Saturday, November 10, 2007

'Censoring students robs democracy'

Now, there's a headline we can all get behind. Joe Dennis, president of the Georgia Scholastic Press Association, wrote this column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution a couple of weeks ago in response to a principal's overzealous actions. (You may need to complete a free registration at the site to read it.) An excerpt:

In an era of No Child Left Behind and the standardization of education, the high school newspaper creates a rare forum where students can actually develop ideas and test their critical thinking skills. Writing a column in the newspaper requires students to thoughtfully craft their opinions, showcase them to the student body and be prepared for criticism of their viewpoints.

Instead of a lesson in critical thinking, the actions of Pitts showed East Coweta students that viewpoints different from the mainstream should not be tolerated. Instead of learning how to develop and express their viewpoints in a democracy, they learned that critical thinking is stifled if it differs from the authority's viewpoint.

It's an excellent piece citing many of the same arguments we use over and over again in justifying the educational value of journalism. And if you're curious, you can find the original columns that caused all the controversy here -- one is critical of the school, the other a satire piece. The AJC had its own response here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

SPLC names new executive director

This news is about a week old, but it bears reporting, even at this point: The Student Press Law Center named Frank Daniel LoMonte its new executive director. He replaces Mark Goodman, who is leaving at the end of the year.

LoMonte has experience as both a lawyer and a journalist, and has been a member of the SPLC's Attorney Referral Network.

"Frank's passion for student journalists and their rights of free expression came through loud and clear during the several interviews the board of directors held with him," Goodman said. "His work on his own college newspaper, his track record in civil liberties issues, his commitment to the issues central to the Student Press Law Center¹s mission and his strategic way of thinking are just what the SPLC needs as it develops plans for the future. I know the SPLC is in capable hands, with Frank LoMonte as executive director."