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JEA endorses legislation
for New Voices in 8 states

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The Journalism Education Association, at its spring convention in Los Angeles, endorsed eight states’ efforts to pass legislation ensuring protection for student expression.

The states are:

“JEA is spot-on to endorse these states’ efforts to pass New Voices legislation,” JEA president Mark Newton said. “Student voice is absolutely essential in all aspects of education. And, it is absolutely essential to participating in a democracy. It is a civic duty to empower — and defend — each freedom in the First Amendment. I am glad to see so many states see the plethora of values of responsible student freedom of expression.”

The eight are part of the New Voices movement, a project of the Student Press Law Center.

According to its website, New Voices hopes such legislation “will restore the Tinker standard of student expression in America’s high schools. That standard protects student speech unless it is libelous, an invasion of privacy or creates a ‘clear and present danger’ of a ‘material and substantial disruption’ of the school.”

When we teach responsible expression to students, and empower them to use it without fear of review or restraint, we will see positive benefits for decades and decades. It’s not only an educational sound best practice, but a civic one as well. – JEA President Mark Newton

States already having state protection for student expression are:

  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Colorado
  • Arkansas
  • Kansas
  • North Dakota
  • Iowa
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania Code
  • Washington Code

“When we teach responsible expression to students, and empower them to use it without fear of review or restraint,” Newton said,  “we will see positive benefits for decades and decades. It’s not only an educational sound best practice, but a civic one as well.”

JEA is the largest scholastic journalism organization for teachers and advisers, educating teachers how to educate students. Among its programs and outreach, JEA provides training around the country at national conventions and institutes, offers national certification for teaching high school journalism and monitor and actively defend First Amendment and scholastic press rights issues across the country.

New Voices USA is a student-powered grassroots movement to give young people the legally protected right to gather information and share ideas about issues of public concern. New Voices works with advocates in law, education, journalism and civics to make schools and colleges more welcoming places for student voices.

JEA and the SPLC encourage other states to press for similar legislation, and would also endorse legislation that would do so.

Students and advisers interested for more information can contact the SPLC  at 202-785-5450 or JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee.

For more information about starting state legislation, check this SPLC resource, this resource and this JEA resource.

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