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Protect Student Journalism in New Jersey

This petition had 139 supporters


Support NJ Bill A4912 to protect student journalists' freedoms of speech and press and to protect student journalism advisers from administrative retaliation.

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In New Jersey public high schools and colleges, student journalism is increasingly subjected to administrative censorship. The law currently allows administrators to censor school sponsored publications if they are "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns." Unfortunately, administrators have begun to abuse their power by censoring all content that may be unflattering or inconsistent with administrative messaging. Student journalists and their advisers have no way to protest or debate these changes. Worse still, students can be threatened by discontinuation of their publication, and their advisers can be removed from their positions or fired from their teaching posts altogether. 

Administrators with legitimate concerns should work through their student advisers to curb legitimate concerns with student publications. By directly assuming the power to freely edit student publications, administrators restrict students' freedoms of speech and press, mute student voices, and deny students valuable educational experiences in which they may learn to become ethical citizens.

We propose enacting new safeguards to protect student journalists and their advisers from these administrative abuses. NJ Bill A4912, introduced by Assemblywoman Donna Simon, has the following key proposals:

1. "A public school student shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press...By the 2016-2017 school year, each school district shall adopt a written policy concerning student freedom of expression"

2. "An employee of a school district shall not be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a student engaged in the conduct authorized under this section, or refusing to infringe upon conduct that is protected by this section, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or paragraph 6 of Article I of the New Jersey Constitution."

This bill is supported by the New Voices of New Jersey, Garden State Scholastic Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists, New Jersey Press Association, Student Press Law Center, New Jersey Education Association and all those signing this petition.

You can read more here.

We hope you will support this act to protect student journalism in New Jersey. 



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