Feb 7, 2007

HB 1307 all about power-hungry journalism teachers, columnist claims

In an op-ed for the Times, Bruce Ramsey dials in a lot of the same issues we've already discussed here. However, he adds another wrinkle to the debate:
HB 1307 would give students the entire power at public colleges and most of the power in public high schools — which is where the controversy is. It would allow the high-school principal to read the paper before going to press and to make changes to avoid libel, invasion of privacy or incitement to disruption. If he changed anything, he and the school district could face a lawsuit for going beyond these exceptions. If he changed nothing, all the liability would be held by the student editor (and perhaps his parents).

The students who spoke for the bill said they were willing to take the responsibility. But when a teenager says, "I'll take the responsibility," what does it mean? Maybe not a lot.

Most interesting was the attitude of the teachers. They all supported the bill. Though it would leave a teacher with no more legal power than the principal, legal power is not the only kind of power there is. The teacher is with the students. Often the conflicts over what can be printed are between the teacher and the principal.

Really, this is a bill to enhance the power of journalism teachers. It allows the students to pretend they are adult journeymen, which they are not, and allows the teachers to get the principals off their backs. It has little to do with the world those students will inhabit if they go to work for a real newspaper.


Nuss said...

Um ... no. This is not what this bill is about. Trust me, I am not power hungry. Notice that this bill does not protect me, the adviser/teacher, from liability. Yet, I still support it -- and support it vigorously.

This bill is about empowering students -- what every great teacher desires to do. We want them to take ownership over their education. That's when they produce their best work ... and learn the most.

A good adviser does precisely that -- advises -- then lets the students make well-thought-out decisions. My students do it everyday, and others would, too, if only given the opportunity.

Nuss said...

Check out the TNT editorial. I believe it eloquently sums up what's great about this bill, and why those good qualities far outweigh concerns ...


Jim Anderson said...

Even if it does increase journalism teachers' power--so what? They deserve more power, since they're largely on the side of the angels in censorship disputes. Ramsey seems to assume that the extant relationship is already balanced and "right."

Nuss said...

Couldn't agree with you more.

He's right on one thing, though -- we are, indeed, the ones who have the most influence over the kids. However, that should be an even BETTER reason to take administrators out of the equation and LET US DO OUR JOBS!

By the way, I'm glad I ran across your blog -- I'm enjoying reading it.

If you're interested in my other thoughts on 1307, you can find them at my blog here: http://hanginwithnuss.blogspot.com/search/label/House%20Bill%201307

Of particular interest to you might be the letter I submitted to the Times after their EXTREMELY misguided editorial last week. I think it answers the flaws in their reasoning.

Nuss said...

Let's try that again.