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ERIC Number: EJ1020379
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0145-9635
The Internet, Free Speech, and Schools: Why the Courts Have It Wrong and Why Parents and Schools Need to Get It Right
Blacher, Michael; Weaver, Roger
Independent School, v72 n2 Win 2013
On the morning of December 16, 1965, in Des Moines, Iowa, a 13-year-old junior high school student named Beth Tinker got dressed and went to school. She wore a black armband to protest the war in Vietnam. The school promptly suspended her for wearing a symbol of political dissent. So began one of the nation's most celebrated cases involving student free speech, commonly known as "Tinker." Four years later, the United States Supreme Court famously declared that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Schools could no longer discipline students for expressing their opinion unless it involved a "substantial disruption" or met other, limited restrictions. Though independent schools are typically not bound by the constraints of the First Amendment (California private secondary schools are the notable exception), "Tinker" and its progeny still resonate. The desire of students to express their political and personal views is universal, and most independent school educators would agree that classrooms should be a "marketplace of ideas." Nevertheless, independent schools must set appropriate boundaries when it comes to students expressing their views, particularly negative characterizations of other members of the school community. In this article the author evaluates the challenges faced by today's educators in a landscape where outlets for student expression are constant and varied and "Tinker's" standards must be reinterpreted in a 21st-century context. Recommendations for courts conclude the article.
National Association of Independent Schools. 1620 L Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-793-6701; Tel: 202-973-9700; Fax: 202-973-9790; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Bethel School District 403 v Fraser; California Education Code; First Amendment; Tinker v Des Moines Independent School District
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A