Preparing for Committee Hearings – A 12-Step Program

The Committee Hearing stage is a critical point in the legislative process. We have had identical bills (A4028 and S2506) introduced in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate for a few months now and have been working to prepare for our hearings in the Education Committee in both houses where they each were referred.

I was very concerned this fall when I learned about how little advanced notice we might get before our hearings. It’s possible that in three days, we would need to mobilize everyone we hope will testify and make arrangements to be at the State House ourselves. When we attended the symposium at Kent State (State Legislation Protecting Student Press Freedom: New Voices on the Move) on November 18, I learned this wasn’t all that uncommon. I also learned about how to best prepare for these hearings, so when notification of a hearing date comes, we can be as ready as possible.

Based on that, we came up with these 12 Steps to Prepare for Our Hearing:

  1. Reach out to George White of the New Jersey Press Association and see if they have a lobbyist like Rebecca Snyder of the MDDCPA, or if they can support us in other ways.
  2. Reach out to every college publication and the New Jersey Collegiate Press Association. There is also a CMA Listserv we might try to get someone to post a message to that may be effective in connecting with New Jersey college journalists.
  3. Continue to reach out to civic education groups to build our coalition and build on momentum for a focus on civic education and media literacy in schools
  4. Check in with our sponsors and let them know what we are planning.
  5. Get students and advisers to contact their legislators especially ones on the education committee
  6. Reach out to opposition groups – NJ School Board Association, and New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, and New Jersey Association of School Administrators. Use any contacts we have in this organizations.
  7. Mobilize advisers and students and see if they can reach out to parent organizations
  8. Make a plan for who we want to testify at committee hearings, reach out to them, and ask for short written testimony we can read if they can’t make it. Can we get stories of censorship from Bill Gurden, John Woodnik, Adelina or Kylie? Reach out to all advisers and students through FB groups to ask for censorship or intimidation/retaliation stories?
  9. Once advisers and students from the districts of ed committee members have contacted their legislators, check in with the legislator’s offices to see if we have their support.
  10. When we know we have enough support, get bill scheduled for an education committee hearing by reaching out to chairs and members of the committee. Get sponsors to request that it be scheduled.
  11. Reach out to leaders of senate and assembly to get their support.
  12. Contact the Chiefs of Staff of all of our sponsors and find out how we can get as much notice of the hearing as possible.

 

Developing your core

While your state’s scholastic press association is a good place to start, there are other resources for developing the core group that will work to pass legislation. 

  1. Start with your school – Reach out to colleagues and even administrators if you think they might be receptive. Make it clear that this isn’t just a student journalism issue, but one that involves civic education, student voice and rights. Social studies teachers should be interested in this. One of my colleagues and friends, Darrell DeTample, is a Political Science AP Government teacher. He has students work on projects involving local and state politics. We found our first sponsor when Assemblywoman Donna Simon visited his class and was asked if she would support legislation to protect student journalists. Later, Darrell had his students review the bill when it was in the draft stage, and make suggestions for changes. Darrell has been a vital and active member of our core group. His knowledge of state politics and politicians and connections with civic education leaders has been invaluable.
  2. Reach out to college newspapers and collegiate press associations – Find out which public colleges and universities have student newspapers and contact the editors. New Voices legislation protects public institutions of high learning as well as high school students. Highlight issues with the college press in your state or on a national level and encourage student editors to provide whatever level of support they can. In fact, recent developments on college campuses led to the College Media Association, American Associations of University Professors, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the Student Press Law Center to issue a report, “Threats to the Independence of Student Media” that describes the current landscape and the need for New Voices legislation. In addition to the organizations involved in this report, many states also have state Collegiate Press Associations and the Associated Collegiate Press may also be a resource that can be used to develop a core group of supporters.
  3. Contact professional journalism associations – The Society of Professional Journalists has endorsed New Voices legislation on the national level and has been involved in supporting it through their New Jersey chapter. New Jersey also has a professional press association that has offered support.
  4. Education associations – The largest teacher association in New Jersey is the NJEA. State associations can be powerful and have a lot of resources, but they also are involved in a lot of other issues (at least in New Jersey). Still, it is important to reach out to them. Trying to find someone to talk to through their website was frustrating at first, so I tried going through my local and county association representatives. Eventually, we were put in touch with Beth Schroeder Buonsante , the Associate Director for Government Relations, who was helpful in providing advice on choosing sponsors and navigating the legislative process. She set up a meeting for us with the Working Conditions Committee, and we got a favorable response. While Beth is not a part of our core group, she has been a valuable resource and contact to a powerful organization in our state. Other education groups include the National Council of Teachers of English who have endorsed the legislation, and the National Council of Social Studies – both organizations have state chapters. The American Political Science Association might also offer support, and they have a page that lists links to other civic education organizations.
  5. Civil Rights Organizations – Local chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union can offer support. Sometimes the ACLU is not looked at favorably by conservative legislators, but you at least want to contact all of your potential allies to make them aware of potential legislation, and you may find someone who has the passion and experience to become part of your core group. Other organizations that support civil rights include the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (which focuses on higher education) and of course, the Student Press Law Center which is a primary sponsor of New Voices legislation. Frank LoMonte is a valuable resource to contact for anyone beginning this journey.

While it is important to reach out to many of these organizations for support, JEA recommends that “it is best to keep the group relatively small and of a like mind as to the goal of the legislation.” Certainly, that has been true in my experience. Our core group consists of myself, John Tagliareni, and Darrell DeTample. As the legislation has progressed, we have reached out to other groups and continue to do so as we head into education committee hearings.

Start with your state’s scholastic press association

One of your best resources for developing a network of support is your state’s scholastic press association. Contact them, find out where and when they hold board meetings and attend one (if at all possible) to discuss the need for New Voices legislation in your state.

As I mentioned on the home page, this is where everything started for me. Even before North Dakota passed its bill sparking New Voices movement, I brought up the topic at a Garden State Scholastic Press Association board meeting. It had been a difficult couple of years for student journalists and their advisers in New Jersey. In 2013, I resigned as adviser of the school newspaper after a new administration insisted on more editorial control, and then in 2014 an adviser in South Jersey was removed from his position for supporting his students’ right to fight censorship, and an adviser in another part of the state was pressured to resign after his students fought censorship. So the need for legislation was apparent in the summer of 2014 and for me it was personal.

It had been a difficult couple of years for student journalists and their advisers in New Jersey. I resigned my position after a new administration insisted on more editorial control, an adviser in South Jersey was removed from his position for supporting his students’ right to fight censorship, and an adviser in another part of the state was pressured to resign after his students fought censorship. So the need was apparent in the summer of 2014, and for me it was personal.

And while the board was certainly receptive and supportive to the idea of state legislation, there was one board member who knew what it would take and was willing to go much further. I was fortunate enough that the Executive Board of the GSSPA had a member who had tried to enact scholastic press rights legislation in the wake of Hazelwood decision – and came very close to succeeding. And now, some 25 years later, he was ready to try again.

While John Tagliareni was retired from teaching and advising, he was still very active in the GSSPA and the JEA serving as a member of the Scholastic Press Rights Committee. With him as a partner, the desire for legislation now had direction, focus, experience, and purpose. Admittedly, I was very lucky, but even if you don’t find someone with the qualification and characteristics of a John Tagliareni, your state’s scholastic press association can be a valuable resource to find

Admittedly, I was very lucky, but even if you don’t find someone with the qualification and characteristics of a John Tagliareni, your state’s scholastic press association can be a valuable resource to find a network of support and hopefully someone you can count as a member of your “core group” which JEA lists as step one in their “Promoting Scholastic Press Rights Legislation: A Blueprint for Success.

Certainly, state scholastic press rights associations are a great place to start to develop this core group, but they are by no means are they the only resources. Click here for other ideas.

 

Maintaining student engagement

Keeping students engaged and motivated in working to support New Voices legislation can be difficult.

One way to approach this is by reaching out to advisers to encourage participation from their students. Bill Rawson, the adviser of The Smoke Signal at Passaic Valley High School, encouraged his students to do a story on our efforts to pass New Voices legislation. Their article “Pushing Back Against Censorship” featured interviews with Adelina Colaku who fought censorship at Northern Highlands and Kaitlyn Boyle the vice-president of the GSSPA’s Student Chapter.

As difficult as it can be to motivate and engage students that you see every day, the task becomes much more difficult when the primary means of communication is online as with the GSSPA’s Student Chapter. While one or two of the leaders of the group would occasionally attend a board meeting, the primary means of communication was by phone, e-mail, or social media.

It has been essential in these situations to have a couple of projects or tasks that student leaders can focus the energy of the group on. For the Student Chapter, those projects have been sessions they will lead at our Fall Conference and demonstrating support for the legislation as a requirement for running for leadership positions. To apply as an officer, students needed to create a post in the Facebook group explaining what they would bring to the group. They also were required to demonstrate how they were supporting or raising awareness of student free-press legislation (through pieces in their school newspaper or through letters to the editor).

In this first year, two leaders emerged who would run online chats, come to some board meetings and plan Student Chapter sessions for our next fall conference. Lilia Wood, a senior at Glen Rock High School, was the group’s first president and Malaika Jawed, a junior at South Brunswick High School, was the first vice-president. Their leadership was instrumental in the success of the student chapter. They conducted monthly online chats and were able to organize members, largely through the Facebook group, to contribute to a video on censorship. They presented this video during the first student-run session at the GSSPA’s fall conference.

These projects have led to the creation of two videos. One on censorship for the 2015 conference, and the other an interview of Frank LoMonte for our 2016 conference created by one of the 2016 presidents, Ashley Cooper.

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My First Video Album

  • Student Chapter - Censorship 2015
    Student Chapter - Censorship 2015

Getting Started

This website is not the first attempt at providing a blueprint for passing scholastic press rights legislation. 

In 1996 Bruce L. Plopper conducted a study of the 28 attempts that had been made to that point.  In “A synthesis model for passing state student press legislation,” Plopper made four major recommendations:

  • Gain widespread support from a variety of journalism and education organizations
  • Choose a sponsor with certain characteristics  – an experienced Democrat with background in teaching and media
  • Arrange testimony from a variety of sources to demonstrate support and lack of opposition,
  • Develop a network of proponents who will call and write to legislators throughout the state at critical junctures

In February of 2016, the Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee published “Promoting Scholastic Press Rights Legislation: A Blueprint for Success.” It describes the process in eight steps: develop a core group, find a sponsor, draft bill language, build a coalition, find legislative allies, introduce the bill, contact legislators, and attend the committee hearing.

The publication also contains talking points, sample legislation, and a sample news release.  In the conclusion, the JEASPRC admits that the publication is just an introduction. “Much more can be said, and other states may have vastly different experiences.” It is the goal of this website to provide our experiences in New Jersey.

Finally, New Voices USA gathers news, resources, and helps document the efforts of every state that has or is attempting to pass legislation. This site will be linked to the New Jersey Campaign on New Voices USA and some of the material here may also be posted there.

Jumping on the civic education bandwagon

Since the presidential election, there have been numerous articles renewing the call for civic education and news literacy. Here are three articles that were published in the three-week period following the election: Earlier and more often: Washington teachers seek broad boost to civics education from The Seattle Times, Now or Never for Civic Education from U.S. News and World Report,  and Is Trump’s Victory the Jump-Start Civics Education Needed? from The Atlantic.

New Voices legislation can, and should, build on the momentum building for changes in education that promote students to develop civic responsibility, ethics, and the ability to evaluate news sources. There are few better outlets for this than student media outlets and classrooms.

Consider the following quotes from the news sources linked above:

“Knowing the three branches of government and how many stripes are on the flag doesn’t teach you how to be a citizen, how to participate and be a critical consumer of the news,” said Anthony Jonas, a social studies teacher in Bellevue who co-chairs the Washington State Council for the Social Studies. “I’d like to see kids evaluating politicians and what they’re doing, and applying knowledge — not just memorizing facts from 240 years ago. This feeling has been bubbling for a while, but the election really pushed people to see that education can’t just be all about STEM.” (Rowe, Seattle Times).

“Public schools are failing at what the nation’s founders saw as education’s most basic purpose: preparing young people to be reflective citizens who would value liberty and democracy and resist the appeals of demagogues. In that sense, the Trump phenomenon should be a Sputnik moment for civics education. Just as Soviet technological advances triggered investment in science education in the 1950s, the 2016 election should spur renewed emphasis on the need for schools to instill in children an appreciation for civic values and not just a skill set for private employment.” (Kahlenberg and Janey, The Atlantic)

Yet in recent years, democracy has been given short shrift in American public schooling in two important respects: the curriculum that is explicitly taught to students does not place democratic values at the center, and the “hidden” curriculum of what students observe on a daily basis no longer reinforces the importance of democracy. (Kahlenberg and Janey, The Atlantic)

In addition to these recent articles, Catherine Ross’ book Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights, also provides talking points for how student free expression is vital to the development of civic values.

“Teaching students how to experience differences of opinion and respond to controversy is part of education’s civilizing function. Worries about ‘controversies’ are nothing more than the ‘mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint” (102).

“In constitutional terms this experimentation is not only about free expression; it is a part of the quest for autonomy, for a meaningful life reflecting one’s own individual values” (288).

 

 

Play the news literacy card

Along with civic education, news literacy has become a topic that many parents, educators, and legislators are seeing as a skill young people are sorely lacking.

This came into sharper focus recently when Stanford University’s History Education Group published Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning which is a study that examines how well students, from middle school to college, are able to differentiate between fake and real news and information. And the results aren’t good: “Overall, young people’s ability to  reason about the information on the internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.” This study was also widely reported as a widening crisis in education including articles in the Wall Street JournalMashableand NPR.

Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center , advised at Kent State’s Symposium to think about what legislators care about things like civics education and becoming literate about the news or being able to discuss issues of importance during the school day.

“You don’t want the message to be that we are going to war with school administrators,” he said.

The results from this study can easily be used to craft a message about the value of scholastic journalism programs in teaching students to evaluate news stories by having them practice how journalists chose information and sources. Creating a law that protects the rights of student journalists to gather and report news that is of interest to school communities will draw more students to journalism programs and help create environments where students see how “real news” can be used to inform rather than deceive.

What should your bill include?

Even before you find a primary sponsor, it’s a good idea to put together an outline of what you would like to see in a bill.

In New Jersey we started by looking at the California Free Expression Law, and later, the North Dakota’s John Wall New Voices bill (SPLC also has model legislation that can be used).

I copy and pasted material from these bills into an outline in a Google Doc and then shared it with those who were interested in working on this. For us it was important that there was protection for teachers against administrative retribution and that districts were required to change their school sponsored publications policy.

After a round of comments and discussion at Garden State Scholastic Press Association meetings, we developed an outline that we were happy with and could share with potential sponsors. Once you find that sponsor, they will take your outline and have it drafted into a bill by a department of the legislature that will put it into the proper format. In New Jersey,  that department is called the Office of Legislative Services.

Here’s what our finished outline looked like. 

NJ FREE EXPRESSION LAW SEEKS TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF STUDENTS AND ADVISERS AT PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS

  1. A student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school – sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the institution or by use of facilities of the institution or produced in conjunction with a class in which the student is enrolled.
  2. A student journalist is responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school – sponsored media. This subsection may not be construed to prevent a student media adviser from teaching professional standards of English and journalism to student journalists.
  3. A school district may not authorize any prior restraint of any school – sponsored media except when the media:
  4. Is libelous or slanderous;
  5. Constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
  6. Violates federal or state law; or
  7. So incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

School officials shall have the burden of showing justification without undue delay prior to a limitation of pupil expression under this section.
4. A school district may not sanction a student operating as an independent journalist.

  1. Each school district shall adopt a written student freedom of expression policy in accordance with this section. The policy must include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of student expression. The policy may also include limitations to language that may be defined as profane, harassing, threatening, or intimidating.
  2. An employee shall not be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a pupil 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,

HOUSE BILL NO. 1471 (Representatives Looysen, Rick C. Becker, Haak, Mock) (Senators Grabinger, Luick) AN ACT to create and enact a new section to chapters 15-10 and 15.1-06 of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to freedom of expression rights of students of public institutions of higher education and public schools.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF NORTH DAKOTA: SECTION 1. A new section to chapter 15-10 of the North Dakota Century Code is created and enacted as follows: Student journalists – Freedom of expression – Civil remedy.

  1. As used in this section:
  2. “School – sponsored media” means any material that is prepared, substantially written, published, or broadcast by a student journalist at an institution under the supervision of the state board of higher education, distributed or generally made available to members of the student body, and prepared under the direction of a student media adviser. The term does not include any media intended for distribution or transmission solely in the classroom in which the media is produced.
  3. “Student journalist” means a student of an institution under the supervision of the state board of higher education who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs, records, or prepares information for dissemination in school – sponsored media.
  4. “Student media adviser” means an individual employed, appointed, or designated by an institution under the supervision of the state board of higher education to supervise or provide instruction relating to school – sponsored media.
  5. Except as provided in subsection 3, a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school – sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the institution or by use of facilities of the institution or produced in conjunction with a class in which the student is enrolled. Subject to subsection 3, a student journalist is responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school – sponsored media. This subsection may not be construed to prevent a student media adviser from teaching professional standards of English and journalism to student journalists.
  6. This section does not authorize or protect expression by a student that:
  7. Is libelous or slanderous;
  8. Constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
  9. Violates federal or state law; or
  10. So incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of institution or state board of higher education policies, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the institution.

SECTION 2. A new section to chapter 15.1-06 of the North Dakota Century Code is created and enacted as follows: Student journalists – Freedom of expression – Civil remedy.

  1. As used in this section:
  2. “School – sponsored media” means any material that is prepared, substantially written, published, or broadcast by a student journalist at a public school, distributed or generally made available to members of the student body, and prepared under the direction of a student media adviser. The term does not include any media intended for distribution or transmission solely in the classroom in which the media is produced.
  3. “Student journalist” means a public school student who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs, records, or prepares information for dissemination in school – sponsored media.
  4. “Student media adviser” means an individual employed, appointed, or designated by a school district to supervise or provide instruction relating to school – sponsored media.
  5. Except as provided in subsection 3, a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school – sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the school district, by use of facilities of the school district, or produced in conjunction with a class in which the student is enrolled. Subject to subsection 3, a student journalist is responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school – sponsored media. This subsection may not be construed to prevent a student media adviser from teaching professional standards of English and journalism to student journalists.
  6. This section does not authorize or protect expression by a student that:
  7. Is libelous or slanderous;
  8. Constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
  9. Violates federal or state law; or
  10. So incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of school district policy, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.
  11. A school district may not authorize any prior restraint of any school – sponsored media except when the media:
  12. Is libelous or slanderous;
  13. Constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
  14. Violates federal or state law; or
  15. So incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of school district policies, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.
  16. A school district may not sanction a student operating as an independent journalist.
  17. Each school district shall adopt a written student freedom of expression policy in accordance with this section. The policy must include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of student expression. The policy may also include limitations to language that may be defined as profane, harassing, threatening, or intimidating.

House Vote: Yeas 86 Nays 0 Absent 8 Senate Vote: Yeas 46 Nays 0 Absent 1

CALIFORNIA JOURNALISM TEACHER PROTECTION ACT

SB 1370, Yee. Education: freedom of speech and of the press.
  (1) Existing law grants to public school pupils the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press, as specified. Existing law also prohibits school districts operating one or more high
schools and private secondary schools from making or enforcing a rule that subjects a high school pupil to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that is protected by specified provisions of the United States Constitution and the California Constitution. A pupil enrolled in a school that has made or enforced a rule in violation of this prohibition is authorized to commence a civil action for injunctive and declaratory relief.
This bill would specify that the authority to commence a civil action applies to a pupil who is enrolled at the time the secondary educational institution made or enforced a rule in violation of the prohibition. The bill also would prohibit an employee from being dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a pupil engaged in conduct authorized by a specified provision of state law or refusing to infringe upon conduct that is protected pursuant to state law or those constitutional provisions.
  (2) Existing law prohibits the Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, and the governing board of a community college district from making or enforcing a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanction solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that is protected by specified provisions of the United States Constitution and the California Constitution. A student enrolled in an institution that has made or enforced a rule in violation of this prohibition is authorized to commence a civil action for injunctive and declaratory relief.

This bill would specify that the authority to commence a civil action applies to a student who is enrolled at the time the community college or university made or enforced a rule in violation of the prohibition. The bill also would prohibit an employee from being dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a student engaged in conduct authorized by a specified provision of state law or refusing to infringe upon conduct that is protected pursuant to state law or those constitutional provisions.
  (3) Existing law also prohibits a private postsecondary educational institution from making or enforcing a rule that subjects a student to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct
that is speech or other communication that is protected by specified provisions of the United States Constitution or the California Constitution and authorizes a student enrolled in an institution that has made or enforced a rule in violation of this prohibition to commence a civil action. This bill would specify that the authority to commence a civil action applies to a student who is enrolled at the time the institution made or enforced a rule in violation of the prohibition.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
 SECTION 1.  It is the intent of the Legislature that nothing in Section 48907 or 48950 of the Education Code shall be construed to diminish a district’s ability to take actions authorized by current law in order to maintain instruction that is consistent with the statewide academic standards defined in Article 2 (commencing with Section 60604) of Chapter 5 of Part 33 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code.

SEC. 2.  Section 48907 of the Education Code is amended to read:
  48907.  (a) Pupils of the public schools shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press including, but not limited to, the use of bulletin boards, the distribution of printed materials or petitions, the wearing of buttons, badges, and other insignia, and the right of expression in official publications, whether or not the publications or other means of expression are supported financially by the school or by use of school facilities, except that expression shall be prohibited which is obscene, libelous, or slanderous. Also prohibited shall be material that so incites pupils as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises or the violation of lawful school regulations, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.
  (b) Each governing board of a school district and each county board of education shall adopt rules and regulations in the form of a written publications code, which shall include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of conducting such activities within its respective jurisdiction.
  (c) Pupil editors of official school publications shall be responsible for assigning and editing the news, editorial, and feature content of their publications subject to the limitations of
this section. However, it shall be the responsibility of a journalism adviser or advisers of pupil publications within each school to supervise the production of the pupil staff, to maintain professional standards of English and journalism, and to maintain the provisions of this section.
  (d) There shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official school publications except insofar as it violates this section. School officials shall have the burden of showing justification without undue delay prior to a limitation of pupil expression under this section.
  (e) “Official school publications” refers to material produced by pupils in the journalism, newspaper, yearbook, or writing classes and distributed to the student body either free or for a fee.
  (f) This section does not prohibit or prevent the governing board of a school district from adopting otherwise valid rules and regulations relating to oral communication by pupils upon the premises of each school.
  (g) An employee shall not be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a pupil 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 Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.

SEC. 3.  Section 48950 of the Education Code is amended to read:
  48950.  (a) School districts operating one or more high schools and private secondary schools shall not make or enforce a rule subjecting a high school pupil to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside of the campus, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.
  (b) A pupil who is enrolled in a school at the time that the school has made or enforced a rule in violation of subdivision (a) may commence a civil action to obtain appropriate injunctive and declaratory relief as determined by the court. Upon motion, a court may award attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff in a civil action pursuant to this section.
  (c) This section does not apply to a private secondary school that is controlled by a religious organization, to the extent that the application of this section would not be consistent with the
religious tenets of the organization.
  (d) This section does not prohibit the imposition of discipline for harassment, threats, or intimidation, unless constitutionally protected.
  (e) This section does not supersede, or otherwise limit or modify, the provisions of Section 48907.
  (f) The Legislature finds and declares that free speech rights are subject to reasonable time, place, and manner regulations.
  (g) An employee shall not be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a pupil engaged in 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 Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.

SEC. 4.  Section 66301 of the Education Code is amended to read:
  66301.  (a) Neither the Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, the governing board of a community college district, nor an administrator of any campus of those institutions, shall make or enforce a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanction solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside a campus of those institutions, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.
  (b) A student enrolled in an institution, as specified in subdivision (a), at the time that the institution has made or enforced a rule in violation of subdivision (a) may commence a civil
action to obtain appropriate injunctive and declaratory relief as determined by the court. Upon a motion, a court may award attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff in a civil action pursuant to this
section.
  (c) This section does not authorize a prior restraint of student speech or the student press.
  (d) This section does not prohibit the imposition of discipline for harassment, threats, or intimidation, unless constitutionally protected.
  (e) This section does not prohibit an institution from adopting rules and regulations that are designed to prevent hate violence, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 4 of Chapter 1363 of the
Statutes of 1992, from being directed at students in a manner that denies them their full participation in the educational process, if the rules and regulations conform to standards established by the
First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution for citizens generally.
  (f) An employee shall not be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a student engaged in 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 Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.
 SEC. 5.  Section 94367 of the Education Code is amended to read:
  94367.  (a) No private postsecondary educational institution shall make or enforce a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside the campus or facility of a private postsecondary institution, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.
  (b) A student enrolled in a private postsecondary institution at the time that the institution has made or enforced any rule in violation of subdivision (a) may commence a civil action to obtain appropriate injunctive and declaratory relief as determined by the court. Upon motion, a court may award attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff in a civil action pursuant to this section.
  (c) This section does not apply to a private postsecondary educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization, to the extent that the application of this section would not be consistent with the religious tenets of the organization.
  (d) This section does not authorize the prior restraint of student speech.
  (e) This section does not prohibit the imposition of discipline for harassment, threats, or intimidation, unless constitutionally protected.
  (f) This section does not prohibit an institution from adopting rules and regulations that are designed to prevent hate violence, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 4 of Chapter 1363 of the Statutes of 1992, from being directed at students in a manner that denies them their full participation in the educational process, so long as the rules and regulations conform to standards established by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution for citizens generally.

Creating a Student Chapter

One way to get students involved in the legislative process is by using your state’s scholastic press association.

Early on in the process. the Garden State Scholastic Press Association‘s Board recognized the benefit of creating a Student Chapter. Not only could this student-led group help support and raise awareness of student free-press legislation, but they could create a network of student journalists who could help and support one another as well.

We began recruiting for this new group through our conference in the Fall of 2014. This conference draws over 700 students from across the state, and although we only got about 30 students who expressed interest, we did end up with a core group of students who were prepared to work hard on this. After communicating with them through e-mail, we set up a Facebook group for them and had our first chat in January of 2015.

After communicating with them through e-mail, we set up a Facebook group had our first online chat in January of 2015. This was followed by another chat is February in which we set up criteria for creating leadership positions for this group. To apply as an officer, students needed to create a post in the Facebook group explaining what they would bring to the group. They also were required to demonstrate how they were supporting or raising awareness of student free-press legislation (through pieces in their school newspaper or through letters to the editor).

In this first year, two leaders emerged who would run online chats, come to some board meetings and plan Student Chapter sessions for our next fall conference. Lilia Wood, a senior at Glen Rock High School, was the group’s first president and Malaika Jawed, a junior at South Brunswick High School, was the first vice-president. Their leadership was instrumental in the success of the student chapter. They conducted monthly online chats and were able to organize members, largely through the Facebook group, to contribute to a video on censorship. They presented this video during the first student-run session at the GSSPA’s fall conference.

In one year, they established this group and used the conference to help it grow. Lilia Wood received a certificate at the conference for her efforts, and she was later named the 2015 New Jersey High School Journalist of the Year and winner of the Bernard Kilgore Memorial Scholarship. Strong leadership is important in establishing a student group, and we were fortunate to have a student with passion and leadership skills as our first president.

 

Know your history

One of the first steps you can take towards New Voices legislation is getting to know the history of student free expression in your state.
As mentioned on the home page, I had the good fortune of partnering with John Tagliareni who is a retired journalism teacher, Executive Board member (and past president) of the Garden State Scholastic Press Association, and a current member of the JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee. He began the fight for student free expression legislation shortly after the Hazelwood decision in 1988. John worked with Mark Goodman who was then Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center.
Tagliareni described the legislative process in New Jersey in 1988.
“The bill began in the NJ Assembly with bipartisan support,” he said. “The bill, A557, and eventually, A575, was passed by the assembly but failed by a narrow margin in the senate. We were encouraged by Governor James Florio’s support. He was our keynote speaker at our GSSPA Press Day at Rutgers University, at the time. He said he would sign the bill when it got to his desk, so the defeat was very disappointing.”
Tagliareni also noted the opposition that they encountered back in 1988.
“It is also important to review the various challenges from organizations such as the New Jersey Education Association, the New Jersey Press Association, the New Jersey Supervisors and Administrators Association, and The Record, a powerful northern NJ newspaper,” he said. “Eventually, the opposition changed to support, ironically, from the supervisors, after Mark [Goodman] suggested changes to the bill. I also got at least a neutral position from the other groups, rather than opposition. The details are important because these groups would again have to be convinced to support any new legislation.”
Even without opposition, the bill ultimately didn’t receive enough votes in the senate. But as Tagliareni found, New Jersey already had strong student rights protection due to the State Constitution and the decisions in two State Supreme Court cases.
“While we were disappointed by the bill’s defeat, at the time, Mark [Goodman] explained that we also had probably the strongest state constitution in the country, specifically the affirmative wording of Article I Section 6,” Tagliareni said. “As Mark explained, the wording was in the affirmative and could be seen as giving a greater degree of protection than the U.S. Constitution. This was confirmed in the Desilets v. Clearview Regional Board of Education case. The student won at every level and was a precedent that can be used in any press rights challenge.”
In addition to this case, the Hazelwood standard was denied as justification in a 1992 case, Salek v. Passaic Collegiate School, which involved a yearbook photo that embarrassed two married teachers.
“This case was interesting because a teacher sued the school claiming that the administration should have invoked Hazelwood  to censor the students,” Tagliareni said. “The teacher was offended by a photo and caption, but the judge ruled that it was an obvious parody and ruled for the school.”

Still, while these protections existed for over two decades, we were also aware of how schools ignored or were ignorant of these precidents. That’s why the teacher protection provision of our bill and the requirment that districts change their policies to be in accordance with the new law are so important.