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Law Protects Newspaper Advisers

California public school teachers have at least one piece of job security in these turbulent economic times. A new state law took effect on January 1 protecting teachers from “being dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred or otherwise retaliated against for acting to protect a student's speech,” according to The Sacramento Bee.

The Journalism Teacher Protection Act comes after First Amendment advocates documented 16 instances in two years in California of newspaper advisers being disciplined for student content. The law closes a loophole to a 2006 bill that protected students from censorship and punitive measures by administrators, but provided no protection to employees. Sponsors of the bill say administrators used the loophole to exercise de facto campus censorship by clamping down on journalism advisers instead of the students.

Faculty advisers are grateful for the bill, the most stringent of its kind in the country.

"My job is to defend the right of self-expression by my students," Janice White, a newspaper adviser in Oak Ridge, told the newspaper. "This piece of legislation allows me to do that."

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