Oct 24, 2006

facts are sensitive things

Not fit for a school newspaper?
There are few issues in American education as widely discussed as the achievement gap, the racial divide that separates the academic performance of white and minority students.

But not at Hillsborough High School, where the principal pulled an article detailing the school's achievement gap from the student newspaper.

Principal William Orr called the content inappropriate, even though it focused on data the federal government publicizes under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Instead of a story and chart, students found a gaping hole Monday in the Red & Black, the school newspaper.

"If it's something that has a potential to hurt students' self-esteem, then I have an obligation not to let that happen," he said. "I don't think it's the job of the school newspaper to embarrass the students."
I'd like to hear from the student journalists in the audience. (You know who you are.)

[Link via Obscure Store.]

Update: the T/R/P writes, "Hang in there, student journalists. Sounds like you did good work. Keep writing. Maybe someday we as a country will give a damn."


Aaron said...

Working with that kind of powerlessness is the most unsettling aspect of high school journalism. Outlook has taken more, and subtler safeguards then the typical high school newspaper has in place, such as presenting ourselves as an "Open Forum," which accords us many more freedoms, but these are the kinds of freedoms we don't want to have to use, because then we have already lost. Ultimatly if it comes down to a battle versus the adminstration or even the wider community, we lose. Even if the article is published, we lose something, be in our advisor, our grade or our future freedom. Capital's paper is not under prior review (where the admin approves it prior to publishing), but now we keep the line in sharp focus and try not to toe it, and it seems like an inevitable step. In effect, we are almost censoring ourselves, which in the real world is called journalistic responsibility, but it pains me when we go the safe route, when we give up on a fight because we don't want to incur the wrath of the adminstration. How do we stop from becoming a school newsletter to parents? Imagine Headline: Capital Rocks! Text: Go Capital! Where do we make a stand? This is a huge issue in every high school newspaper across the country, and it stems from the fact that civil liberties are close to nonexistant in public school systems.

Jim Anderson said...

In this case, the facts were already widely available in the press, and publicized by the federal government, and yet the principal still intervened in the name of "self-esteem." I wonder if he feels the same way about football scores. Or maybe Hillsborough High's never had a losing streak?

teacherrefpoet said...

A St. Petersburg Times columnist gets it right here:


teacherrefpoet said...

Oh, bugger. It didn't print right. I'll post it on my blog.