Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tinkering With Rights And Authority

I sharply disagree with this editorial. The Tinker decision, in which --...the Supreme Court proclaimed that schoolchildren don't “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”-- is a poor one.  Schools (k-12) are dedicated to education. While discussions of current events are critical to fulfilling that function, political protest can be profoundly disruptive.  The learning environment requires  mutual effort and cooperative interactions, while protest is defined as disruptive and conflict oriented.

Furthermore, the authority of the school is undermined by the Tinker decision.  If we insist that free speech rights can not be limited for students, how can the school limit vulgarity or defiance?  Why can a student not wear pornographic images?  Why must a student be silent while the teacher lectures?

Of course students do not lose their rights at the classroom door, but the nature of the educational experience does limit those rights under the special circumstance of attending classes.

The issue of the classic concept of schools acting in loco parentis, that is as a parent in the absence of the actual parents, has been deeply eroded, but surely some level of authority must exist if schools are to function.

Court ruling shows hazy high school freedom

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