Free speech and free press are protections granted to every U.S. citizen by the Constitution. Recently, the national New Voices campaign has ignited a call to state legislatures to extend and protect these freedoms to high school journalists.
A 1988 Supreme Court ruling granted censorship powers to public school officials over district-sponsored publications. However, states reserve the ability to protect students’ free press rights if they choose under the ruling.
For example, a measure in North Dakota specifies that censorship of student journalism (district-sponsored or independent) can only be applied if pieces contain slander, invade privacy, violate state/federal law, violate school policy, or interfere with school operations.
Legislation of the same caliber is being called for in Wisconsin by the New Voices group. Nationally, support for such actions has spread across partisan lines. The freedoms of the press and speech have been nationally deemed as imperative rights to protect for all citizens, including student journalists.
As a student journalist in West Bend, I have experienced first-hand the type of censorship this legislation would guard against.
First I was told that I could not cover student concerns when a West social studies teacher was controversially placed on administrative leave a week before semester exams in January. Although my intention was simply to present student viewpoints, I was told that due to personnel issues, I could not cover the story.
Most recently, I was denied the opportunity to write about…..
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