by Jan Ewell
Permission granted to use at will for non-commercial purposes
The Bill of Rights and Schools
The First Amendment, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, became the law of the land in 1791, but 216 years later in 2007 Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in Morse v. Frederick, “As originally understood, the Constitution does not afford students a right to free speech in public school.”
Thomas was an originalist, one who interprets the Constitution and the Bill of Rights according to what the Founding Fathers—the original authors—intended. Public education was virtually non-existent at the time. Thomas says the Founding Fathers did not intend the Bill of Rights to limit the power of schools and were not specifically concerned about the rights of public school students.
Fortunately for the student press, the other eight justices instead debated which First Amendment rights students should have. They looked at past court decisions for precedents, that is, earlier rulings by the court, that set a rule or pattern for deciding similar cases.
The precedent for almost 100 years was the 1833 Supreme Court decision in Barron v. Baltimore, which said the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government. According to Barron, “Congress shall make no law” meant the United States government—Congress–could not make laws “abridging freedom of speech, or of the press.” States and cities—and school districts–could and did make laws that established religions, and abridged free speech and freedom the press, and limited the right to assemble. “A local school teacher was not Congress within the meaning of `Congress shall make no law,’” said David L. Hudson Jr. in Let the Students Speak! Only the federal government was forbidden to make such laws.
The Supreme Court began to apply the Bill of Rights to the laws and practices of states starting in 1925 with Gitlow v. New York. By 1965, in Gideon v. Wainwright, the court indicated that all forms of government—not just the federal government–were restrained by the Constitution and its amendments, including the Bill of Rights. Public schools are a form of government.
by John Bowen
Applications are now available for this year’s First Amendment Press Freedom Award (FAPFA).
In its 13th year, the recognition is designed to identify and recognize high schools that actively support and protect First Amendment rights of their students and teachers. The honor focuses on press freedoms.
The application can be completed by using a SurveyGizmo form
. Deadline for submission is Dec. 1, 2012.
Schools will be recognized at the 2013 Spring National JEA/NSPA High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco.
To be recognized by JEA, NSPA and Quill and Scroll, schools must successfully complete two rounds of questions about the degree of First Amendment Freedoms student journalists have and how the school recognizes and supports the First Amendment. Entries will be evaluated by members of these organizations.
As in previous years, high schools will compete for the title by first answering questionnaires directed to an adviser and at least one editor; those who advance to the next level will be asked to provide responses from the principal and advisers and student editors/news directors of all student media.
In Round 2, semifinalists will submit samples of the publications and their printed editorial policies.
We’d love to see a record number of applications, and winners, in what will be the 25th anniversary year of the Hazelwood decision.
Constitution Day Lesson Plans for Sept. 17, 2012
The Scholastic Press Rights Commission works to provide information and resources on legal and ethical issues to journalism students, teachers and administrators. SPRC members also work to promote the First Amendment rights of students across the nation. It is a commission of the Journalism Education Association.
Our Constitution Day lesson plans provided here are designed to help students celebrate the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as mandated by Congress. Legislation requires schools to offer lessons on the Constitution and how it affects all Americans. Our lesson plans emphasize the First Amendment and particularly the freedoms of speech and the press. We’ve also included the applicable Common Core standards for most of the lessons.
Expanding your student media into social media this year? The Social Media Toolbox might have the right tools.
For Free Speech Friday, Scholastic Press Rights Commission members offer lesson plans usable any time during the year or immediately following Scholastic Journalism Week. The lessons are downloadable.
• Applying the NSPA Student Code of Ethics
The goal is to help students understand the elements of the NSPA Code of Ethics and apply that understanding to theoretical or real scenarios– Chris Waugaman. Download the lesson here.
• Satire, political speech and the news media
This lesson explores the term satire and helps students identify the use of satire in political speech and in the media. By identifying and dissecting satire in our daily lives, students learn to be more critical consumers of media and new–Megan Fromm. Download the lesson here and accompanying PowerPoint here.
• Elements of libel handout
The five elements of libel that published equal defamation–Chris Waugaman. Download the list here.
• Fighting prior review
One way to fight prior review is to anticipate the arguments used by those who support it and plan talking points and arguments against it. Such preparation might head off a real “fight” and enable sides to collaborate instead of content–John Bowen. Download the activity and sample arguments here.
• Projecting roles for scholastic media for 2015
Answers to these questions can help you formulate your focus, your brand and your reputation, not only for legacy media but also for the new media your students will use during the next five years. Giving priorities to these roles can help determine what type of publication/media you will be and what type policies you will need–John Bowen. Download the activity here.
Next: An exciting new teaching unit, Social Media Toolboxby Marina Hendricks.