Students Blocked From Publishing School Paper, Given 2 Hours To Write New Stories Or Fail

from the what-we-teach-our-kids dept

It's great what we teach our kids these days. Some students at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, put together their student paper, but the administration apparently freaked out because there were articles about drinking, smoking and teen pregnancy (you know, stuff that's actually relevant to students). So they blocked the publication of the paper and gave the students two hours to write new stories or receive failing grades (found via Poynter). Nice of them, right? The administration claims they just delayed the paper "to provide more time for editing and layout," though that's quite a different story than what the students are saying. We keep seeing stories like this, and at some point you have to wonder why more student publications don't just set up shop online, totally outside of the school district, and just publish what they want?


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:39pm

    Because, as you have even commented on in the past, the school districts now feel that it is their right to police students' behavior on the internet as well. And some courts have agreed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:56pm

    Mike, there is so much missing in this story, I am shocked you ran it, exccept maybe to get a little moral outrage going. Since you don't know the subject of their original stories (could have been great places to score weed and smoke it in school), it's hard to comment on the school's actions.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:03pm

    When I was in High School some students from my school published some articles on a county wide news paper, the articles were something about how common sex or something like that is among high school students and the administration freaked out shutting down the school's news paper when it was never published in that paper.

     

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    Commoner (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:05pm

    I guess you mean: at some point you have to wonder why more student publications don't just set up shop online

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:24pm

    Re:

    Oops. Fixed.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:25pm

    Re:

    Since you don't know the subject of their original stories (could have been great places to score weed and smoke it in school), it's hard to comment on the school's actions.

    Hmm? Even if it were that, the school shouldn't have a say in what the students publish. And, demanding the rewrite in two hours or failure? You seem to have totally ignored that part.

     

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 8:02pm

    usually mike i agree with most of what you say and rarely i disagree with it to a point where i feel the need to say anything...

    but c'mon & get serious here... are you seriously suggesting that schools running a school funded newspaper should not have any say in what the students publish?
    that is shortsighted and such a lack of oversight is BEGGING for problems in todays over-litigious helecopter-parent times.
    id rather they just flat not have a school paper than one with no oversight.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 8:16pm

    Credit

    We keep seeing stories like this, and at some point you have to wonder why more student publications don't just set up shop online, totally outside of the school district, and just publish what they want?

    Because they wouldn't get credit for it. High school newspapers are usually done as part of a journalism class and, like most classes, there are requirements that must be met in order to earn credits. Apparently the students in this case missed those requirements.

     

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    monkyyy (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 8:34pm

    Re: Credit

    but shouldn't doing something that dosnt fit some assignment but to what the "should" be about

    i dont see why school newspaper should be censored if the point is to give student stuff that actuly consirns them
    that is the point of the school newspaper right? i wouldn't know my school newspaper was mainly written form 3 generasoins ago point of view

     

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    azuravian (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 8:41pm

    Re:

    Interesting. I'd rather they not have a school paper than one in which the First Amendment rights of students are violated. Were this a private school or even a professional news company, then the owners/publishers would be able to publish what they like without violating anyone's rights. However, this is a public school, and therefor a government run institution. When they say that students cannot publish an article as is, they are engaging in government funded censorship.

     

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    Harmonious Pandemonium, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 8:59pm

    Government funded censorship? Very well put! The Anonymous Cowards (emphasis on Cowards) are always in such a rush to be the first commenter to attack Mike that they always fail to notice the bigger picture and what it's ramifications are for the future. Makes me laugh every time.

     

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    MarksAngel (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 9:01pm

    Why not block what students have to say, I mean after all they are only kids and their opinions don't matter at all. I mean we spent a good portion of their youth telling them that their opinions on various subjects don't matter, then magically one day when they graduate they are expected to have a feeling and voice opinions, and even vote..talk about mixed signals.

     

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    MarksAngel (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 9:03pm

    just fyi, that was total sarcasm on my part....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re:

    When they say that students cannot publish an article as is, they are engaging in government funded censorship.

    Which is allowed on school campuses.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 9:26pm

    Schools have the RIGHT to control what is published in a SCHOOL sponsored newspaper. Another important factor is whether or not it disrupted the learning environment. Here is a link that explains the law in better detail: http://www.firstamendmentschools.org/freedoms/faq.aspx?id=12991

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 9:28pm

    Re: Re:

    That is not entirely correct. Check out this site: http://www.firstamendmentschools.org/freedoms/faq.aspx?id=12991

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    Student don't set up shop outside because they're too lazy and don't care enough to take the time to do anything without management by an advisor 90% of the time.

    Of course even if they wanted to be a little less lazy, administration probably feels fine granting punishments for stuff on a student's 'personal' blog as much as they do for a normal blog.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    How is it not correct? Explain how this is NOT government-funded censorship.

     

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    got a deal for these kids, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 9:55pm

    HEY want to write it and ill publish it

    "i'll add ya to my web server and the deal is 5% of any add money ya make toss back my way."

    SEE some people aren't greedy and this idea you can steal anyone and offer these kids this.

    sad to think the real issues scare the faculty of the school.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 10:41pm

    Re:

    A friend from work just told me when he was in school, he published a paper online with some criticism, the school freaked out, investigated who wrote the paper, interrogated him and finally expelled him.

     

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    net625, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 11:10pm

    I had a newspaper once...

    At my old school we started a newspaper. Once we got one together it took the administration about a week to figure out if it was good to publish it. And we asked if we could set up a web site one our own and the response was if its not going to be regulated by us or the district then you can't promote it on campus and you can't really mention the school on it ether. It was then laughable how the administration would then wonder why the paper was never published on time... This is at a school that was called BSHS for the first two years of its existence.

     

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    Dave, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 12:04am

    Unfortunately, if those students are seen to be representing the school in anyway, shape or form, the school usually suspends them and sends a nasty cease and desist letter to their parents. Sure it ain't gonna hold up in court but it has happened atleast 4 times in the last month in Ohio. Used to be you had schools going crazy when a kid was caught at a concert and feeling like they should due out punishment for something they don't even have power over, now they try to censor the kids whether it's on their in school publication or online on a private server.

     

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    JezuitX, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 1:00am

    Something doesn't add up about this.

    Okay I know when I wrote for our school paper they didn't just let you write about anything, come together one day, and then throw it together. The story that each "reporter" was assigned was discussed in the class. Then, the assignment to write said story began.

    Let's be fair high school papers aren't the kind we see on TV where the overzealous student reporter challenges school authority. It's basically a glorified writing journalism class where you cover what the teachers tell you to cover. To me this sounds like a handful of kids got together, decided they didn't like the stories they were assigned, and decided to rock the boat. Then, when the stories weren't what they were assigned their little dreams of being Leonard and Bernstein were crushed.

     

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    Chris in Utah (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 1:08am

    Been squelched myself

    Shortly after I dropped out because of boredom I wrote an article a little biography of my experience in high school.

    I read to the effect kids are bored and its small wonder 1/3 don't finish. My original high school kicked me out the day before a trip to D.C. because of my truancy. Luckily my dad pointed out I could go to what here is called Applied Technology Center. Took there prep test for the GED test and I received an actual diploma & my GED. Got my Associates Degree in little less than 2 hours.

    The bullet point in this article of mine was why have we changed our education system from a Master slash Apprentice system of JUST 150 years ago. When at 12 you know what field your going to be in and study what you need from there.

    I printed 100 copies and wanted to leave it on my original H.S. Front Desk for students to pick up. I was told no, just flat out no.

    Guess options are a bad thing in public schools.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 3:22am

    Nothing's changed. I remember when an issue of my high school's newspaper was censored for similar reasons due to an article on suicide and suicide prevention. A student and then friend of mine had attempted suicide which prompted the article, and we were told we could not go to print. Our teacher went to bat for us but was told under no certain terms that it would not be allowed.

    So what happens in the real world? You think newspapers aren't censored and twisted? People learn young, that's all I'm saying. Nothing changes after high school except that those brats you went to class with are now driving SUVs and attending PTA meetings. Just sayin'.

     

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    DS, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 3:44am

    Re: Re:

    I think you are confusing a high school "newspaper" with an actual journalistic endevor. Do you consider the yearbook club members all bestselling authors due to the percentage of the population (students) that buys their book?

    Face it, it's something done to give kids something to do, and to help give them a sense of pride and ownership over their school.

     

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    DS, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 3:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Because they are being prevented from publishing the story that was deemed disruptive using the school's resources.

    Nobody's sending men in dark suits to their home to make sure they keep their trap shut.

    It's as much 'censorship' as a school dress code, the inability of someone to start yelling in a court trial, etc.

     

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    Rum Doodle, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 4:16am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, if the paper is a forum or learning vehicle, then the school does have a say and rightly so. Reference the Kuhlmeier Supreme Court case.

    More information is needed on the particulars before such judgment can be passed on this particular case. But the two-hour re-write or fail bit does seem way off kilter.

     

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    Michael, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 4:24am

    Seems like a poor lesson

    Lots of arguments here that school papers are a class and the school should have control over the content. That seems like a pretty poor lesson. Even if it is the case that the government or big corporations have control over newspaper content, journalism students should be taught that this should not be the case. Teach them about the problems in the real world, but don't show them that these problems are ok.

     

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    bobwyzguy (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 5:15am

    Same Old Crap

    When I was in HS in the 70's the administration pulled this crap. I put out an underground newspaper using memograph technology (anyone?) for three issues before being suspended.
    The Internet does make it totally simple to put out the original stories.

     

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    bobwyzguy (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 5:22am

    First Amendment Anyone

    And - in case someone wants to take the moral high ground, there used to be something called the First Amendment. I understand that recent case law has pretty much entirely neutered this right, but in a truly free society, there has to be room for dangerous or unpopular behavior too. It applies to everyone including children, as a fundamental human right. We have, as a citizenry, prety much given this away in a poor exchange for safety. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said that those who would trade liberty for security would soon have neither. Welcome to neither, which is what we currently "enjoy."

     

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    Eric Londaits (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 6:25am

    Defamation?

    I wouldn't be surprised if their articles stepped over the defamation line putting the school at a risk of being targeted by lawsuits, and more importantly invading the privacy and potentially ruining things for fellow students.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 7:00am

    Duh.

    "We keep seeing stories like this, and at some point you have to wonder why more student publications don't just set up shop online, totally outside of the school district, and just publish what they want?"

    Because then you can't use your involvement in the school paper for a grade. Counts just like any other elective.

     

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    hegemon13, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 7:38am

    Online isn't safe, either

    "...and at some point you have to wonder why more student publications don't just set up shop online, totally outside of the school district, and just publish what they want?"

    I don't think that would do them any good. Look at the number of times you have run stories about schools disciplining students for things they have said online, outside of school hours and reasonable school jurisdiction. It has really come down to this: if you are a student, you have no free speech rights, whether you are in school or not.

    Second, though, this paper is clearly for a grade. Setting up shop online would make sense for an extracurricular school paper, but not for a class. They still have to turn in work for the class, which puts it back within the school's control/jurisdiction.

     

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    hegemon13, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 7:51am

    Re: Been squelched myself

    Actually, the rambling, disorganized content, lack of an actual argument, and atrocious grammar of your post only go to show why education is valuable.

    Why don't we use an apprenticeship system? First, very few 12-year-olds are ready to make a decision about their life's career. Second, fewer and fewer jobs work well as an apprenticeship. Third, an apprenticeship provides a very narrow education that does not introduce an individual to other interests and opportunities, and it leaves a person unprepared to deal with tidal changes in their industry. Fourth, the value of a broad education has been widely recognized and accepted. Just because you are a electrician, for example, does not mean that you should not be able to communicate, and those who can communicate well will be more successful as electricians.

    Finally, of course you were told "no." You were no longer a student of the school, and you were demanding to place the article on the front desk, which would imply that the article had school approval. If it was written anything like your post, the school would not want to be associated with it. They are also not going to distribute something deliberately that sows dissidence into their student population. There are tons of places you can publish the article if you want it read. Put it online, submit it as a letter-to-the-editor, or staple it to light posts, but don't expect a school to allow a non-student to demand distribution of a poorly-written, controversial article.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 8:28am

    A school newspaper is an extension of the school, not it's students. The faculty who preside over the paper could be held accountable if the paper printed anything considered obscene or libelous. And the students are only there to get credit, not out of journalistic integrity.

    A school newspaper refusing to publish content really is no different than the editor of a local paper refusing to publish articles written by his staff because they are poorly written or do not conform to the paper's views or those of it's readers.

    When I was in college our newspaper was shut down over the issue of a cartoon that was racist and obscene (and poorly drawn) that was published and nearly caused a race riot on campus. The staff tried to hide behind the first amendment and quit in protest when they were ordered not to publish it any longer. Nobody cared except Domino's Pizza because all anybody got the paper for was pizza coupons and movie schedules.

     

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    Tyanna, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 8:43am

    Re:

    I think (and hope) that the point that Mike is trying to make is that the student's should have been either been given more time to produce new content, or have been better guided in the first place so that the administration wouldn't have had to reject the content and threaten to fail them.

    What I don't agree with is that they should just go to an online format. First off, the student news paper is for credit so the school would STILL have say in what's valid for that credit. Second, there are so many articles on this site about how schools are policing student's online life, even going so far as to punish students for things they did on their summer holidays!

    Going online wouldn't solve this problem....and might actually make it worse.

     

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    Derek Reed (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hear hear, I agree, the administration should absolutely censor and shut down the students for talking about reality. And if there's a court precedent for them doing so, double bonus. Give them a taste of how the real world works with mainstream press/media and such. One can only hope this encourages them to take a different path, perhaps some form of what was suggested "set up shop online" or returning fire some other way.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Legality

    > Going online wouldn't solve this problem....and might actually make
    > it worse.

    Actually, it wouldn't because when the school tries to shut down an online, off-campus web site merely because it doesn't like the content of the speech presented on that site, it would be committing a bright-line violation of the 1st Amendment and the resulting lawsuit would set firm legal precedent (as if it's not already there) that public schools do not have the legal authority to do such things.

    Frankly, I've always wondered why schools even bother, since it would be easy to work around their restrictions even if the courts *did* give them the legal latitude they desire.

    For example, if I'm a student at Oppressive High School and I put up a website with articles criticizing the school and they tell me I have to take it down, how easy would it be to find someone else (a sibling for example, or a friend) who *doesn't* go to that school (and who is therefore not subject to the school's authority) to put the site back up under their name instead of mine?

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 9:55am

    Re: Abuse

    > nother important factor is whether or not it disrupted the
    > learning environment.

    The problem with that standard is that most school personnel these days define "disrupting the learning environment" as "anything I don't like".

     

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    Derek Reed (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Re: Online isn't safe, either

    Of course we've seen plenty of cases of schools / school districts censoring students outside of the classroom, so that means they shouldn't even bother trying to speak their minds? Sorry kids, you don't have free speech any more because you're in school, give up and shut up until you graduate.

    I have, on occasion, seen a high school student or two do something not just for a grade, but for fun or to make a point. It's rare, but it does happen.

     

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    Derek Reed (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    Just like an editor of a newspaper has the right to tell a writer to change his story or not publish it. Does that mean there's nothing to worry about?

    This fear of disrupting the learning environment is often taken too far. This may or may not be one of those cases, but to simply dismiss it as "They have a legal right to do so, it's totally ok" is as silly as applying that same logic to anything else discussed here.

    Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's smart or beneficial to any of the parties involved.

     

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    Derek Reed (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    And you don't see a problem with that situation either? "The staff tried to hide behind the first amendment". Why are racist (or anti-islamic for that matter) cartoons and high schoolers talking about sex and drugs not considered speech worth fighting for and protecting? Are they really over that line of clear and present danger?

    Yes, these organizations have a right to shut down their papers, but No, I'm not going to sit by and praise their censorship because they have a right to do so. Does anyone else care about free speech?

     

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    Chris in Utah (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Re: Been squelched myself

    It was relevant to this article.

    Psst. A 12 year old still knows how to make a choice... if he or she was given it. Or did you conveniently leave that out of your thought process before you posted. Rhetorical of course.

    Just because it's "widely" accepted doesn't mean it works as well. The system worked for 19 centuries I wonder why.

    Oh and btw the rambling disorganized content of which you speak was to brief the article without actually posting it.

    And btw, the article was meant to open minds... who's are the freshest to the article it self.. Oh yeah a target audience.

    Think before you speak.

     

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    Chris in Utah (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 3:11pm

    Re:

    Dear AC... Im actually grinning after reading this post thinking of Eric Cartman's "RESPECT MY AUTHORITY". I think one of our previous posters said it best.

    Benjamin Franklin - "When we give up liberty for security we soon not have neither"

     

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    Chris in Utah (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re:

    oh.. lol bit ironic catching this...
    ...we soon have neither."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 3:25pm

    Re:

    Makes me laugh every time.

    What's even funnier is someone posting anonymously criticizing others for doing the same. What a hypocrite.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 6:04pm

    Re: Re:

    I think (and hope) that the point that Mike is trying to make is that the student's should have been either been given more time to produce new content, or have been better guided in the first place so that the administration wouldn't have had to reject the content and threaten to fail them.

    I haven't seen anything to indicate that they weren't given guidelines. But they were at least given a couple of hours to re-do their assignment. I know when I was in in school I only got one chance to do my assignments. Once I turned something in, that was it. If it was unacceptable, then I got the corresponding grade. So it seems to me that the school is being lenient in letting them re-do it at all.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Dec 4th, 2009 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    > I know when I was in in school I only got one
    > chance to do my assignments. Once I turned
    > something in, that was it.

    On the other hand, math and physics and history assignments generally aren't subject to the politically-correct whims of the teacher.

     

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    hegemon13, Dec 10th, 2009 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Been squelched myself

    "Psst. A 12 year old still knows how to make a choice... if he or she was given it. Or did you conveniently leave that out of your thought process before you posted. Rhetorical of course."

    Um, look up the definition of "rhetorical question." That wasn't one. Start with learning what a question mark is. It looks like this: ?

    Yes, I understand the a 12-year-old can make a choice. I did not say they could not make one. I said that they are generally not PREPARED to make that choice at that stage in their lives.

    "Just because it's "widely" accepted doesn't mean it works as well."

    No, but it's a pretty good indication.

    "The system worked for 19 centuries I wonder why."

    Did it, really? Were people happy about being forced into a particular career because they had no other options? You're pissed about being "forced" into school for a few years. What if you were forced into a career you hated for a lifetime? Just because you think something worked in the past does not mean it worked better. Should we go back to arranged marriages, too? How about traditional male/female family and career roles? Or, how about re-establishing slavery? After all, all those things "worked" in the past.

    "Oh and btw the rambling disorganized content of which you speak was to brief the article without actually posting it."

    Then you need to learn summary techniques. Your post was just a mess.

    "And btw, the article was meant to open minds... who's are the freshest to the article it self.. Oh yeah a target audience."

    This explains why YOU wanted the article distributed. That does not change the fact that the school has a right to say no, and that it is complete unsurprising that they did. Just because you WANTED to distribute the article there does not mean you have a RIGHT to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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