education Association (JEA) joins with the Association of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in stating that no legitimate pedagogical purpose is served by the censorship of student journalism on the grounds that it reflects unflatteringly on school policies and programs, that it candidly discusses sensitive social and political issues, or that it voices opinions challenging to majority views on matters of public concern. The censorship of such speech, or the punishment of media advisers based on that speech, is detrimental to effective learning and teaching, and it cannot be justified by reference to “pedagogical concerns.”
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said, “Because Hazelwood requires schools to present a justification for censorship that is “’legitimate’ and is based on “pedagogical” concerns, the consensus of the nation’s journalism professors as to what constitutes a legitimate educational reason for censorship should carry persuasive value with judges.”
In a second resolution, also passed unanimously, JEA endorsed an Illinois Journalism Education Association resolution had three major points:
• that the Illinois Journalism Education Association urges school district and school administrators to preserve, enhance and support independent student media; and
• the Illinois Journalism Education Association supports and defends media advisers and strongly urges the end of random reassignment or removal of advisers without due cause, and
• the Illinois Journalism Education Association applauds and staunchly defends the efforts of journalism educators for providing students the skills and education to produce free, responsible and independent student media.
“In any way possible,” Newton said, “JEA has an obligation to support advisers whose jobs and livelihoods are targeted for advocating and supporting student freedom of expression. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to have such a resolution like the one IJEA has written. However, it’s quite apparent that we have a lot of work to do to not only raise awareness, but take one further step to making sure advisers know that we support them, their students and their programs.”
JEA’s Hazelwood resolution can be downloaded here. The Illinois resolution here. The AEJMC resolution here.
JEA’s press rights commission will announce the next step in the resolution process within a couple of days.
In a surveytaken at the San Antonio JEA and NSPA convention last November, students and advisers reported censorship was alive and well in America’s schools. Forty-two percent of students and 41 percent of advisers responding said school officials had told them not to publish or air something. Fifty-four percent of students indicated a school official reviewed student media content before publication or airing.
Both groups also incited self-censorship was an issue, prompting SPLC director Frank LoMonte to lay some of the blame for situations like these on the 1988 Hazelwood decision.
“Schools will continue to be disempowering places where no meaningful discussion of civic issues takes place so long as Hazelwood censorship is practiced,” he said.
Fortunately, some schools can and do tackle important issues and are not limited by misguided administrators. Others can learn from their efforts.
One example where students tackled substantive issues is the Verde at Palo Alto High School, in California, where they reported on a “rape culture” at their school. Another is the Triangle of Columbus North High School in Columbus, Indiana, which published on sexual assault. Both stories reinforce the importance of issues teens face as seen in events in Steubenville, Ohio, and Saratoga, California.
Below are links to these students’ reporting, and related stories. These stories are models of reporting student media is capable of when communities, school administrators and advisers support critical thinking and student decision making.
In the next several weeks, we will also report other efforts not only to limit Hazelwood’s impact but also to recognize schools around the country through our Make a Difference through substantive reporting project.
The SPLC developed its Cure Hazelwood website to help combat the effects of that 1988 Supreme Court decision, and JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Association prepared its Seeking a Cure for the Hazelwood Blues and Teacher’s Kit for Curing Hazelwoodmaterials to educate all parties about the lack of education value in prior review and restrict by school officials. A myriad of essential curriculum materials and information about fighting Hazelwood exists on the Scholastic Press Rights Commission website.
For more information about the Verde and Triangle stories, see below:
by Jeff Kocur
The student government at my school made a questionable attempt to spice up our March Madness spirit week, and the assistant principal let it happen.
He is new this year, and it was a refreshing presence of ethics from the assistant principal’s office, which has previously ruled with a pretty heavy hand.
I saw the whole thing happen as I waited to meet with the student government adviser.
The students wanted to designate a spirit day called “Bros versus Hipsters.”
Our school is quite diverse and the assistant principal, himself a black man, was sitting down with the student government students to discuss what kind of message might be portrayed when students dress up like a bro. In our school and in our community, a bro would be closely affiliated with inner city culture, and we had a history of other incidents with sports teams full of white boys dressing up with do rags and such in the name of spirit.
The assistant principal listened, presented his concerns, and then allowed the students to make the decision about changing the spirit day.
The decision was unanimous to keep the spirit day, and they hung signs up within a day to advertise for the next week’s spirit.
It didn’t take more than a day for the student government members to remove the bro designation after they received some negative feedback including a homemade sign taped to their spirit day signs that read “just because we are black does not make us bros” or something to that extent
I spoke with the assistant principal, a man I am still getting to know. I told him how much I appreciated his process with the students, and his response was encouraging.
He explained his principle is that he can’t come into an environment and tell kids how to act ethically because then they aren’t practicing ethics; they are just following orders. They aren’t growing as people if they aren’t allowed to do some questionable things and perhaps suffer the consequences of those actions.
Student leaders have not been so empowered before at my school, especially when it comes to the newspaper, so I am encouraged we have someone who is speaking these truths.