Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Another national voice on student expression

This opinion piece from the American Press Institute does a good job of explaining the differences between legislation in Washington state and in Kansas. In Washington, the bill would give final authority to publish legal speech to students. In Kansas, the bill would mandate approval by an appointed board of review. Kansas already has a free press law for students. A snippet:

The debate in statehouses and elsewhere ought to be about providing increased opportunities for education, information -- and perhaps even a bit of inspiration -- to student journalists, rather than getting bogged down in already-futile exchanges over regulation.

Students will express themselves in some fashion regardless of what parents, lawmakers, school officials or others decide. The focus should be on providing funds and staff to ensure student journalism is made an integral, effective part of the educational experience.

The alternative won't guarantee either control or sensibility. More likely it will marginalize student voices and send them increasingly to unregulated and unsupervised communication methods - the Web and social-networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube with their ever-growing number of unregulated imitators and innovators.

Gene Policinski of the First Amendment Center wrote the above passage as part of his guest editorial, and the rest is worth a read also. Policinski's words are so important. They help raise the awareness and understanding of this important issue.

It's clear through editorials like the one printed in The Seattle Times a couple weeks ago that there are many, many professional journalists who would easily trade away student rights for the perceived superiority of their own jobs. We must work to change that perspective. The commercial media do not operate under the same set of standards of ownership as the public media do. And students are not agents of the state, nor should they have to submit their ideas for approval by school government officials.

Thank you, Mr. Policinski, for your important opinion piece. May more follow in similar forums.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

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