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Wentzville BOE meeting update

Posted by on Mar 18, 2010 in News | 0 comments

Bedecked in their green Team McCandless shirts, a group of 50 or students, parents and family members gathered at the monthly meeting of the Wentzville Board of Education, hoping to have their voices heard over the censorship of the newspaper and yearbook at Timberland High School.

Those green shirts failed to bring any luck to Team McCandless supporters, as four supporters of Principal Winston Rogers were allowed to speak before the public comments portion of the evening was brought to a close. As the disgruntled group filed out, several remarks were shouted back toward the boardroom and the group gathered outside the boardroom. Eventually, the group was allowed one person to speak.

The assembled group chose Nikki McGee, the editor-in-chief of the Wolf’s Howl. McGee spoke eloquently of her experiences in Cathy McCandless’ room and of the effects McCandless’ teaching has had on her over the course of four years. After that, the group headed back out and began to disperse.

Members of the St. Louis media were there, with KSDK and KMOV both sending reporters. A reporter from the Post-Dispatch was there as well. None of those media had posted anything online as of this writing.

The general atmosphere of those assembled was one of anger and disgruntlement. Those assembled were hopeful that they were going to be given a chance to speak and when it became apparent they were not, that anger rose. Several parents spoke of the censorship at THS being extended to the board meeting. Several vowed to be back for next month’s board meeting as well.

What I took away from this is a couple of things. First, that it’s good these students have stood up for themselves. Would that there were more students around the country like this, we’d hopefully have a lot less of a problem with censorship. Two, that it’s going to take a lot to overcome administrators in situations like this. It’s not enough to be in the right side of the argument. When we’re fighting against this, it takes time and hard work and persistence and passion and dedication.

I’ll be posting some photos one of my students took at the board meeting this evening to my Facebook account sometime tomorrow and provide some final thoughts.

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Team McCandless

Posted by on Mar 15, 2010 in Blog, News | 0 comments

Wentzville Board Meeting
So over the past six months or so, the students and teacher at Timberland High School in Wentzville, Mo. have undergone some terrible tribulations at the hands of their administrators. Stories pulled in multiple issues, oversight of the yearbook, panel photos pulled from said yearbook in March, when there is little that can be done to change them in the book. The list of transgressions has been well publicized.

And that last sentence is the silver lining in this awful cloud of censorship. The students and parents of adviser Cathy McCandless have responded admirably and forcefully to this situation.

At last check, their Facebook group, Team McCandless, has 585 members. A Wentzville parent has also created a blog – www.stop-ths-censorship.blogspot.com – that catalogs much of the grievances of parents and publication students as well as encouraging people to action.

In meetings with administration, yearbook students are starting to see some victories in their discussions with the administrators.

And perhaps most important, they are taking their arguments where they can have impact: the board of education. This Thursday, a group of parents, students, alumni and teachers will be attending the Wentzville Board of Education – me included – in order to let the decision makers know their thoughts about what has transpired. I’m hoping to have thoughts on this site that evening, as well as perhaps some photos. One of the members of the Student Partners, Ted Noelker, will also be attending this event.

While I know this has been a terribly trying, taxing time for Cathy, it has to be heart warming to know she’s done a good job teaching her students about their rights as student journalists and, in turn, her students have taught their parents enough about their rights to, hopefully, do something about it.

After talking with Cathy, I know she’s somewhat hopeful the tide may turn back towards her students favor. Hopefully, a big showing on Thursday will help sway the board of education and district administrators to see reason.

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Join a team that opposes censorship

Posted by on Feb 20, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Looking for something constructive to do that concerns education, scholastic journalism and maybe even the future of democracy?

Join a team that opposes censorship.

Team McCandless.

Students and parents who want to stop censorship of student media started team McCandless because adviser Cathy McCandless has said she will not advise student media next year given the prior review and censorship generated over several years.

The site urges everyone to “join us if you want to show your support. Censorship teaches nothing.”

We agree, and urge everyone who cares about scholastic journalism, about opposing censorship, to join.

Lori Carballo, who set up the Facebook page, writes there, “We cannot let our opinions be heard only on Facebook. Take the time to let your voices be heard by the Wentzville School District. Contact the school board, the building administrators, the superintendents and tell them what’s on your mind.”

It might just be the first step to ignite constructive change in a series of bad administrative decisions.

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