Ever since 911 I’ve worried about our freedoms…and, as a journalist, about the right to freedom of speech. All of my life I’ve kind of taken it for granted that the media has a right to seek and tell the truth. In these times that right can not be taken for granted.
And ever since leaving the real world for the shifting shadow and light world of education I’ve found an even more frightening situation. I’ve heard about attempts by school districts and administrators to restrain the rights of student journalists…some successful/some not. These stories used to chill me. I just couldn’t believe that an educator – a person in charge of guiding young minds – would deny anyone the rights guaranteed every citizen. It happens – believe me.
I found it curious that my first principal was very nervous when the issue came up – he knew the state education code and district policy prohibited prior restraint…and asked that I be careful with a very touchy story.
In my present situation I am not facing a wary principal, but an administrator who told me last week that, “video is not journalism” and he had a right to review any material my students wanted to enter in contests (and I assume want to put in the daily student bulletin…scheduled to go online in October).
Funny…I could have sworn I’ve been shooting video for years and it was journalism. It seems to me that newspapers are doing this daily too.
We all have choices…the last time the rights of student journalists came up I told him I was tired and really didn’t want to fight. I was right and he did not have the right to prior restraint. When the dust settled, the students published and nothing happened.
My choices this time are bothersome. As much as I truly love working with students, I abhor the politics and childish behavior that goes along with working as a teacher. All I want to do is my best at helping students learn. So what to do? Shutting up and obeying mindlessly is not an option. I’ve been considering leaving and finding a job more suitable for a malcontent…but that leaves my kids in the wake. Having a knock-down, drag-out fight is not my style….I’m more of the sit-in type. Passive resistance. Listen to the ranting and calmly refuse to give in. But it is tiring and a waste of both of our times.
Oh well. Give it time…