Tag Archives: rightsofstudent

Schools Teaching but Not Upholding First Amendment Rights

Topic: School Censorship

Essential Question: Does schools regulating and censoring students’ speech violate the freedom of speech limits to the First Amendment?

Under the First Amendment the government must respect citizens’ right to express themselves; however, under the school speech doctrine, student’s constitutional right to freedom of speech can be suppressed by school authorities. The school’s ability to put limitations on students’ freedom of speech has been challenged countlessly and from many different aspects on the issue such as illegal drug promotion, political speech, hate speech, and religious speech.   The countless cases of discontent with the suppression is due to the court’s inadequate guidelines determining whether schools’ policies violate the constitution.  Due to this, the majority of schools lack knowledge about their limitations to restrict  students’ freedom of speech and rather focus on implementing restrictions to maintain order, avoid controversy, and minimize criticism from the community over promoting students’ rights while creating regulations.  This leads to the primary question.  Should schools value avoiding controversy and disruption over promoting students to practice their constitutional right?

In the  Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier court case, Kuhlmeier argued that the school violated the First Amendment by not publishing an article discussing teen pregnancy.  Kuhlmeier’s argument did not hold up in court. The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment rights of students in schools are not coextensive with the rights of adults outside of public schools and ultimately “educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities, so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.”  Since the article was written in a journalism class, apart of the school’s curriculum, the principal was able to deny publication with the reasoning that the pregnant students might have been able to be identified and would have later caused controversy and harm to those students.  The article also discussed sexual activities and birth control, which the principle deemed as inappropriate for the younger kids who attended that school.  Ultimately, by restricting students’ freedom of speech, in this case, allowed the community to avoid controversy and protect the well being and safety of other students at school.

On the other hand, the court case of Zachary Guiles rejected the school’s authorities to restrict Zachary’s First Amendment right to express his political views on a shirt despite the presence of alcohol and illegal drugs on his shirt.  Since the shirt was not encouraging the use of illegal drugs nor alcohol, which is prohibited in schools, but rather using them to convey, in Zachary’s opinion, the inadequacy and stupidity of the president, in the end, the school could not restrict Zachary from wearing the shirt at school because schools do not hold the right to censor political views of students if there is no disruption in the education process.  Since Zachary had wore this shirt many times before without any disruption and the only concern regarding the shirt were the drugs portrayed, the court could not ban his shirt from schools.  This ruling allowed for students to be able to practice their First Amendment right by promoting them to express their views politically.

Ultimately, I believe that schools should minimize their authority to restrict student’s First Amendment rights to better prepare them for the real world.  Schools should only use their power to avoid evident disruption in the classroom and harm such as bullying, encouraging of unsafe practices, and abusive speech.  Schools should encourage a safe environment where students are able to express their views regardless of the popular belief and use it to promote a better society in and out of the classroom by provoking thoughtful and open-minded conversations between students.

 

Censorship and Education

The 1st amendment of the United States Constitution addresses the issues of freedom of expression and the limitations government has when it comes to acting against the expressions of the public. According to the first amendment, government is not allowed to show  bias towards a religion or belief and are not allowed to stop a person’s right to speak out about their values .  One of the limiting powers  of the government is that they are allowed to censor media and information from the public if under the proper context.  Does censorship  desecrate the freedom of expression? Or does it not hinder it at all?

 

According to  an article entitled “ National Coalition Against Censorship” By the NACA censorship is defined as “ suppression of an image or idea because it offends or disturbs someone, or they disagree with it.  This states that media can be censored if it offends or bothers someone, however this raises another question. What are the limits when it comes to offensive or disturbing material? And how do they decide if something needs to be censored or if it should stay?   The IRA defines the difference in the following quote “   There is an important distinction between  selection based on professional guidelines and what censorship actually entails.  “ The goal of censorship  is to remove, eliminate or bar particular materials or methods.  The goal of professional guidelines is to provide criteria for  the selection of those materials or methods”.

 

Censorship also plays a  role in the education system.  An article entitled “ The Student’s Right to  Read”  by the NCTE, states that “ students and parents have the right to demand that education today keep students in reality with the world outside the classroom.  Since this a right of the parents and student why are books that are deemed to realistic or vulgar removed from the educational system.  Another thing to consider is the responsibilities of an english teacher. The specific responsibilities are highlighted  as the following “  Literature classes  should reflect the cultural contributions  of many minority groups in the United States”     
Censorship does not just impact literature in school but also can hinder the quality and impact on education.  How this affects students  is shown in the following excerpt  “   Censorship leaves students with  an inadequate and  distorted  picture of the ideals, values and problems in their culture.  Writers and authors have alot of power when it comes to the ability to impact students when it comes to sensitive or emotional content. Writers can distort or inaccurately portray a culture or value or they can paint an overly graphic image of a culture or idea.  Censorship can protect the public from sensitive media but in the end does it have a negative effect on students when they enter the real world? That’s for you to decide for yourself, as for me, I think it affects us more than we realize.