Policies and practices designed to respect free expression and encourage discourse and discussion are rarely, if ever, disturbed by courts B. The decision to remove material is more vulnerable, and often places motivation for the removal at issue since actions motivated by hostility to particular ideas or speakers is not permitted C. The deference frequently shown school administrators with regard to the curriculum is not always accorded when a dispute arises over material in the school library Introduction: This document describes in practical terms what the right to freedom of expression means for the public schools.
Censorship The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship is not easy to define. In many countries, censorship is most often directed at political ideas or criticism of the government. Advocates for censorship often target materials that discuss sexuality, religion, race and ethnicity—whether directly or indirectly.
Others think schools are wrong to allow discussion about sexual orientation in sex education or family life classes, and others would eliminate The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the English curriculum because of racial references.
Most pressures for censorship come from parents who disapprove of language or ideas that differ from or affront their personal views and values, but demands can emerge from anywhere across the religious, ideological, and political spectrum.
Many demands appear motivated by anxiety about changing social conditions and traditions. Feminism, removal of prayer from schools, the emergence of the gay rights movement, and other trends with implications for family structure and personal values, have all generated calls for censorship.
Censorship demands require educators to balance First Amendment obligations and principles against other concerns — such as maintaining the integrity of the educational program, meeting state education requirements, respecting the judgments of professional staff, and addressing deeply held beliefs in students and members of the community.
Pursuant to these principles, lower courts generally defer to the professional judgments of educators. As discussed in Fact Sheet 8, this sometimes means that the courts will uphold a decision to remove a book or to discipline a teacher, if it appears to serve legitimate educational objectives, including administrative efficiency.
However, administrators and educators who reject demands for censorship are on equally strong or stronger grounds. Most professional educational organizations strongly promote free expression and academic freedom as necessary to the educational process.
It is highly improbable that a school official who relied on these principles and refused to accede to pressures to censor something with educational value would ever be ordered by a court of law to do so. There are practical and educational as well as legal reasons to adhere as closely as possible to the ideals of the First Amendment.
School districts such as Panama City, Florida and Hawkins County, Tennessee have been stunned to find that acceding to demands for removal of a single book escalated to demands for revising entire classroom reading programs.
Other jurisdictions have been pressed to revise the science curriculum, the content of history courses, sex education, drug and alcohol education, and self-esteem programs. Experience has shown far too many times that what appears to be capitulation to a minor adjustment can turn into the opening foray of a major curriculum content battle involving warring factions of parents and politicians, teachers, students and administrators.
Distinguishing Censorship from Selection: Teachers, principals, and school administrators make decisions all the time about which books and materials to retain, add or exclude from the curriculum. They are not committing an act of censorship every time they cross a book off a reading list, but if they decide to remove a book because of hostility to the ideas it contains, they could be.
As long as they were not motivated by hostility to the idea of teaching about evolution, this would not ordinarily be deemed censorship.
The choice to include the material in the fourth grade curriculum tends to demonstrate this was a pedagogical judgment, not an act of censorship.
Not every situation is that simple.The law and its influence on public school districts: Religion, free speech, and due process Our nation’s success as a democracy, our self-interest in prosperity and the economy, and the safety and security of a peace-loving people all rest on our system of public education.
Although it is legal to teach about religion in public schools in a neutral and secular manner, school administrators, teachers and parents should be cognizant of the inherent dangers of bringing religion into the classroom.
10 Public school teachers should carefully consider the following factors. Prayer in Kansas Public Schools: Overview Kansas law requires school observation of a one-minute period of silence, in which students may pray or use the time for quiet reflection.
This is common among most states that have laws addressing school prayer, but the practice is largely controlled by constitutional law. Learn more about the history of public schools in the U.S.
with this timeline. Learn more about the history of public schools in the U.S. with this timeline. The goal is to ensure that Puritan children learn to read the Bible and receive basic information about their Calvinist religion. Thomas Jefferson proposes a two-track educational.
Against this brief overview of the expansive issues involving religion and education in elementary and secondary schools, the debates in this volume can be grouped into five broad categories, the first of which focuses on aid to students in religiously affiliated nonpublic schools.
Student Religious Expression in Public Schools - PowerPoint PPT Presentation The presentation will start after a short (15 second) video ad from one of our sponsors.