Students Are NOT Second-Class Citizens!
In spite of the Supreme Court’s ringing endorsement of students’ rights in the landmark Tinker decision, constitutional violations are far too common in public schools across the country. Articles about controversial subjects written for student newspapers are censored. Lockers and backpacks are searched without reasonable suspicion. Minority students are disproportionately directed to lower track programs. Majoritarian religious practices are officially sanctioned by teachers and school administrators. Female students are excluded from certain extracurricular activities, and gay students are intimidated into silence.
Teachers and administrators have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for the students that is conducive to learning. They also have a responsibility to respect each student’s individual rights. These two missions are not incompatible. Kids have rights too!