Two states make progress on student free expression laws
Thursday was a big day in Iowa and Colorado as two bills made progress in each state’s legislature, bills that would add teacher protections to the existing student free expression laws in those states.
The Colorado addendum made it through the House of Representatives with a 59-0 vote Thursday with 36 representatives signing on as co-sponsors. The Senate will next schedule a hearing.
Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash
Iowa’s version of the legislation, Senate File 2138, earned a scheduled hearing in the Education subcommittee of the Iowa Senate. The hearing is set for Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 12:30 p.m. Iowa High School Press Association director Paul Jensen encouraged students and advisers who have time to pop into the state capitol for the hearing.
Of the 14 states that currently have “New Voices” laws providing full First Amendment freedoms for student journalists, only eight have adopted language that provides some protection for their advisers.
Advocates in Colorado hope to update students’ protections by passing a bill that will protect advisers from administrative backlash as well as expand the protection of student journalism to include audio and visual elements. The new language would also lessen the likelihood that students would self-censor for fear of administrative retaliation against teachers.
“The advisers are employees and they are members of the school faculty almost always, but they’re also advocates for students and they are their journalism coaches, if you will,” said Jack Kennedy, the executive director of the Colorado Student Media Association and a member of the Quill and Scroll board. “So they’re sort of caught in between.”
Read more about the bill here.
Other states are considering New Voices laws during their legislative sessions, including Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Keep track of all those here.
Also, Q&S Student Advisory Board member Mira Bohannon Kumar produced a podcast about student free expression laws. She spoke with her co-editor of The Little Hawk in Iowa City, a state legislator and a law professor.
Teacher unions stand up against student involvement in lockdown drills
Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash
Teachers unions and parent advocacy groups are banding together to call for a restructuring of the active shooter drills that take place in schools all across America. The advocacy groups Everytown For Gun Safety, American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are joining together to call for a reassessment of the active shooter drill training held in schools that rely on student involvement.
Ninety-five percent of schools hold some sort of active shooter drill according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The effects of active shooter drills can leave some students scared and in fear for their lives when drills are not expected in the normal drudge of the school day.
Everytown for Gun Safety released a plan for prevention of mass shootings in 2019, including steps that schools should take in preparing their students and staff members if an active shooting should occur. The plan does not include active shooter drills.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety in America believe that prevention starts at home. They call for gun safety, prevention and awareness at home so that students who are exposed to guns in their home understand the impact of the weapon.
Other members of the American Federation of Teachers believe teachers should be trained to keep students’ safety at the forefront of their minds, so that students do not have to go through active shooter drills.
Read more here.