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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 22, 2020 04:02 PM
From: Representative Melissa L. Shusterman
To: All House members
Subject: Protecting the Rights of Student Journalists – Free School Media Act
2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a landmark ruling defending free student press where the courts established that “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Currently, Pennsylvania’s education regulations ensure students the right to express themselves through publications and other forms of communication, but still allow principals and school administrators to silence student voices through the practice of prior review and restraint.

Freedom of the press is essential to maintaining and protecting journalistic integrity. Defending the free press and free speech rights of students does not only fulfill our duty to protect the constitutional rights of young Pennsylvanians but will also send a message to our students that we care about their voices. That is why I am introducing a bill that seeks to allow school districts to implement policies to place administrative review in the hands of student editors to help ensure journalistic integrity. In addition to protecting students, my legislation would also provide protections for journalism teachers and advisors. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate as SB 806.

As an advocate for transparency in government, I hope you will join me in helping foster the same culture of transparency in our schools and support student journalists who provide an essential service to their schools. I hope that you will join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB2302