Adviser Update Adviser Update Spring 2017 - Page 24

PR ES S R IGH T S M IN UTE Student Voices Gain Support NCTE BACKING AS MORE STATES PASS PROTECTIVE LAWS I John Bowen John Bowen, MJE, is an adjunct professor at Kent State, chair of Journalism Education Association (JEA) Scholastic Press Rights Commitee and former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. Bowen has been a member of the SPLC Board of Directors and convener of the SPLC Advisory Council and a high school journalism teacher and adviser. It had been a long dry spell for legislation to protect student free expression when the John Wall New Voices Act became law in North Dakota in April 2015. protect student journalists -- Massachusetts (1988), Iowa (1989), Colorado (1990), Kansas (1992) and Arkansas (1995). California had similar protection in its education code since 1977. Legislation to fight the chilling effect of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier was what many states sought when the Supreme Court decision said administrators, under some circumstances, could prevent student journalists from publishing what they wanted. But since 2015, the push is on. After North Dakota, Maryland (March, 2016) and Illinois (July, 2016) passed such legislation. Maryland’s appeared to breeze through with support from the state press association and its executive director, who helped teachers and students learn the ins and outs of lobbying and working with sponsors. The decision didn’t give administrators nearly as much power as some believed. Publications that were designated as forums of student opinion were protected, and even others could only be censored if there was “a legitimate pedagogical reason.” Clearly that wouldn’t include criticism of cafeteria food or factual articles about losing football teams, but those kinds of articles still came until fire, so protection at the state level was a positive step. From the time of the decision in 1988 until 1995, five states passed laws to Illinois, which had lost an earlier battle to the governor’s veto, was successful this time, rallying advisers and students from across the state and realizing the state’s new emphasis on news literacy and civics education could work in their favor. But those aren’t the only states that have something going now. Twenty- one others are listed on NewVoicesUSA, a site launched by Steve Listopad, whose students developed the North Dakota New Voices, and now with input from Frank LoMonte, SPLC director. Updates on the site include news of favorable passage at various levels in some states and painful, crippling amendments in others. In an effort to pool the knowledge and share strategies for passing such bills, the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State hosted State Legislation Protecting Student Press Freedom: New Voices on the Move, a legislative symposium in November 2016. Student media advisers at both the high school and college levels, scholastic press association leaders, lobbyists and others concerned with student voices from 17 states and the District of Columbia spent a day covering various aspects that those who want to pass such a bill in their state should know. The nine-part set of videos includes panels about success stories, state updates, making the case and lobbying successfully and what to do after the law passes.