Tuesday, February 15, 2005

THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR reports the results of a recent survey on high school students' attitudes toward First Amendment rights. Be warned: it's depressing. Asked if the First Amendment "goes too far in the rights it guarantees," a third of the students surveyed said it did. Almost half of the students (49 percent) say that the government should have the power to approve newspaper articles prior to publication.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that American teenagers are so indifferent to the First Amendment. You cannot understand or take seriously what you were never taught.

"If, as at many schools, the administration runs their newspaper like Pravda, they are probably not coming away with much more understanding or knowledge than those students who never worked on a publication in the first place," says Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, which provides free legal advice to high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities of the First Amendment. Student papers need to offer real journalism, not propaganda, he adds.
When those student papers exist at all, that is. More and more schools are cutting media and journalism education from increasingly strapped budgets.

And if you're thinking that maybe parents should be teaching their children about the meaning and importance of our basic freedoms, you're right. But most of them can't. If the CSM piece is to be believed, 99 percent of American adults cannot name the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment.

Can you?

No comments: