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.