Friday, March 30, 2007

Statement from WJEA President Kathy Schrier

The following is a statement from WJEA President Kathy Schrier. She was the recipient of the Fern Valentine Freedom of Expression Award at the WJEA state conference on March 10 for her exemplary effort in coordinating the high school support of the bill.

Hello everyone,

In case you hadn't heard, today the Washington state Senate Judiciary Committee killed the high school portion of Bill 1307. All language pertaining to high schools was removed, and it now moves forward as a college only bill.

Of course, this is a huge blow to all of us who worked so hard to promote this legislation that was to have been a shining light for other states to follow. In fact, even with our defeat today, Oregon and Michigan have similar bills that are now going through the legislative process.

We have learned that school administrators in our state are interested in suppressing student voices by controlling what can and can't be expressed in school media. This, I find to be not just sad, but frightening. WJEA will continue to fight for student voices and for student-run media in every public high school.

We must remember that rights were not lost because of what happened today; they will continue to be what they were before the legislation was introduced. The state constitution still says students have free speech. Administrators still have some restrictions on what they can censor. Unfortunately, because of what didn't happen today, the language of the law is still vague and it is likely that students may have to fight even harder to maintain their rights within their school walls.

Rep. Dave Upthegrove and Brian Schraum are heroes in my book. They started a wave that is spreading to other states and a dialogue that will go on long after this legislative session ends. And the amazing Fern Valentine has championed this cause for many years and I know won't give up now. Vince DeMiero, too, has used his gift with words to articulate this cause with intense passion. Jeff Nusser created a fabulous blogspot and, despite sleepless nights with a new baby, found time to post all the latest news on HB1307.

The students who travelled to Olympia and who spoke with such conviction were an inspiration and are the reason we needed this bill to pass. And last but not least, the folks at J-Ideas, especially Angela Thomas, who flew to the northwest twice to be with us in Olympia at the most critical times -- THANK YOU for believing so strongly in this bill and for devoting so much time and website space to this cause.

I would also like to thank Rachel Smith, Rep. Upthegrove's fabulous assistant, who not only kept us all posted on the latest news but became a good friend to our cause along the way.

And how could I possibly not mention Mike Hiestand! He's right up there on the hero pedestal with Dave and Brian. His knowledge of the law and his ability to articulate it so well gave us confidence and strength all along the way. THANK YOU so much, Mike. We're so glad you are now a Washingtonian!

Kathy Schrier
President, WJEA

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