JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission has a range of information and activities to gain assistance and information for those needing assistance with legal and ethical issues
For legal assistance
• Consider pushing our Panic Button. That action and completion of couple informational questions will alert members of the commission to your situation and they will contact you as soon as possible. They might offer help, they might direct you to information on the commission site or work to put you in touch with additional help.
• Check out our Foundations materials.
• Investigate our wealth of information on Hazelwood, a Teacher’s Kit for Curing Hazelwood and that of the SPLC, with its Cure Hazelwood materials.
• We also have a thorough list of court decisions affecting student expression here.
• Of course, the most reliable and most official resource is the Student Press Law Center. Contact it for specific legal advice and information.
For ethical assistance
The commission offers a range of materials, including:
• Ethical guidelines for online media. This package includes a link to the Social Media Toolkit, a set of lessons and activities to help you move online ethically. It also contains JEA’s guidelines for online media.
• Ethical yearbook guidelines. Ethical issues facing yearbooks often are neglected. This material from some of the nation’s leading yearbook advisers should offer assistance.
• Ethical guidelines for visual reporting. The material provides support for those visual reporting questions that can cause issues with new – and experienced – staffs.
In short, assistance is available. Just be sure to ask.
Our next blog will focus on new information and materials.
Mary Beth Tinker addresses student and advisers at the Ohio Scholastic Media Association awards banquet April 5. (photo by Melinda Yoho)
Individuals and groups still have one day to help ensure The Tinker Tour: The Power of an Armband happens next fall. The “Tinker Tour” is a bus trip across the country to promote youth voices, free speech and a free press.
The tour’s goal, according to Mary Beth Tinker, tour organizer and plaintiff in the landmark Tinker v DesMoines U. S. Supreme Court decision, is to “ bring real-life civics lessons to schools and communities through my story and those of other young people.”
Every journalism student in the country has a real stake in seeing this tour happen, even to the point of bring it to their schools or home towns.
Tinker and co-organizer Mike Hiestand, who assisted countless media students and advisers as a consulting attorney for the Student Press Law Center, hope to start the tour on Constitution Day next fall and spend three to six months touring, depending on funding.
Pledging your financial support within the next 31 days will enable your funds to be matched by StartSomeGood, a crowdsourcing fundraiser.
Find out about the Tinker Tour here.
To donate to the Tinker Tour, go here.
As Mary Beth says in her appeal for support, “I made a difference with a simple, black armband. Can you imagine what a 13-year-old could do today with all of the extraordinary speech tools available?”
Join her and the others who believe in student expression as a tool for civic engagement in supporting the Tinker Tour.
The Journalism Education Association today reaffirmed its opposition to prior review, prior restraint and their use under the guidelines established in the Hazelwood decision.
JEA’s board of directors unanimously took this stand as it voted to endorse a resolution by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication that said, in part, “the Hazelwood level of control over student journalistic speech is clearly incompatible with the effective teaching of journalistic skills, values and practices, and that institutions of secondary and postsecondary education should forswear reliance on Hazelwood as a source of authority for the governance of student and educator expression.”
JEA’s resolution differed slightly from the AEJMC model as it focused more directly on scholastic journalism.
“This resolution is important for two reasons,” JEA president Mark Newton said. “Anytime we can partner with our college colleagues in AEJMC it shows incredible solidarity. And, most importantly, as the leading scholastic journalism education group, we must stand tall and scream at injustice. Make no mistake the Hazelwood Supreme Court decision and its subsequent interpretations are an injustice to education, students, advisers and the First Amendment.”
The JEA resolution states, in part: “The Journalism Education Association (JEA) joins with the Association of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in stating that no legitimate pedagogical purpose is served by the censorship of student journalism on the grounds that it reflects unflatteringly on school policies and programs, that it candidly discusses sensitive social and political issues, or that it voices opinions challenging to majority views on matters of public concern. The censorship of such speech, or the punishment of media advisers based on that speech, is detrimental to effective learning and teaching, and it cannot be justified by reference to “pedagogical concerns.”
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said, “Because Hazelwood requires schools to present a justification for censorship that is “’legitimate’ and is based on “pedagogical” concerns, the consensus of the nation’s journalism professors as to what constitutes a legitimate educational reason for censorship should carry persuasive value with judges.”
In a second resolution, also passed unanimously, JEA endorsed an Illinois Journalism Education Association resolution had three major points:
• that the Illinois Journalism Education Association urges school district and school administrators to preserve, enhance and support independent student media; and
• the Illinois Journalism Education Association supports and defends media advisers and strongly urges the end of random reassignment or removal of advisers without due cause, and
• the Illinois Journalism Education Association applauds and staunchly defends the efforts of journalism educators for providing students the skills and education to produce free, responsible and independent student media.
“In any way possible,” Newton said, “JEA has an obligation to support advisers whose jobs and livelihoods are targeted for advocating and supporting student freedom of expression. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to have such a resolution like the one IJEA has written. However, it’s quite apparent that we have a lot of work to do to not only raise awareness, but take one further step to making sure advisers know that we support them, their students and their programs.”
JEA’s Hazelwood resolution can be downloaded here. The Illinois resolution here. The AEJMC resolution here.
JEA’s press rights commission will announce the next step in the resolution process within a couple of days.
Scholastic journalism’s focus this year is and should be on the 25th anniversary of Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier and the issues it helped spawn, from outright censorship to elimination of programs and teachers.Next year brings two notable anniversaries, both of on the results of censorship and other issues that limited – and continue to limit – journalism programs around the country.
Next year brings two notable anniversaries, both on the results of censorship and other issues that limited – and continue to limit – journalism programs around the country.
“Captive Voices,” published in 1974, is out of print, but available on Amazon. It will be 40 years since this expose first helped the public become aware of censorship and attitudes that limited student expression, and pointed to the importance of journalism education in America’s schools.
This study also brought about the Student Press Law Center, journalism education’s foremost legal support for teachers, students and communities in their search for free expression and civic engagement.
“Death By Cheeseburger,” published in 1994, out of print but available online here, focused on the health of American’s scholastic journalism programs 20 years after “Captive Voices.” Created around censorship of a story on school cafeteria food, the book included examination of scholastic journalism in much the same approach as “Captive Voices.” It marked the real beginning of commercial media putting forth resources to study, as well as improve, scholastic journalism on many levels.
Careful reading – and we all should revisit these books – will reveal issues fought 40 and 20 years ago still exist and still demand our attention as journalism educators.
We note these studies today because we must remain vigilant about the issues they raised.
• Advisers continue to lose their jobs for a myriad of reasons. For example, in Illinois, an adviser was RIFed (reduction in force) because of finances, the board said. The adviser says differently. His situation is certainly not the only one. For more information, go here and here. For information about a California adviser fearing retaliation, go here.
• Complaints about journalistic coverage and content continue as well. At Mountain View, Calif., students published a section on teen sex issues and some members of the community raised intense objection. Pro-student speakers and opponents discussed the issue at a board meeting. To date, school officials support the students right to make content decisions.
For information, see:
–Mountain View High School student newspaper’s sex stories raise parent ire
–Debate over sex education column defines us
--High school paper’s sex and relationships article stirs up controversy
Because the hits like these keep coming, we cannot become complacent. We must celebrate and support those who contribute to our successes.
The Student Press Law Center received an Education Writer’s Association second place national award for ”FERPA Fact” in the Best Blog category by a nonprofit or advocacy organization.
Frank LoMonte, in an email to the SPLC’s Advisory Council, said, “When we created FERPA Fact, we thought we were doing something pretty cool — leveraging the power of humor to get people talking about a serious problem that is in need of reform. We are pleased that others agree.”
We applaud the SPLC for being an unparalleled leader in scholastic journalism’s fight of this ongoing battle that shows no signs of ending.
by Ellen Austin
What is it about March? Even Shakespeare noticed it, putting the soothsayer’s warning out to Caesar about the time span that begins this week.
So the bad news from the early Ides of March rolls in …
I read with great surprise and shock this weekend the news that a well-known and professionally recognized colleague posted to a Listserv about losing his current position as a journalism adviser at in suburban Chicago.
It reminds me of a quote attributed variously to Saddam Hussein, Stalin, and others of that ilk whose names have become synonymous with suppression: “If you have a person, you have a problem; no person, no problem.”
The ultimate form of censorship is eliminating a person’s ability to do or say the thing which might cause concern. It’s also the pernicious form of censorship that too many high schools and universities have used to quell and control the student voices they really wanted to affect.
That adviser is one of our very best, a leader who has devoted himself not just to his students but to the greater cause of scholastic journalism, including outside-of-school service to JEA and state journalism organizations.
If you’re reading this, know that you are also “skin in this game.” It’s not just about this colleague or others whose names flash by on the marquee of a Listserv. It’s about all of us, and the collective work we do. We work at the flash point in our schools, the place where we really get to see what kind of climate of free expression exists on our campuses. I remember being told by a mentor early on, “Be prepared: you will probably lose your advising job at some point, if you’re doing it right.”
Earlier this week, my colleague Paul Kandell and I are heading over to neighboring Mountain View High School to sit in on the board meeting in which the journ advisers are being asked to discuss their programs. Amy Beare, the adviser to the Mountain View Oracle, will be presenting to the board, with (I hope) a room full of supportive parents and students around her.
It’s Monday, and only a couple of weeks after our celebration of Scholastic Journalism Week. This is hard, but meaningful work that we do.
What am I trying to say here? Guess I don’t really know. Mostly, here’s my Monday note to say that this is a hard hard job — and one which sometimes requires us to say, “How much do I believe in this? How strongly can I stand for what I believe? How willing am I to face the cost that may come with standing?”
Good luck to all of us this week as we go through our classes and our deadlines. I will be crossing my fingers tonight across town in the hopes that a neighboring school board sees that student free expression is a scary, but wonderful thing. Love that U.S. Constitution.
Ellen Austin is Dow Jones News Fund Teacher of the Year for this year