Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The journalistic fire inside

This makes me furious. By law, school administrators have the right to censor student newspapers. But many don't. They see the point of allowing students to, for the most part and with guidance from an advisor, debate and discuss issues pertinent to their lives. These are teenagers who will be soon entering adulthood, college, society - they're the ones our country will ultimately rely on. We should allow and encourage their critical thinking of differing perspectives.

But here's an example of a school that's obviously blind to that train of thought.

Dozens of people who attended a school board meeting to support a suspended journalism teacher left frustrated when they were not allowed to speak.
The student editor of the Woodlan Junior-Senior High School newspaper said some staff members quit on Tuesday, the day after East Allen County Schools officials placed teacher Amy Sorrell on paid leave pending a review of whether her contract should be terminated.
The action came two months after the student newspaper published a sophomore's editorial advocating tolerance for homosexuals and officials responded by requiring the all future issues be approved by the principal of the 700-student school east of Fort Wayne.
School Board President Stephen Terry told those attending Tuesday night's meeting they would not be allowed to discuss Sorrell's suspension, saying the board might in the future hear an appeal if she was fired.
"It's to preserve the rights of the teacher," Terry said.
He said his decision was based on state law, but when a teachers union representative asked for the specific law, Terry ruled the question out of order.
"I think it's kind of ridiculous that they're not going to listen to the parents and students and taxpayers that are here," Sorrell said after leaving the board meeting.
Cortney Carpenter, a junior who was editor of the Woodlan Tomahawk, said she and at least two other students quit the newspaper staff Tuesday after Principal Ed Yoder told the class that it must resume publishing the school paper and print a district policy naming the principal as the publisher.
"We decided that it was wrong and we couldn't do it, and all the things we had done up to that point would be meaningless if we decided to back down," she said.
School district officials have said newspaper classes are expected to publish newspapers as part of the curriculum.


Sure. They may have right. But it's wrong. And stupidity. Why do we feel the need to stifle debate and discussion? Especially on issues such as homosexuality. Do people honestly believe that by ignoring this, it'll just go away? No high schoolers, who yourself may be confused, you can't talk about this and hear both sides objectively - even during this time of life when you're beginning to discover who you are. Let's pretend it doesn't exist. I can't understand that. Never. Regardless of religious, moral, sexual beliefs - people adopt this behavior. It happens. Just like school officials sometimes abuse students. Our elected leaders sometimes misuse our tax money. And businesses may try to rip us off. But pretending these things don't exist, ignoring the issue entirely???????? Sticking your heads in the sand... I hope you all suffocate and choke on it.

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