Saturday, April 28, 2007

Prior Restraint

A high school teacher who faced losing her job after a student newspaper published an editorial advocating tolerance of gays can continue teaching at another school.

Amy Sorrell, 30, reached an agreement that allows her to be transferred to another high school to teach English, said her attorney, Patrick Proctor.

"The school administration has said in no uncertain terms that she's not going to be given a journalism position," Proctor said.
School officials in the conservative northern Indiana community about 10 miles east of Fort Wayne said Sorrell did not comply with an agreement to alert the principal about controversial articles.

Obviously, I'm glad she's not being fired outright, but still: an editorial advocating tolerance for gays is nowhere near the boundaries of what should even raise an eyebrow at a student newspaper. The "agreement" to alert the principle about "controversial" articles strike me as nebulous language--what constitutes "controversials" (answer: equality!). I'm clearly spoiled by the fact that my high school newspaper did not undergo any sort of prior review or restraint by the administration, but it's cases like these which show who has the better model.

Schools are there to open kids' minds, not stifle them. Unfortunately, the administrators in this district seem to have other goals for their system. Shame.

1 comment:

PG said...

Any discussion of homosexuality by the local standards would have been controversial; unless the principal hadn't minded when a student published an ANTI-homosexual piece w/o his having been "alerted," I don't find it unreasonable to scold a teacher for having violated a rule, though firing her or refusing to let her teach journalism is ridiculous.

It's reasonable for a principal, the cynosure of students', teachers and parents' ire, to want to know what he's going to be getting yelled at about. Prior restraint is a bit different from prior notification; it's standard news journalistic practice, for example, to call a person you're writing about to get her comment or response, but of course you don't let her censor what you say about her. I'm saddened that some people still think a call for tolerance is reason to be angry, but I guess the call wouldn't be necessary if there weren't such people.