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U.S. Kids Don't Understand First Amendment 2124

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the more-than-a-little-scary dept.
l4m3z0r writes "This rather alarming article discusses a study of high-school students in which they were asked about censorship, protected speech, and other aspects of the first amendment. The results are extremely worrisome: "Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories." and this "Three in four students said flag burning is illegal. It's not. About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It can't.".."
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U.S. Kids Don't Understand First Amendment

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  • Accuracy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fembots (753724) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:31PM (#11531673) Homepage
    Are all/most surveyed students born and brought up in America?

    And does the First Amendment still feel the same after newly introduced Bills like PATRIOT ACT?

    For instance, some countries have this Internal Security Act which allows government to imprison anyone for a couple of years without trial, and with that shadowing above your head, does it still matter if you're protected by another ancient right?

    It's like a F1 driver still feels safe driving on slicks after it starts raining.
    • Re:Accuracy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:34PM (#11531714)



      The government wants people to give up their rights, either voluntarily or through attrition. "Terrorism" is today what "Communism" was in the 50's. Smarten up, kids. You'll be living in a corporate controlled country when you grow up.

      • Re:Accuracy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dashing Leech (688077) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:52PM (#11532034)
        "The government wants people to give up their rights, either voluntarily or through attrition."

        Absolutely. Propaganda works wonders. After all, how else do you explain that half of Americans believe Iraq was involved in 9/11 [commondreams.org]. It certainly doesn't suprise me that students don't understand what the government can and can't do when they don't learn it in schools and the media doesn't cover it because it isn't sex, violence, or an entertaining show.

        • Re:Accuracy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dosius (230542) <bridget@buric.co> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:02PM (#11532193) Journal
          If they can convince the kids that such rights don't exist, then when the kids are grown up they can make the rights disappear without them noticing or caring.

          Pity.

          Moll.
        • Re:Accuracy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cgranade (702534) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {edanargc}> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:20PM (#11532478) Homepage Journal
          The best propaganda is that which people do not believe is propaganda. If it is accepted in schools as "cirriculum," then it can't be propaganda, can it? Furthermore, propaganda can take the form of silence on a specific issue, or acting upon an implicit assumption. Very rarely did Americans hear "the hijackers were from Iraq," which is blatantly false, but rather they heard "Iraq had a part in 9/11," and saw us act as if the hijackers were from Iraq. These implicit assumptions are perhaps the strongest and most insidious of the forms which American propaganda takes today.
    • Re:Accuracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JPriest (547211) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:45PM (#11531898) Homepage
      Any study that pulls a "random" cross section of the American population is usually equally as shocking. Few Americans could even tell you that it takes the earth 365.25 days to revolve around the sun, many don't know what makes the moon light up. Only like 25% op them can find Iraq on a globe. I am willing to bet that a greater percentage could tell you Britney Spears' middle name or name the entire cast of Sex In The City.

      You wonder why Americans are so fat, when most of them think carbs are something are bad for you, when hardly any of them can explain what "callories from fat" means.

      Meanwhile, insurance rates in this countly are through the roof for buisness getting sued into the ground becasue someone stupid hurt themselves with their product, because the warning label did not state something that should have been common sense.[/rant]

      • Re:Accuracy (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:52PM (#11532023)
        Few Americans could even tell you that it takes the earth 365.25 days to revolve around the sun

        Actually, Mr Know-it-all it's closer to 365.242.

    • Here is the study (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aqua OS X (458522) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:58PM (#11532135)
      Well, here is the study

      Future of First Amendment Report (456K) PDF [jideas.org]

      Country of origin was not taken into account with their research. That variable might be worth examining if student misconceptions were relatively low. Yet, considering the popularity of misconceptions far outweighs the possible number of students born abroad, it's not really worth examining.
      Moreover, there are already sociological studies with that data... you can probably find some full-text research on Ebsco.

    • Re:Accuracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DarkTempes (822722) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:09PM (#11532299)
      another bit on accuracy: when you fill out these little paper surveys in high school, how many people just put crap as an answer or how many people typically put what they think is the silliest answer? i'd say only 5 to 10% of high school students ever take such surveys serious unless the university doing the study actually phone or personally interviewed more than 100,000 students...which i doubt somewhere some company probably thinks at my high school, everyone got laid 5+ times a day and did every single drug known to man =)
  • by garcia (6573) * on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:31PM (#11531676) Homepage
    The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, is billed as the largest of its kind. More than 100,000 students, nearly 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators at 544 public and private high schools took part in early 2004.

    Now this is NOT an insignificant study. 100k students and only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories? Excuse me? This misinformation must be coming from somewhere... Are these kids skipping American History/Civics and moving into Psychology and Sociology courses instead?

    About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It can't.

    Well, unfortunately it HAS been restricting indecent material. Forcing various institutions to enable filters on content. Yeah, it can't stop ALL the content out there but it is getting closer and closer to that. With the scare tactics and every parent believing that every sensationalist news "story" on the TV is GOING TO AFFECT THEIR CHILDREN they are pushing this crap through without thinking about the consequences.

    The study suggests that students embrace First Amendment freedoms if they are taught about them and given a chance to practice them, but schools don't make the matter a priority.

    Of course they don't. Going through high-school English classes I was told repeatedly how I was to respond when it came time for essay exams. If you did not give the teacher what they wanted you were given a poor grade. It wasn't until college (and I remember our second semester English professor being appalled) that I was able to write how I felt about a topic and back it up with real information. The professor would grade you on your research and your proof and not how he/she particularly felt the topic should be supported.

    How can we expect high-school aged kids to think that they should be given a chance to practice their First Amendment rights when they are under the constant force feeding of information?

    More than one in five schools offer no student media opportunities; of the high schools that do not offer student newspapers, 40 percent have eliminated them in the last five years.

    That's because the government and consolidated media doesn't want free thinkers. They want people who follow the status quo. Why stir the pot when you can just report the silly rumors, scare tactics and sensationalism, and car chases above California?
    • by GigsVT (208848) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:35PM (#11531735) Journal
      In high school I was on the newspaper staff for a while. We had a major part of an issue planned for addressing sex in high school, with various stories and features.

      The principal vetoed the whole deal.

      Something similar recently came up at another, and the students just left an entire page blank as a protest.

      How can we teach kids about 1st amendment freedoms when principals have 100% editorial control over school papers?
      • by Mr Guy (547690) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:41PM (#11531834) Journal
        I think that's an excellent lesson in the difference between the first amendment and sponsered speech. You'll notice in your example the principal exercised prior restraint in a publication he controls the funding for in a venue he controls the discipline for. A similiar example would be "Air America" where the government controls the funds and employees. This is not covered by the "freedom of press".

        If a policeman, acting as an agent of the government, had come in and insisted you not publish an article on sex, that would be a free press issue.

        Sounds like you had a learning opportunity and you failed the lesson.
        • by truesaer (135079) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:13PM (#11532347) Homepage
          I think that's an excellent lesson in the difference between the first amendment and sponsered speech. You'll notice in your example the principal exercised prior restraint in a publication he controls the funding for in a venue he controls the discipline for.


          Actually, at my high school we were censored as well and our paper was 100% advertising supported. I think you fail to understand that the principal IS the government. He can't censor the news unless it falls into that category that would disrupt the school environment. Of course, conveniently, the principal is the one who decides this which means it is at his whim.


          The fact is that if the government were supporting a regular newspaper in such a tangental way there is NO way they could censor the content. The only reason they can in this case is that the SCOTUS seems to think that all bets are off when it comes to constitutional rights in schools. And it is then no surprise the the kids don't really care about or want to protect their rights, since they didn't have them for the first 18 fucking years!!!

        • by justins (80659) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:21PM (#11532487) Homepage Journal
          I think that's an excellent lesson in the difference between the first amendment and sponsered speech. You'll notice in your example the principal exercised prior restraint in a publication he controls the funding for in a venue he controls the discipline for.

          You've got it all wrong. The principal was constitutionally off-base in restricting the speech, as it is the taxpayer who is funding the paper. He was acting as a representative of the government, and the government cannot selectively restrict speech in this way.

          Anyone interested in learning more ought to google "NEA first amendment" or something to that effect. The National Endowment of the Arts is the traditional lightning rod for speech restriction by government, since there are so many artists funded by the program who try to be deliberately provocative, and so many hicks responsible for legislating funding for the program. Traditionally the supreme court has found restrictions imposed on the speech of funded artists to be unconstitutional for a few different reasons, although I haven't followed supreme court cases much in the last couple of years, and the federal courts (like the rest of the country) are getting dumber and more conservative...
        • by madro (221107) * on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:34PM (#11532730)
          If the school is funded by tax dollars, then the principal is indeed an agent of the government, and is thus subject to the first amendment. Private schools are another matter.

          A principal does have a competing duty to maintain discipline. The guideline in Hazelwood is that censorship may occur only to prevent "material and substantial disruption".

          Instead of sponsored speech, you may be thinking of commercial speech, which is its own legal world. High school newspapers are, AFAIK, supposed to encourage journalism, not public relations.
      • by Frymaster (171343) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:42PM (#11531849) Homepage Journal
        In high school I was on the newspaper staff for a while. We had a major part of an issue planned... The principal vetoed the whole deal.

        the thing that everyone is forgetting is this: high school is not now nor has it ever been anything like "real life".

        witness: in school, teachers routinely punish the entire class until the party guilty of a particular offense comes forward. in real life, we would call this sort of activity by authorities "terrorism". in school, the mantra of maintaining order is "i don't care who started it." in the real world, we spend billions of dollars on a justice system to figure out "who started it."

        since the dawn of the formal state educational system we have been creatinga purly artificial environment for our children with values, mores and codes of conduct that bear no resemblence to the real world whatsoever.

        so... why should these results be a surprise?

        • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:59PM (#11532149)
          > the thing that everyone is forgetting is this: high school is not now nor has it ever been anything like "real life".
          >
          >witness: in school, teachers routinely punish the entire class until the party guilty of a particular offense comes forward. in real life, we would call this sort of activity by authorities "terrorism". in school, the mantra of maintaining order is "i don't care who started it." in the real world, we spend billions of dollars on a justice system to figure out "who started it."

          Actually, in real life, governments routinely apply laws to the entire population (banning firearms, banning marijuana) due to the irresponsibility of the few. And just as in school -- when it comes down to a sense of fairness or maintaining order, our leaders also don't care who started it.

          Rather than trying to make high school more like real life, we discovered it was more efficient to make real life more like high school.

        • by revery (456516) <charlesNO@SPAMcac2.net> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:20PM (#11532468) Homepage
          You want to know the real bottom line?

          Parents are responsible for their child's education, not the government, not their church, not anyone else in the world, them. We've been screwing things up for years by letting the government run education, and at some point, it's going to have to stop.

      • by madro (221107) * on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:59PM (#11532144)
        In case there are any high schoolers (or parents of high schoolers) reading Slashdot, here's the FAQ from SPLC (Student Press Law Center). I worked on a newspaper in high school and despite the extreme (grade-affecting) hard work found it really rewarding.
        http://splc.org/legalresearch.asp?id=3 [splc.org]

        Q: Do high school students have First Amendment rights?
        A: Yes. As the United States Supreme Court said in 1969, "It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional right to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." But the First Amendment only prohibits government officials from suppressing speech; it does not prevent school censorship at private schools. A state constitution, statute or school policy could provide private school students with free speech protections.

        Q: What about the Hazelwood decision?
        A: Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision, gave public high school officials greater authority to censor some school-sponsored student publications if they chose to do so. But the ruling doesn't apply to publications that have been opened as "public forums for student expression." It also requires school officials to demonstrate some reasonable educational justification before they can censor anything. In addition, some states (currently Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Massachusetts) have passed laws that give students much stronger free expression protection than Hazelwood. Other states are considering such laws.

        Q: What is a "public forum for student expression?"
        A: A student publication is a public forum for student expression when school officials have given student editors the authority to make their own content decisions. A school can do that either through an official policy or by allowing a publication to operate with editorial independence.

        Q: So if policy or practice indicates the content of my publication is determined by students, the Hazelwood decision doesn't apply to me?
        A: That's right. If a student publication is a public forum for student expression, then students are entitled to stronger First Amendment protection. School officials are only allowed to censor forum publications when they can show the publication will cause a "material and substantial disruption" of school activities.

        Q: What about underground or independent student publications? Are they protected from censorship?
        A: Absolutely. Although public schools can establish reasonable restrictions as to the time, place and manner of distribution of underground publications, they cannot absolutely forbid their distribution on school grounds. Like school-sponsored publications that are forums, a school must show substantial disruption before they can censor an independent publication.

        Q: Can a student publication be sued for libel, invasion of privacy or copyright infringement?
        A: Yes, and occasionally they are. In such cases the individual reporter and the editor could be held legally responsible. Court decisions indicate that a school which does not control the content of a student publication may be protected from liability. Students need to be aware that with press freedom does come legal responsibility.

        Q: Can student reporters protect confidential news sources or information?
        A: Some states have "shield laws" and others have court-created privileges that protect journalists from having to reveal this kind of information. However, most states have never explicitly applied these laws to student journalists. You should check your state law before making a promise of confidentiality because once you make such a promise, the law requires you to keep it.

        Q: Can I use freedom of information laws?
        A: Yes. Freedom of information, or "sunshine" laws, require government agencies such as public schools to open many of their official records and
    • by mikesmind (689651) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:36PM (#11531746) Homepage
      That's because the government and consolidated media doesn't want free thinkers. They want people who follow the status quo.

      The role of public schools isn't to produce free thinkers and speakers. It is to get the masses to submit to the government.

      • by raider_red (156642) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:49PM (#11531972) Journal
        Why is this a troll? Several educators, not the least of the them a former teacher of the year [johntaylorgatto.com], share this view. Just because it's a controversial idea does not mean that the poster is trolling.
      • by Mnemia (218659) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:16PM (#11532392)

        I think you're correct about that - or at least that's how the schools see their role these days. They're really more of a venue for people to push whatever political agenda they personally have than for any real education to take place.

        This is the problem with public education in the first place. The government will seek to interfere if given control and the ability to do so. IMHO, the only reason we avoided that kind of crap for a long time in this country was because public education was largely decentralized - funded, run, and controlled by local and state government. But notice that these days the federal government is seeking to interfere more and more all the time? As soon as a central government (or at least ours) takes over total control of education, then it's over for our country. They will produce generations of students who don't know how to question authority in its many forms or be creative, and everything (economy, civil society, etc) will eventually implode. This is why the $50 billion+ budget for the Department of Education really scares me. The reason that money has been appropriated has little to do with improving education and a lot to do with gaining federal leverage over school funding - and by extension, school curriculum.

        Alternatively, you could view this as a business opportunity, since you're one of the "smart ones" who realizes what's happening. Just find some sort of useless shit to sell that all the idiots being turned out by public education will just snap up, and you could become rich! Personally, I'm leaning towards trying to figure out a way to exploit the overly religious (since so many people will just buy anything if they think it comes from a "Christian company", etc).

    • by log0n (18224) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:42PM (#11531843)
      Just an FYI, civics classes (basing from your id #) like we had in high school haven't been around in nearly a decade. In fact, my junior year of HS (94 iirc) was the year civics was entirely phased out (and I went to good HS, properly sized classes, music and art programs in good check, etc). (I work in a public school system and I just checked the 2004-05 HS Catalog of classes just to make sure I wasn't misinforming)

      American History is still taught, but it's basically as a timeline of events. Civics used to cover everything from your responsibilities as a US citizen to the goals and purpose of the amendments, Bill of Rights, etc.

      Basically, everything being taught now comes from a point of view of no judgement calls. If there is something open to interpretation, either it's not taught, or it's taught from a historical context as opposed to the 'meaning' or 'message' of said lesson.

      It's how you can teach a religious studies class in a HS. You can learn the history, you just can't preach the subject matter. The same rules now apply to 'preaching US citizenship'.

      Just FYI.
      • Basically, everything being taught now comes from a point of view of no judgement calls. If there is something open to interpretation, either it's not taught, or it's taught from a historical context as opposed to the 'meaning' or 'message' of said lesson.

        I, personally, view this as the principle problem in public edutainment. Schools are viewed by the general population as having the first priority of "meeting the needs of the students", or something along those lines. They're always talking about building "high self-esteem" or providing a ground for enlightenment. Though I don't think this is "bad", it's the wrong focus and the wrong approach.

        First things first. Public schools first priority should be to teach children how to be "good citizens"-- and no, I don't mean in any fascist sense of "good citizen". Upon completion of twelfth grade, kids should know, at least, the laws they're expected to follow, and the ideals behind these laws. They should be taught about the system of self-government into which they'll be entering, and how to navigate it. The other subjects, such as math, reading, writing, and science, students should know well enough to take care of their own finances, read street signs, write a letter, and not do stupid things like cut into a car battery with a chain-saw.

        I'm certainly not saying education should *stop* there, but the priority of public schools should be to make sure that everyone graduating is a functional citizen capable of fulfilling the responsibilities of the citizenry. Meet that level of education first. Otherwise, we're doing children a disservice, by expecting them to be good citizens without providing them the means.

  • by PrinceAshitaka (562972) * on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:32PM (#11531681) Homepage
    How should students understand the first amendment right when they yet do not have those rights in public schools? (and I am not saying that they should have them.) for example; "Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories." That is not surprising as they in thier school newspaper do not have the ability to pubilsh without teacher approval and "About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It can't" That is not surprising as thier internet use at school is severly restricted in what they can see. Anouther example is with only 83% of the students saying that expression of unpopular views is acceptible, coming from a very nondemocratic enviorment in schoolI can see how that is easily the situation. Students are under the heel of school officials. although, I am a while out of high school and this was just my experience.
    • by ImaLamer (260199) <john@lamar.gmail@com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:07PM (#11532261) Homepage Journal
      "Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories." That is not surprising as they in thier school newspaper do not have the ability to pubilsh without teacher approval and "About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It can't" That is not surprising as thier internet use at school is severly restricted in what they can see.

      But it all goes back to bad education. The American History/Governement teachers aren't doing their jobs. In high-school we did a month of Supreme Court cases... one of the most important parts of history and government.

      We did the First Amendment to death in that time and learned a lot. Learning about big cases that tested the limits of the Constitution is not only fun (to me) but it also allows you to see how free you really are. But back on topic, we learned why you can say anything on Slashdot and why you can't publish anything in your school's newspaper (because it belongs to the school).

      It's not the school environment it's the teaching staff!
  • by Gob Blesh It (847837) <gobblesh1t@gmail.com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:32PM (#11531688)
    "Only half the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories"? Yikes.

    Inside me is a kneejerk activist who wants to point to this as evidence that growing up, as children have since 9/11/01, surrounded by authority figures who casually restrict freedom of speech in the name of guarding against terrorism, encourages children to pattern their thoughts and behavior along similar unfortunate lines.

    But actually, I'd like to know what similar studies have been conducted in years past. If this is the way young adults have always thought, then things probably won't get any worse. What would be disturbing is a trend showing young adults finding restrictions on free speech increasingly acceptable.
  • Ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shreevatsa (845645) <shreevatsa.slashdot@gmail . c om> on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:33PM (#11531711)
    If everyone except the kids understands the FA so well, why does the article have to clear up things like "...thought flag-burning is illegal. It's not", etc.
    Looks like the kids are not the only ones in need of education about the First Amendment?
    • Re:Ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zx75 (304335) on Monday January 31, 2005 @06:40PM (#11533850) Homepage
      Although you wonder about the need to clear things up in the article, it is very useful to those of us who are not american. The statistics are interesting, and they are an indicator to us as to what sort of things to look for in our own students, but I had no idea if flag burning was legal or illegal in the US.
  • by damian cosmas (853143) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:34PM (#11531718)
    ...after all, most adults don't know the first amendment, either, when they go off about how parties other than the government are "violating their first amendment rights."
  • by kzinti (9651) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:34PM (#11531719) Homepage Journal
    ...eighty percent of the same group, when asked to locate the USA on a map of North America, pointed to Canada.
  • by VE3ECM (818278) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:36PM (#11531751)
    Seriously, I wonder what the results would be if this study were stretched out to include adults as well as teenagers?

    I'd bet dollars-to-donuts the results would be almost identical.

    The problem isn't with the kids; it's the system that allows these kids to develop ideas like these that's the problem.
    No child left behind, indeed. Does it count when they've *all* been left behind?

  • Even more scary.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by revscat (35618) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:38PM (#11531786) Journal
    From the CNN article:
    Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

    People die to defend these rights, and some of our students don't even know what these rights are?

    Hey conservatives! Maybe if instead of worrying about absitence only education and attacking Darwinism you spent your efforts in communicating why and how we are a free society, and why that is of tantamount importance, we could all get along here, hm? Cuz I'll be honest with you, I'll stand shoulder to shoulder with James "Spongebob Is Gay" Dobson if it means we get the message out loud and clear about the Bill of RIghts.

  • by slavemowgli (585321) * on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:38PM (#11531792) Homepage
    The funny thing about flag burning and all those attempts to make it illegal (or the idea that it already is) is that when you ask a conservative who actually knows about these things, you'll find out that burning a flag is actually the only proper way to get rid of one when you have to - for example, to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy. For some reason, those pushing for a law that would make burning flags illegal never seem to know about that.

    Not that I myself care about what happens to a flag in the slightest, of course - if you're a soldier and in a fight, you probably have better things to do than worry about than a piece of cloth that probably was produced in a sweatshop in communist China, anyway.

    It's funny how these neocons aren't actually conservative in the actual sense of the word, though.
  • by afabbro (33948) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:39PM (#11531794) Homepage
    After all, it's not like it means what it says. "Congress shall make no law..." has been reinterpreted and watered-down so much that it takes years of graduate study to understand.

    The first amendment, after all, doesn't say that "Congress shall make no law except for laws barring child pornography, the exposure of military secrets, and naughty words on the radio."

    Not that I don't favor barring child porn, but you know, if you want to do that, you need to change the amendment...

    Yeah, yeah, I know all about our English Common Law system and all that. I'm just saying, you can't blame people for not understanding the law...and frankly, the law is always a mushy, malleable pile of goo if the Supreme Court can change the meaning of pretty plain words.

  • by Guncrazy (633221) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:43PM (#11531872)
    After all, American public schools:

    ...Ban [sptimes.com] the display of the Confederate flag.

    ...ban pictures [nsba.org] of guns.

    ... dissent on widely held scientific theories. [cnn.com]

    ...write speech codes [speechcodes.org] that severely penalize students for voicing their opinions. [brain-terminal.com]

    ...and a legion of similar examples.

    If the American judiciary can't understand the First Amendment, how the hell are America's students supposed to?

  • So IOW... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:46PM (#11531915) Homepage
    So in other words their government-provided schooling is doing its job.
  • just curious... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jxyama (821091) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:46PM (#11531928)
    but how were the questions asked? any survey like this involves inherent bias in the questioning...

    asking:
    can the government restrict internet contents for obscene material?

    will get a vastly different answer than:
    should the government restrict internet contents for obscene material?

    but both question can be reported as "X% of students feel government can strict obscene material on the internet."

  • what do you expect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tsiangkun (746511) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:47PM (#11531932) Homepage
    Good Red State American's don't want freedom . . . they want super bowls, super bowl commercials, and cold beer with a born on date. This life is supposed to suck ass, and the more it sucks the bigger the reward in heaven.

    Freedom of the press, isn't that what leads to disagreements ? Can't we all just adopt the sanctioned viewpoint of our leaders, put this in the past, and look forward to all the great shopping opportunities we have available in this fine country ?

  • Demographics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jabber01 (225154) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:51PM (#11532019)
    I would *love* to see the demographic distribution/correlation of the students surveyed, in particular Blue vs Red states, private vs public schools, political and denominational majority in their school district, as well as economic backgrounds.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:52PM (#11532030)
    I am not at all surprised by the results, high school kids live in an opressive environment so it's no wonder they think the world is like this.

    Far more interesting would be to ask people in college the same question, and see how much an open environment led them to expand expectations of freedoms.
  • Is this suprising? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eslyjah (245320) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:52PM (#11532033)
    Most Americans don't understand the First Amendment. What percent of Americans know that the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom? What percent know that religious freedom is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment? Lots of people seem to think it's only about speech for some reason.
  • by de_boer_man (459797) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:52PM (#11532038)
    From the FA:

    About nine in 10 principals said it is important for all students to learn some journalism skills, but most administrators say a lack of money limits their media offerings.

    More than one in five schools offer no student media opportunities; of the high schools that do not offer student newspapers, 40 percent have eliminated them in the last five years.

    Lack of money limits their media offerings, but they'd rather plunge a red-hot porcupine up their asses than cut a football or basketball program, even if their program is losing money.

    I don't doubt that schools and students benefit from sporting programs. But what life skills are actually learned in sporting programs? Instead of cutting sports, they cut the arts, funding for computer labs, and so-called "media offerings."

    Mr. Holland was right. If they quit teaching anything other than reading and writing, pretty soon the students won't have anything left to read or write about.
  • by john_anderson_ii (786633) on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:54PM (#11532060)
    I think it comes down to public school atmosphere and neglected parenting.

    Parenting is a full time job for both parents, and reinforcing things taught in school is one faucet of that job. Many parents, my friends included, think their kids education and well-roundedness will be the result of attending classes in school. They couldn't be more wrong. A U.S. History or U.S. Government teacher has one hour a day in which to cram a 3 hour course-required schedule to 30 students in a crammed classroom. At least that's the way it is in Arizona, one of the worst states for public schooling.

    As far as the kids are concerned going to school is something that takes place when they aren't living their lives. I mean, learning is something they do in bits and spurts during a 1 hour course, and it can be thrown out the window during the after school trip to the mall with their friends.

    It's really up to the parents to get involved and reinforce the ideas and priciples taught by the public school system. Only by making the student think and ponder the concept of Freedom of Speech will that concept become meaningful to the student, and they can then develop their own opinions about it. Making the student truly ponder it can be a simple dinner table discussion between the student and his or her parents and family.

    Unfortunately I know too many parents who send their kids off to school so the parents can do their own thing, then send the kids off to play when the kids get home so the parents can continue to do their own thing. I wish more parents would take the education of their children farther than punishing or rewarding the kids based on the merits of their report cards.
  • RTFA (Score:5, Funny)

    by de1orean (851146) <ian@delore3.1415926anrock.org minus pi> on Monday January 31, 2005 @04:54PM (#11532063)
    hmmm. maybe now "RTFA" can mean "read the first amendment"?

    despite its inherent lack of profanity, i like it.
  • by M_Cheevy (629827) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:06PM (#11532255)

    How many US citizens, let alone students, know about the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights? A document which seems to be acknowledged and recognised in almost every member country BUT the USA?

    I've had a long time interest in civil rights and constitutional law but never heard of this document until I became an exile and moved from the US to New Zealand. If you read the document [hrweb.org] you can see it's actually BETTER for the citizens than the US Bill of Rights. No wonder they don't teach about it in schools!

    "We must remember that a right lost to one is lost to all." - William Reece Smith, Jr.
    Freedom unexercised may become freedom forfeited. - Margaret Chase Smith
    (example of this, now when you ask for a lawyer to protect yourself from sloppy/lazy police work, you're assumed guilty).
  • by Onimaru (773331) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:07PM (#11532264)

    This really isn't all that surprising or even alarming to me. The Constitution isn't most holy writ, it's just a law. If you want people to know the law, you have to teach it to them. I firmly believe that basic con law and contracts should be taught in grade school, or at least in college (when people have attained majority and it starts to matter more). Yes the law is difficult and esoteric, but there's some amount of it we all need.

    If someone refused to learn CPR because they weren't studying to be a doctor, we'd consider them to be lazy and a little hazardous to their peers. I think the law falls into the same camp. Certainly you're way more likely to sign a contract in a given day than you are to have a heart attack.

  • The system (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deian (736923) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:58PM (#11533102) Homepage Journal
    The whole school system is fucked up.
    Everything is being taught in order to pass a test...in the end the whole class ends up learning absolutely nothing.

    Teacher's dont tech kids to think more open mindedly, and the students who are free thinkers are usually put down.
    example:
    1.My friend wrote a brilliant paper on socialism - analyzing different positive effects on society, economy... Another kid in the class wrote a complete bullshit paper on democracy - just kissing ass on how America is so great and how democracy works for all. My friend ended up getting a lower grade, just because the teacher did not agree witht the paper. Because teachers are so biased, many students are reluctant to actually write what they think and usually just end up just kissing ass for a good grade.
    2.In class my friend and I usually end up fighting against the rest of the class on topics of discussions, such as weather or not people of different cultural backgrounds (i.e Muslims) should be "watched by Big Brother". The scary thing is that most of my classmates think that its ok for the government to control the media and limit the rights of citizens (and especially those of specific cultural backgrounds). [I'm not 'Middle Eastern', in case you think that I'm defending muslims for personal reasons. I believe in freedom - especially to express yourself. Excuse the horryfic grammar, I'm also an immigrant :)]
    Side note: I'm really tired of the bullshit saying: "If you dont like America get out of the country". Many older people have said that to me, and I think that it is a very ignorant thing to say - it's a bullshit counter to the flaws I usually bring up. There are many flaws in the American system, just like any other system, and it is those who rebel - fight for our rights - that, I believe, will reform this country to a better place.
  • by jtshaw (398319) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @12:37AM (#11537057) Homepage
    I get the impression that our government is simply trying to have us limit our own freedoms because of fear.

    They want us to be afraid of everything these days. Things like "homeland security" and there idiotic "terrorist threat level" are examples of this. What is your average joe suppose to do? Board themselves up in there house and hide in the basement everytime the stupid color scale hits red? This is America, we are suppose to laugh in the face of terrorist and there attempts to make us fear, not run and hide.

    The worst part about it is that it seams to be working. Lots of people do seam to be afraid of things... and not just terrorism.

    News flash... Seeing a bare ass on TV isn't going to make your child a sex offender. Hearing an expletive won't turn a kid into a degenerate loser.

    Education is, and always has been, the best method for making sure kids keep on the right track. I think it is a parents responsibility to make sure there children aren't scared to ask them questions about anything and everything. If your kid sees a word written somewhere (like the inside of a bathroom stall or the back of the seat on a bus) he/she should know they can always ask there parents and get a straight, correct, answer without any chance of getting in trouble. We should teach our kids about sex. We should tell them about "alternative" lifestyles they might be exposed to.

    Anyway... I know when I was 13 my friends and I had already gotten our hands on numerous dirty magazines and other things of that nature and all of us managed to grow up, go to college, and live a decent life.

    If you want censorship then get the hell out of this country, there are plenty of places you can go live if you want others making all your decisions for you. You don't deserve to live here if you believe in limiting others freedoms.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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