Lessons of Kristallnacht go beyond the history books
by Stan Zoller
Imagine if you will, that one day your administration comes in and without cause, dismantles your journalism classroom, publication office, and burns every copy of your newspaper and yearbook.
Then, without provocation or notice, the administration corralls your student media staff and yourself and threatens you with termination and your students with expulsion.
All because of who you were and the fact that you and your students advocated and used a voice.
Sure it does.
But in fact it has happened.
Monday, Nov. 10, was the 75th anniversary of ‘Kristallnacht,’ often referred to as the “Night of Broken Glass.” The events of Nov. 9 – 10 were an effort by the Third Reich to round up and arrest more than 30,000 Jews and destroy as much of the property as possible. In addition to destroying homes and personal property, synagogues were targeted as well as their contents.
While Kristallnacht is often connected to broken glass, a focus of the attacks was on the books by Jewish authors. Fires raged throughout Germany as books were burned.
For those journalism educators who teach J-1, a primary lesson focuses, of course, on the First Amendment. Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. How simple is that? And how many times has a young journalist rolled their eyes as they strain to remember them.
It’s easy to forget when there are other things to do – like Tweet, eat, and, of course, meet a deadline.
It’s easy to forget when we are fortunate to have freedom of expression, even if it’s challenged by an overzealous administration.
But the reality is that we can’t forget, which is why Holocaust awareness efforts often include the phrases ‘Never Forget’ or ‘Never Again.’
Cynics will say it’s a “Jewish thing” and an isolated case, but if you take a deep breath and look what at transpired after Kristallnacht, it was more than a “Jewish thing.”
Perhaps as a devout and practicing Jew I am more sensitive to the horrors of the Holocaust and the events leading up to it. Like Kristallnacht.
But I am a career journalist and a journalism educator, so I have had the luxury to practice what the Germans tried to take away 75 years ago.
The images and stories of Kristallnacht are chilling, as are most stories associated with the Holocaust. It’s the lessons, however, that we need to take away.
The intent of Kristallnacht, historians say, was to silence the Jews, eradicate their freedom of expression, destroy their freedom of speech, keep them from assembly, let alone their right to petition. As for the freedom of the press – nonexistent.
Nazi Germany did not have First Amendment rights. Imagine if you will, what life would be like in the United States if we did not have First Amendment rights.
Imagine if you will, coming to school and facing the chaos of a Kristallnacht. You probably can’t. The lessons associated with the First Amendment need to go beyond rote memorization. Students, whether in a journalism class or civics class need to understand what life would be like if we did not have First Amendment rights. They also need to imagine what it would be like if prior review and prior restraint were government mandated daily routines to silence student voices and reprimand those who taught students to have that voice.
Sure, it’s “only” 45 words, but the power behind them is unprecedented as is our right to practice them.
Perhaps educators and student journalists – or maybe all journalists need to reflect on that when Kristallnacht is remembered.
Because when you think about it, it’s not just a “Jewish thing.”
According to a new report from the American Library Association, Internet-filtering software blocks more content than required and deprives students of access to information and collaborative tools
Titled Fencing Out Knowledge: Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) 10 Years Later, the report also argues those children most affected are the poor, who might not otherwise have unfiltered Internet Access if they cannot access it at school.
JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee would like to see how journalism programs currently fare in today’s filtered high schools.
We urge you to complete the linked survey to see what your schools filters block, either for your students or for other classes in your school.
Students surfing the Web themselves or interviewing others who do can provide students with a worthwhile experience in news literacy as they become informed about information availability and how that affects society’s knowledge and ability to act on that knowledge.
We hope this survey will gather enough representative information to allow JEA and others to design strategies to help journalism programs work in a less filtered environment.
This lesson plan by Lori Keekley can add structure to your searching.
- Click here to go to the survey.
- Each student or adviser should complete a separate form.
- Each form allows the student or adviser to identify multiple blocked sites
- Submit the results of your surveys from Sept. 24 to Oct. 3
- Submit all forms by Oct. 3
- If you gathered any of your information using audio or video or have any visual reporting, please feel free to share that with us here
- Use links on the accompanying graphic to access Internet filtering
- JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee will post information about the results in the near future
- Publish results of your own surveys to show the local impact of filtering and share with us
- If you have questions or run into problems, contact us here
by John Bowen
To raise awareness of overly restrictive blocking in schools and school libraries of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools, The American Association of School Librarians has designated Wednesday, Sept. 24 as Banned Websites Awareness Day.
AASL asked school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning as part of Banned Books Week.
As part of that recognition, JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights committee will conduct a national survey of the impact of Internet filters beginning that day and last a week. We invite you and your students to take part in the survey by going to jeasprc.org and accessing the survey information there.
The commission asks students and advisers to test their Internet filters to see if their filtering goes beyond what filters are charged with blocking by the Children’s Internet Protection Act as numerous studies and groups have argued.
When information has been gathered, SPRC will report on the survey’s results and share that data.
Please check the committee’s website, its Facebook page or JEA’s Facebook page Sept. 24 for access to the survey.
by John Bowen
It’s ironic that Sept. 17, a day mandated to honor the Constitution of the United States, also this year marks the 2-day suspension of Neshaminy adviser Tara Huber for what the board of education calls insubordination.
The board suspended her without pay for failing to stop students from defying its directive. Her crime: She did not censor her students’ actions, actions she had no part in and did not even know about.
Additionally, the board of education stripped the students’ fundraising account of $1,200 to reimburse printing costs when students failed to print a letter in that issue using a term they deemed offensive.
In our minds, Huber and her students, through their actions of following their beliefs and Constitutional protections, represent the true spirit of the Constitution.
• Constitution Day lessons
• SPLC search for Neshaminy
• Neshaminy HS adviser suspended over newspaper’s ban
• Neshaminy suspends newspaper adviser for two days without pay
• Editor, faculty advisor suspended for refusing to print ‘redskin’ in school paper