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Knight study shows hope, raises issues

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The 2016 Knight Foundation’s study of student and teacher beliefs, Future of the First Amendment, has some good news about student beliefs but is equally troubling about what teachers think.

The study showed that 91 percent of students agree people “should be able to express  unpopular opinions” compared with 83 percent in 2004.

Results also showed students who more frequently consume news and actively engage with news on social media demonstrate stronger support for First Amendment freedoms.

Teacher responses, on the other hand, create some areas of concern.

When asked if  high school students should be allowed to report on controversial issues in their student newspapers without the approval of school authorities, 66 percent of students strongly or mildly agreed. Teachers had a 61 percent disapproval rate.

• When asked if  high school students should be allowed to report on controversial issues in their student newspapers without the approval of school authorities, 66 percent of students strongly or mildly agreed. Teachers had a 61 percent disapproval rate.

• When asked whether students should be allowed to express their opinions about teachers and school administrators on Facebook or other social media without worrying about being punished by teachers or school administrators for what they say, 33 percent of teachers strongly or mildly agreed while 54 percent of students did.

• When asked whether schools should be allowed to discipline students who post material on social media outside of school that school officials say is offensive, 28 percent of students strongly or mildly agree while 52 percent of  teachers did.

The survey, compiled by Kenneth Dautrich of the Stats Group, polled 11,998 high students and 726 teachers. It is the sixth Knight FoundationFuture of the First Amendment since 2004. Past results can be found here.

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