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How can my school get involved
in the New Voices campaign? QT21

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Almost a quarter of all states have now passed legislation protecting voice in student media, and instilling the virtues of the First Amendment as state statute for student media. North Dakota’s success in 2015 seemed to spark the latest fire that has seen legislative recognition of student speech in Illinois, Maryland, Vermont and Rhode Island.

That still leaves 38 states without overt student press rights protections, which muddies the waters for students, advisers, and school administrators.

If you live in a state without clear student press protections, work with your state-level scholastic media organizations, professional news organizations and school administrators to show the benefits of doing so.

The most important element of student press protection is that it establishes, state by state, a practical First Amendment laboratory in the schools, where students are empowered to make decisions, develop civic efficacy and establish ethical decision-making guidelines.

It also benefits schools and administrators in that it establishes clear and specific guidelines for student press that would not be acceptable. In most cases, that means libel, invasion or privacy, obscenity, or language that materially disrupts the rights of others to learn.

Students in states that have clear student press protections can also help by sharing the success stories of their real-life practice of the First Amendment in their schools. How has your classroom experience helped you make ethical decisions? How have you become more of a leader because your state law empowered you to do so?

 

Guideline

Support free expression for others in local and larger communities

Stance:

Students in all schools should actively support student press rights legislation in their states and/or other states with active legislation.

Reasoning/suggestions:

The New Voices campaign has successfully created student press protection laws in several states in the last two years. Currently, 13 states explicitly protect student press rights.

Building student media programs by protecting student press laws is one of the most efficacious means of building civically minded students. In a time when the media is increasingly under fire for the accuracy of their reporting, it’s critical we foster an environment in high schools which promotes ethical, truthful and accurate storytelling while protecting students’ rights to tell those stories.

Teachers and students who would like to be active in this movement, should contact their JEA state directors or reach out to the Student Press Law Center.

Resources:

http://newvoicesus.com/

http://www.splc.org/

JEA updates its Adviser Code of Ethics

Center for Scholastic Journalism Legislative Conference videos

 

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