Monday, February 26, 2007

Still fighting misconceptions of HB 1307

Kudos to WJEA member Fern Valentine for this letter to the editor of The (Tacoma) News Tribune, which was designed to combat the assertion that administrative control of student publications was akin to administrators setting appropriate standards for a school dance.

The News Tribune previously wrote an editorial supporting House Bill 1307, then wrote an editorial supporting an administrator who condemned "dirty dancing" at his school. A reader found this disingenuous:

What you did have right was your statement in the editorial, “It is the nature of adolescents to push the limits and it’s the job of responsible adults to enforce them.” I would add that adolescents have the same tendency to push their limits in their school newspaper as on the school dance floor.

Valentine took exception, submitting this response, which was published today:

Obviously, the writer hasn’t read House Bill 1307. School editors are not unsupervised. Their advisers and their principals have the right to enforce the limits set by the bill. The bill would give the students the right to report responsibly on topics of their choice without fear of censorship because the principal is uncomfortable with the topic.

This process of responsible reporting teaches critical thinking and research skills in a setting where students work together, using technology, to meet deadlines, work within budgets and produce media their audience wants. Finding ways for students to learn these important skills is the job of the schools and the bill promotes that type of learning and deserves support for that reason.

Dirty dancing is a whole different matter.

Way to go Fern!

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