Student Journalist

February 27, 2008
By Sadie Hewitt, Cocoa Beach, FL

As a student journalist being passed through Brevard County’s educational system, I am familiar with censorship. However, recent censorship of an article I’ve written has left me questioning the meaning of education. Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, a student’s right to free speech in a school publication is limited. Many teachers feel pressured to censor students’ articles for fear of “hot water” from the school administration. Instead, what teachers should fear is the kind of education their students are receiving. Is it the kind of education that is driven by standardized testing and is completely devoid of critical analysis, thereby creating a society of blindly led “sheeple”?
In this era of cookie cutter school systems that prohibit individuality, we have all becomes shells. We, as today’s youth, have become facades of real people. We write fluff news and allow our names to be printed on an article we have made “easy to read” so as to please the other shells. We print articles and write our English papers in a hurry, turning in vacuous ramblings while our teachers grade these papers just as mindlessly as we wrote them. In the classroom we are not required to support our ideas or even voice them at all. We are certainly not encouraged to engage in any type of critical thought. This way, the administration can herd us through our “education” like the compliant sheep that we all are, without questioning the validity of their authority or the ideas they feed us. We are expected to toe the line and, god forbid, we write about something controversial and spark thought among the numb sea of bodies we call students.
Because I am “on the inside” every single day experiencing the decline of critical thought, I encourage student journalists to think for themselves and research everything. As a group, we need to reinstate the power of the written word and utilize this power to write articles that encourage and provoke critical thought.

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