Other campus: Free high school press (U. Nebraska)

By Daily Nebraskan

(U-WIRE) LINCOLN, Neb. – The United States is founded on the First Amendment. Much of the U.S.’s written law and unwritten policy has centered on the fundamental right of the people to speak their minds, assemble freely, practice religion and publish facts and opinions.

That’s why almost 20 years after the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court case, journalists become unsettled when we see a principal take advantage of the ill-fated court case.

The Hazelwood ruling gave school administrators the ability to censor high school publications if said school leaders deem the material disruptive to the learning environment. Those powers are being applied to a high school publication in Oak Ridge, Tenn., right now.

The administrators of Oak Ridge High School stole 1,800 copies of the student publication because of stories they disagreed with on the subjects of birth control and tattoos.

The Associated Press quoted Superintendent Tom Bailey as saying, “We have a responsibility to the public to do the right thing. We’ve got 14-year-olds that read the newspaper.”

We’d like the superintendent to know that, in all likelihood, every single 14-year-old in that school has seen a tattoo. If their school district were worth its books, it would be teaching about birth control in the classroom. What harm does it do to have students express their opinions on the subject to other students?

On the other hand, how much harm does it do to imply students shouldn’t talk about things like body modification and birth control? Education, boiled down, is the expression of a series of facts and opinions. And if the students’ thoughts and concerns are just as important as their history books, why should school leaders prevent them from expressing those thoughts? That’s not what learning is about.

Staff Editorial

Daily Nebraskan (U. Nebraska)