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Hold the Presses

In 2004, Teri Hu, a California teacher was removed as the advisor for the student newspaper after it questioned the judgment of the school and a teacher, according to the San Francisco Gate. Last spring, it was widely reported that Amy Sorrell, an Indiana journalism teacher was placed on paid leave for insubordination and then transferred after the student newspaper ran an article advocating gay rights. The 1988 Supreme Court ruling, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, allows principals and teachers to censor objectionable articles in public school newspapers, but what protects the many teachers who are demoted or lose their jobs in the fray?

The San Francisco Gate reports that a California state Senate committee has approved a bill that would shield high school and college journalism teachers from retaliation in incidents of censorship. (California law already covers students’ rights to publish articles provided they are not libelous, obscene, or inciting disorder or lawlessness.) Katherine Swan, who retired in 2006 after 35 years in San Francisco schools and encountered several instances of attempted censorship herself, had the following to say on the proposed bill, “Anything that supports journalism teachers gives you a feeling that you can give the kids the power to write honestly and truthfully.”

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