As our great keynote speaker, panelists, and audience members discussed the 25-year history of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier last week, it became clear that there still is scholarly work that needs to be done in this important area of law. Here are a few of the interesting questions raised at the conference:
What are the connections between school culture, student free expression, and civic engagement?
Are public school journalism programs being cut due to overall budget cuts?
What are the academic backgrounds of school media advisers, and do they matter? Is a media adviser with a background in the humanities more likely to support student free expression than an adviser with a background in math or science? One audience member asked whether social studies teachers, who should care about civic engagement, should work with student journalists. Another person observed that teachers too often don’t work outside their subject-specific silos.
How are charter schools regulating the expressive activities of their students? One of our panelists observed that charter schools are public schools that want to operate like private schools. She said there are many examples of censorship by charter schools and of charter schools with no student media at all. California has enacted a statute to prevent charter schools from denying their students’ constitutional rights.
What has been the impact of the nation’s political polarization on student free expression?
What, if anything, is left of Tinker?
What is online student speech, and what is offline student speech? (Or, more eloquently, where is the schoolhouse gate?) How do and should courts differentiate between the two?
Keynote speaker Erwin Chemerinsky said the Supreme Court treats schools as authoritarian institutions – like prisons. To what extent is the Court correct? What does that mean for student free expression?
If you have other questions to share, please post a comment. Thanks for the great conference, everyone!