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Students, join movement to make change:
Mary Beth Tinker

Posted by on Mar 19, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 3 comments

 

Mary Beth Tinker claps her hands while sining a song to high school students in the grand ball room on Tuesday October 1, 2013 at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. The engagement was part of the Mary Beth Tinker Bus Tour.(Photo by David Dermer)

by Mary Beth Tinker
The student uprising for safer gun laws is going to rock gun culture to its core.  It already has.

As it does, student journalists will be on the front lines, proving again they are not only the future, but the present.  In this, they also have an opportunity to join with student leaders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland who promote youth voices often left out of student journalism, those of low income students of color.

This week, Parkland students met with students from Chicago, where gun death is  epidemic. Students discussed how gun tragedies affect their very different communities.

“Those who face gun violence on a level that we have only just glimpsed from our gated communities have never had their voices heard in their entire lives the way that we have in these few weeks alone.” –– Emma Gonzalez, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Parkland student leader

Emma Gonzalez, a student leader at Parkland tweeted,  “Those who face gun violence on a level that we have only just glimpsed from our gated communities have never had their voices heard in their entire lives the way that we have in these few weeks alone.”

Emma made a commitment to share the platform  Parkland students have established with “every person, black or white, gay or straight, religious or not, who has experienced gun violence,” saying “hand in hand, side by side, We Will Make This Change Together.”

In Baltimore, hundreds of students from different racial and economic backgrounds joined in a  walkout March 6 for a march to City Hall in protest of gun violence.  They expressed solidarity with Excel Academy, where seven students have been killed by guns in the last two years.

David Hogg, a student leader at MSD who is also a leader in broadcast journalism there,  tweeted words of support, saying “Yeah Baltimore!!!!!!!! Let’s do this !”

‘Tinker Tour’ finds common fears, causes among students
Last week, as part of my “Tinker Tour” to schools around the country, I visited with students at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Ward 8 of Washington DC. According to its website, “almost 100 percent” of the students in school are African American and 75 percent qualify for free lunches.

Students at Thurgood Marshall have lost two classmates this year from gun violence, Zaire and Paris.  Zaire’s twin brother, Zion, told me his brother was killed by a person wearing a prison ankle bracelet, and there should be more limits on who can get guns. Washington DC has strict gun laws, but guns flow in from elsewhere.

Zion’s father testified at President Trump’s ‘listening tour’ on gun violence, saying his tragedy began on Sept. 20 and the family struggles to recover from their grief.

Students at Thurgood Marshall Academy won’t express any of this in their school newspaper or in broadcast journalism class. Like most Washington DC students, they don’t have a journalism program. In fact, only a handful of high schools in Washington DC do.

One is Wilson High, where students at the award winning Beacon decided to do s

omething about that. With The Paper Project, student journalists at Wilson meet with students at schools where there is no journalism program to share skills and help with publications. They raise money through student fundraisers and contributions.

Too often, young people must endure policies they have had absolutely no part in making.  Funding for journalism is one. For some, cuts to journalism budgets are retaliation for articles. For others, journalism education was never an option to begin with. As I travel the country to schools and communities, that is most often the case, with  a “sliding scale”  for First Amendment rights, particularly student press.

Bringing these voices together as an issue in civics
Frank LoMonte, past director of the Student Press Law Center, advocates for an increased connection between civics and journalism, natural partners for an active citizenry. But, civics education shares the same gap that afflicts journalism education.

The Civic Mission of Schools, a coalition of civics organizations, cites this disparity and attributes it to an education system that a provides “far fewer and lower-quality civic learning opportunities to minority and low-income students.”

Despite all of this, young people find their voices and make them heard.

You can hear one of them, Jonothan Gray, in a powerful twitter video highlighting the coverage to gun violence in schools (mostly white students) compared to that out of school (mostly kids of color). Jonathan says in Baltimore, like so may places, gun violence “has become the norm.”

At a stop at Kent State University during her Tinker Tour in 2013, Mary Beth checks out the May 4 Visitors Center. Members of Ohio’s National Guard shot and killed four students in 1970 during a time of national protests against the Vietnam War. Photo by John Bowen.

Great movements begin from civic awareness, student voices
From great tragedy come great movements. The civil rights movement, also a story of the free press, was surely one. The current movement by students for safer gun laws, with walkouts and plans for rallies throughout the country Marcy 24 will be a story of the free press as well.

When I was 13 and in eighth grade in 1965, like the students, I was moved to action by great tragedy and great journalists. I watched the horrors of the Vietnam unfold on the evening news, with Walter Cronkite giving a daily “body count” to keep track.

A group of us in Des Moines, Iowa, including my brother, John, wore black armbands to mourn the dead and to promote a Christmas truce being proposed by Senator Robert Kennedy.

For doing that,  we were suspended.

The American Civil Liberties Union took our case to the Supreme Court, and in 1969, the Court ruled that neither “students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

The ruling was chipped away by three later rulings, with “Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier” in 1988 targeting student journalists and being the most harmful.

Young people are on the move.
They are winning in the court of public opinion, and they are winning laws to affirm the rights of young journalists through the New Voices movement.  Washington state is the latest, with the legislature voting for student journalists’ rights.

By coming together, young people will also win victories against gun violence. When they do, student journalists and advisers have a real opportunity to advance the First Amendment for all youth across the country.

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JEA statement on student free expression
in a vibrant and flourishing democracy

Posted by on Apr 9, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

The Journalism Education Association, at its board meeting in Seattle Washington April 6, unanimously passed the following statement:

To address current negativity toward news media in general and misunderstanding of its roles in a democracy, the Journalism Education Association reiterates its principles and practices that nourish a lifelong commitment for a vibrant and flourishing democracy.

We strongly believe free student expression as taught and practiced in journalism classes anchors successful scholastic media. So empowered, our programs showcase the importance of news and media literacy, civic engagement, critical thinking and decision-making as the core of lifelong involvement in a democracy.

To protect our democracy and its principles:

  • JEA reaffirms its position that the practice of journalism is an important form of public service to prepare students as engaged, civic-minded citizens who are also discerning information creators and users.
  • JEA will recognize, promote and support strong editorial policies with each media outlet as a designated public forum for student expression where students make all final content decisions without prior review or restraint.
  • JEA will encourage all journalism teachers and advisers to strongly encourage diversity, accuracy and thoroughness in content so student media reflect and make sense to communities they serve.
  • JEA will produce sample editorial policies and accompany them with model ethical guidelines and staff manual procedures that enhance and implement journalistically responsible decisions across media platforms.
  • JEA will encourage journalism teachers and media advisers, even if they must teach and advise under prior review or restraint, to recognize how educationally unsound and democratically unstable these policies and rules are.
  • JEA will insist student free expression not be limited by claims related to program funding or equipment use. Instead, journalism programs should showcase student civic engagement and practice democratic principles no matter what media platform is used.
  • JEA will demonstrate, to communities in and out of school, through its actions, policies, programs and budgeting, its commitment to an informed, vibrant nation where free expression is expected and practiced as part of our diverse American heritage.

Additionally, we believe groups we partner with and endorse should faithfully support principles of free student expression for student media.

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Practical application the best way
to learn civic involvement, not tests

Posted by on Apr 29, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

And that involvement should include journalism

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An April 21 Education Week article  notes that a dozen state legislators want to require graduating students to take — and pass — a test similar to one given those who want to become U. S. citizens.

While the legislation might have some merit, it is not a solution for the best way prepare students to be contributors in a democracy.

That solution requires hands-on application of principles taught, practiced and learned in civics, history, and, we would argue, journalism classes.

“We need young citizens who are committed to helping make their communities better and who can assess policy proposals, not merely youths who know how many voting members of the U.S. House of Representatives there are,” Education Week author Joseph Kahne said in his article. ” Google provides the answer to any question on the naturalization test in seconds.”

We agree.

And, we would add, legislators need to look at successful journalism programs, free of review and restraint, where students make all final decisions of content. These represent real civic engagement and learning.

Such programs are models for civic engagement and citizenship.

Journalism, news literacy and civic literacy programs would do a far better job of preparing students for the rigors of an effective democracy than a multiple choice exam or almost any non-application test.

“Democracy,” Kahne says, “thrives when citizens think critically and deeply about civic and political issues, when they consider the needs and priorities of others, and when they engage in informed action—not when they memorize a few facts.”

Again, we agree. More testing of facts and figure about the government might not hurt, but it won’t really help, either.

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Three story ideas worthy of student media exploration

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Looking for stories that enable your students to make a significant difference?

Here are three possibilities for localization and expansion:

• Should schools monitor students’ social media sites
http://www.eschoolnews.com/2013/12/23/schools-monitor-media-400/2/

This article raises the issue whether software can or should be expected to determine if students’ postings can be considered cyberbullying. The article seems to raise the same concepts and approaches those who supported Internet filtering did, saying software could be so finely designed to judge why students meant. Cyberbullying is a serious issue facing schools, but numerous groups also argue attempts to limit it must have a constitutional basis. Background on this topic should be extensive.

• SR: the right to be nonpolitical
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/magazine/the-first-amendment-right-to-nonpolitical-homework.html?_r=2&

Should homework assignments involve students in political activities? A similar question might challenge giving students class credit to engage in essay writing for contests or other prizes. Do your schools have policies on these practices?

•  Shools not inspiring student to participate in civic life, Stanford scholar says
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/november/civics-education-report-112613.html 

The premise of this article is that students are not taught who to become engaged in society, that facts about democracy, citizenship and government are not enough. Active participation, the author urges, is the key. In your school, what is billed as civic involvement, and are the students given a real change to make a difference?

 

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Civic engagement:
More than a buzz word

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Candace Bowen
Civic engagement is one of the pluses we name when talking about the value of scholastic media. But what do we mean by that line and what in our activities gives our students that experience? First let’s think about what it does NOT…

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