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Censorship lesson and case study: Fond du Lac

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments


Censorship Case Study
by Jeff Kocur

A case study on the Fond du Lac High School Cardinal Column’s censorship by administration after the publishing of an article on a rape culture at the school. The study involves censorship of Fond du Lac High School’s by administration after the publishing of an article on a rape culture at the school. Students examine the application of the First Amendment to high school students and evaluate and hypothesize what they might do if faced with a similar situation.

• Students will examine the application of the First Amendment to high school students
• Students will discuss the censorship of a high school publication.
• Students will evaluate and hypothesize what they would do if they were in a similar situation.

Common Core State Standards
Informational text; Integration of knowledge and ideas
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
• Informational text; Integration of knowledge and ideas
Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principlesand use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).

100 minutes (Two 50-minute classes)

Materials / resources
Handout 1

Handout 2
Rape Culture Coverage
For more information about the situation:
• Article on the issue
• Student Press Law Center with links to story
• Article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Lesson step-by-step
Day One:

1. Background — 3 minutes
Teacher should either talk through or project the following:
Summation of issue:
Students at the Cardinal Columns, the student run newspaper at Fond Du Lac High School in Fond Du Lac, Wisc., were compelled to write a piece in the February issue about a rape culture at their school. The Editor-in-Chief, Tanvi Kumar told the Student Press Law Center the following.

“We are so saturated in a society that tolerates and even condones objectification of women and sexualizes them to be less than human beings,” Kumar said. “I think a lot of that … contributes to rape jokes and rape culture, and it’s not something that I could see going under the radar anymore.”

After the article was published, the principal, Jon Wiltzius, enacted a school board policy on the books, but not in practice, that would require the students to submit their paper to him prior to publication. He censored a photo on the cover of the next issue that was critical of the new policy.

2. Opening question — 2 minutes
Ask the students “What if this happened at your school?”
Teacher note: A healthy, mutual understanding of the First Amendment between your staff and your administrator would likely make this a non-issue, but not all schools are that lucky. You may want to share the First Amendment with the students as well.

3. Reading the article — 25 minutes
Teacher should pass out the article. Students should read the coverage in its entirety.

4. Pair work — 15 minutes
Teacher should pass out “Handout 1.” Students could work on the sheet in pairs.

5. Homework
If students have not finished the handout, ask them to do it for homework.

Day 2

1. Recap — 5 minutes
Ask students to “remind you” of what they read about the day before.

2. Large group discussion — 15 minutes
Teacher should ask each group to report their answers. Teacher should facilitate the discussion.

3. Small group work — 15 minutes
Ask each pair to partner with another pair. Pass out “Handout 2.” Students should answer the questions from the sheet.

4. Large group discussion — 15 minutes
Again, teacher should ask each group to report their answers. Teacher should facilitate the discussion.

If students would like more information on the Fond du Lac censorship, they should access the articles listed in the resources section.

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Noteworthy this week in support of student expression

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


With Constitution Day (Sept. 17) and its Congressional mandate to teach a lesson on constitutional issues, the press rights commission would like to highlight a couple of points:

• NCTE released a statement, NCTE Beliefs about Students’ Right to Write, that could lead to lessons and discussion.
• Fond du Lac High School in Wisconsin received new guidelines for their Cardinal Columns that allow students, in consultation with the adviser, to decide content without prior review. For more information and how it came about, check in the next several weeks.
• Later this week, check this blog for the JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission Constitution Day teaching lessons and activities. Until then, you can find previous lessons here.  We designed our Constitution Day lesson plans 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.

With Constitution Day close, you might want to work our lessons when released Friday into that timeframe. One post will win a $25 gift certificate for the JEA bookstore. It’s easy to enter — just use the #CD2014. The winner will be chosen at random. In order to enter, post either students learning or celebrating Constitution Day by at 9:17 p.m Sept. 17. The winning post will be announced on the listserv.


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Fond du Lac gets new policy,
content in hands of students, adviser

Posted by on Sep 1, 2014 in Blog, Hazelwood, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Students at Wisconsin’s Fond du Lac High have a new editorial policy this fall after a spring and summer of working to reach compromise that would end prior review and restraint.

Reporter Sharon Roznik wrote in the  local  fdlreporter the board of education would support guidelines that give the “final decision-making process for publication ‘lies with the editors-in-chief and the editorial board in consultation with the faculty adviser.'”

Roznik and Cardinal Columns adviser Matt Smith report that Smith “has the authority” to refuse publication if material is libelous or obscene or can be called unprotected speech.

Roznik quotes Smith as appreciative of the board working with him and students obtain a solution.

“The students and I will meet regularly with the principal and/or district staff to discuss how things are going and continue building understanding about best practices for scholastic journalism as well as appreciation for how well our students operate and how much they deserve our trust and support. ” Smith wrote in an email earlier this month.”

Smith, wrote Roznik, said the best thing for the district in the long run is to make the Cardinal Columns a public forum for student expression.

To see the new policy guidelines, go here.

For background on the issue, go herehere and here.


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Current First Amendment issues worth noting

Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Yearbook | 0 comments


Looking for discussion starters for the end of school?

For the latest on three nationally ongoing censorship issues, check out:

Fond du Lac, WI

• Cardinal Columns: Filthy administrative minds, “dangerous advice” and the persistent kids of Cardinal Columns
• They’re still censoring the Cardinal Columns FYI – now deny seniors a final issues
• Fond du Lac students protest school censorship

Neshaminy, PA
• Neshaminy board tables controversial publication policy changes

• Controversial Neshaminy policy going back to committee

• Why forcing a student newspaper to use a racial slur is wrong on so many levels

• Playwickian staff implores Neshaminy board not to adopt policy preventing student newspaper from banning use of ‘Redskin’ mascot name

Heber City, UT
• Altered yearbook photos at Utah high school spark controversy

• School alters girls’ yearbook photos to cover bare skin, is not sorry

• Photoshop a yearbook photo neckline, and you tell a teen to be someone else

• ‘Shoulder-shaming’ girls at Utah high school: Why the big coverup?

• Students say altered yearbook photos meant to shame them (see related stories)

In related coverage  of journalism ethics now and in the fall, the question of how altering pictures in student media affects journalism as a whole and creates  the potential of multiple ethical lessons.

• Editing yearbook photos not uncommon, says printer



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Fond du Lac English department
posts support for students
in censorship fight

Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Uncategorized | 0 comments


Fond du Lac (WI) High’s English department has submitted a statement supporting student journalists and advocating the need for an open forum for student expression at their school.

Student journalists there have been in a prior review and restraint battle with school officials over a story on rape, called “Rape Joke.”

Kettle Moraine Press Association director Linda Barrington also noted the students aired  a video on school announcements March 21, with administration approval. The video had some explanation from the principal about why he thinks the guidelines for prior review are needed.

The video can be seen here.

Arguments made on the video include the general thought that the school would like more oversight, the thought that some of the words used in the story were too edgy, and a reference to the argument the principal has been giving lately that reporters should have gotten the permission from the rapists who may have been involved in the stories of sexual abuse related by the anonymous sources in the “Rape Joke” story.

Barrington said in am email to the Journalism Education Association’s listserv that the next school board meeting for the district is Monday, March 24 at 5 pm at the Fond du Lac School District Administration Center at 72 Ninth St.

“Students are looking for as much support there as possible,” Barrington wrote.

Students journalists have received more than 5,300 signatures on a petition to their superintendent to reverse his prior review and censorship decision.

Additional coverage links:
• Trust kids to speak,0,1091161.story
• High school student protest censorship of the ‘The Rape Joke,’ school publication restriction
• Fond du Lac student protest censorship mandate for school publication
• High school cracks down on student paper that published rape culture article
•How far is too far? The issue of rape in the high school
• High school administration teaches student journalists valuable lesson: We will censor you early and often
• oped: Rape culture article in school paper leads to censorship policy
• Wisconsin administrators impose prior review after news magazine’s story on sexual assault
• Principal requires approval of high school paper’s stories after rape culture article
• WI school offices seize control  over student paper after ‘rape culture’ article appears



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