Society of Professional Journalists
Improving and protecting journalism since 1909

Advertisement
— ADVERTISEMENT —
Advertise with SPJ
8

News and More
Click to Expand Instantly

SPJ News
Events and Deadlines
SPJ Blogs
Quill Online
SPJ on Tumblr
Journalist's Toolbox

Stay in Touch
Twitter Tumblr Facebook Google Plus
RSS Pinterest Pinterest Storify


More SPJ News
Press Notes
Publications
SPJ Blogs
Quill
SPJ Leads
The EIJ News
Press Notes
SPJ News
Open Doors
Geneva Conventions
Annual FOI Reports

Home > SPJ News > SPJ calls on Pennsylvania school district to restructure high school publications policy

SPJ News
Latest SPJ News | RSS


SPJ calls on Pennsylvania school district to restructure high school publications policy


5/21/2014


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
David Cuillier, SPJ National President, 520.248.6242, spjdave@yahoo.com
Ellen Kobe, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317.920.4785, ekobe@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists expressed dismay Wednesday about a high school censorship case in Neshaminy School District in Pennsylvania. The organization, which represents about 8,000 journalists throughout the nation, sent a letter to Neshaminy School District Board President Scott Congdon addressing its concerns.

After editors at the Neshaminy High School student newspaper refused to print “Redskins” as the school’s mascot name, the board of directors released a publications policy addressing what the students are and are not permitted to publish. SPJ believes the current version of the publications policy doesn't comply with the First Amendment or with Pennsylvania's student press rights law.

“By creating policies with such harsh restrictions, you’re failing your students,” wrote President David Cuillier. “Putting students under the tightest possible levels of control will only leave them unprepared for college and uncompetitive in the workforce.”

Furthermore, the Society sees this policy as a threat to the future of democracy.

“A free press has been known to expose unethical businesses, corrupt political leaders and dangerous criminals,” Cuillier wrote. “If the nation’s educators teach young student journalists to accept being silenced or swayed by authority, they will not gain the skills or instincts to provide this service to the American people. Furthermore, they will not understand their freedom of speech rights given to them by the First Amendment.”

SPJ thanked the school board for postponing the review of this policy and offered its help in crafting a new revision of the policy.

“We would be delighted to work with the school board to craft a publications policy that is both respectful of the school district and appropriate for your journalism students to learn in a safe environment,” Cuillier wrote.

A copy of Cuillier’s full letter to Congdon can be found below this statement.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit http://www.spj.org/.

- END -


Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208

May 21, 2014

Mr. Scott E. Congdon
President
Neshaminy School District's School Board
2250 Langhorne-Yardley Road
Langhorne, PA 19047

Dear Mr. Congdon:

The Society of Professional Journalists disagrees with your attempts to censor student publications in the Neshaminy School District and thanks you for postponing the current version of your publications policy in this week’s school board meeting. Our organization — which represents 8,000 journalists throughout the nation — is hoping that you’ll reconsider enacting such a policy.

The publications policy and subsequent updates that the district has released doesn't even attempt to comply with the First Amendment or with Pennsylvania's excellent student press rights law. By creating policies with such harsh restrictions, you’re failing your students. Putting students under the tightest possible levels of control will only leave them unprepared for college and uncompetitive in the workforce.

Restrictive policies such as these are a threat to the survival of democracy. A free press has been known to expose unethical businesses, corrupt political leaders and dangerous criminals. If the nation’s educators teach young student journalists to accept being silenced or swayed by authority, they will not gain the skills or instincts to provide this service to the American people. Furthermore, they will not understand their freedom of speech rights given to them by the First Amendment.

We would be delighted to work with the school board to craft a publications policy that is both respectful of the school district and appropriate for your journalism students to learn in a safe environment. If you’re interested in collaborating with us in these efforts, please contact me with the information below.

Sincerely,

David Cuiller, Ph.D.
President
Society of Professional Journalists
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
spjdave@yahoo.com
520.248.6242

Copyright © 1996-2014 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789

Contact SPJ Headquarters
Employment Opportunities
Advertise with SPJ