Monday, June 21, 2010

There when they are needed most

The Student Press Law Center is a group that I have known about for several years, but one that I never really wanted to have any contact with. All of that changed when Frank LoMonte of the SPLC (being recorded at right) spoke to the ASNE Reynolds Institute members today. LoMonte shared some very important information with the group in connection to our work with journalism students and the First Amendment in our classrooms.

As he was discussing the rights of students through the major court cases dealing with freedom of speech, I realized how lucky I am to teach in one of the seven states that has a student publication law that student newspapers are protected by the First Amendment. They recognize that student newspapers are a form of student expression and should be protected. In addition my state takes it one step further and also protects the teacher from retalliation. However these laws are only as good as the people who are using them, and once again, I am lucky to teach in a school the supports student journalism.

As glad as I am that I haven't had to call and consult with the SPLC as a teacher, yet, I now know that I should make visits to (left) a regular part of my lesson planning. The site includes so many different powerpoints and podcasts that I can use when teaching my students about press law or that I can use to spark discussions on topics that are relevant to my students.

Finally, I truly feel for my peers who teach at private high schools and found LoMonte's metaphor a great way to think about the struggles that they may face in protection of student press rights. "It would be like setting a steak in front of a vegetarian and saying, 'It's delicious but it's not for you and you can't have a bite of it.'" However I think that even though they may not have the same rights as their public school counterparts, I found that LoMonte gave them some great information to take another step in protecting student freedoms.

Laura Schwinn
Emporia High School
Emporia, Kan.


  1. Nice illustrations, Laura. I appreciate the link to the SPLC's site. I also felt a lot of angst for our counterparts from private schools. When Frank basically said "All of these protections don't apply to you," my blood ran cold.

    Steve Elliott
    Arizona State University

  2. Laura,

    I love your photo takes on Frank's presentation. I appreciate seeing things from a different point of view and your photos took me there. Also, I agree, being in a private school must be one of the most difficult places to navigate.

    Michelle Evenson
    Eden Prairie High School
    Minneapolis, Minn.

  3. Laura:

    I am agree with Michelle on the pictures good angles and truly captures the setting. It is truly sad that the private sector is under such scrutiny. I heard of a teacher in Redding that was the Yearbook adviser. Because she wanted her kid to attend a public high school and not the school she worked at they let her go.

    The world of high school academics is animal all to itself I have found. Rules and justifications are based on logical a great deal of the time and sometimes who have to ask the question is this in the best interest of the students.

    Brent Manuel
    Pleasant Valley High
    Chico, Calif.