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Beyond the Schoolhouse Gate: Free Speech and the Inculcation of Values

Robert Lane

Publication Year: 1995

Outstanding Academic Title, Choice, 1995 "What makes Lane's approach unique is that he weaves together different perspectives on the nature of school into a very colorful but informative and lucid tapestry that seeks the outer limits of free expression within the boundaries of the school context, always with an eye toward promoting the goal of inculcation of values, a worthy end for students and school officials alike." —Samuel M. Davis, Allen Post Professor of Law, University of Georgia *In a 1969 landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the suspension of student for protesting the Vietnam War violated the First Amendment. *In 1972, the U.S. court of appeals upheld the suspension of black high school students for protesting the playing of "Dixie" at a pep rally. *In 1986, a U.S. district court ruled that the suspension of a student for directing a vulgar gesture at one of his school teachers in a fast-food restaurant was unconstitutional. On what grounds do public school students merit First Amendment protection? These three examples illustrate the broad range of litigation that has attempted to answer this question. Robert Wheeler Lane reviews the obstacles of this important issue and suggests a mix of protection and autonomy for students. Pulling together evidence about the aims of public education, the changing legal status of children, and the values underlying freedom of expression, Lane debates the relationship between constitutional litigation and the dual pursuits of academic excellence and classroom order. Ultimately, utilizing both lower court and Supreme Court decisions, he finds that independent student expression deserves considerable constitutional protection; student expression assisted by school officials (such as school-funded student newspapers) should be subject to some control; and nonstudent expression (such as a school's selection of library books) should be left largely to the school's discretion. His conclusions suggest that in forging First Amendment protection for public school students, strongly held positions need not be extreme.

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Several people who assisted me in this project deserve thanks. The staff at Temple University Press have been both professional and patient in guiding me through the publication process. I am grateful for their initial interest and generous support. ...

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One. Pursuing Excellence and Order

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pp. 1-14

To protest their nation's involvement in the Vietnam War, three Des Moines, Iowa, students arrived at school in December 1965 wearing black armbands. School officials promptly suspended them for violating a recently adopted policy prohibiting such actions. The United States Supreme Court, in a landmark 1969 case, held that the suspensions violated the First Amendment.1 ...

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Two. The Emergence of Children's Rights

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pp. 15-46

To understand the difficulty of forging constitutional rights for adolescents, we must appreciate the tension between social integration and individual autonomy. As a semiautonomous stage of development, adolescence is both a period in itself and a transitional time of trial and error.1 Franklin Zimring notes the disjuncture between the static legal position of adolescents and the contours of this stage: ...

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Three. Free Speech and Public Education

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pp. 47-66

How congruent are the aims of public education and free-speech principles? What problems arise in reconciling the inculcative function (the transmission of values) of public schooling with free speech? Commentators often find this relationship adversarial, so that advancing one requires hindering the other. David Diamond, for example, exalts the inculcative function and argues that, since the principal business ...

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Four. A Focused Balancing Alternative

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pp. 67-82

Building a principled foundation for extending First Amendment protection to public school students requires an examination of the types of First Amendment problems confronting the federal courts and the prevailing doctrines employed by the bench to resolve them. This foundation also requires replacing public forum analysis with a "focused balancing" alternative. Finally, we need to clarify what we mean by "student speech." ...

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Five. Tolerating Student Speech

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pp. 83-102

Student free-speech disputes, in large measure, arise in three contexts. Some disputes concern the refusal by school officials to permit or tolerate certain speech. Others involve incidents in which school officials decline to associate the public schools with certain types of student speech. A third area relates to efforts by school officials to control student access to adult expression. ...

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Six. Assisting Student Expression

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pp. 103-128

Students frequently ask school officials for three kinds of assistance in promoting their ideas and beliefs: funding, faculty supervision, and access to school facilities. Fearing that such assistance associates the school system with controversial, distasteful student speech, school officials deny many of these requests. When they do grant them, administrators usually ...

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Seven. Access to Information and Ideas

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pp. 129-154

While toleration and association disputes involve direct student expression, indoctrination disputes consider whether the First Amendment confers upon public school pupils a "right to receive" information and ideas from third parties. The bulk of disputes over such a right concern the removal of books from school libraries.1 ...

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Eight. A Matter of Degree

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pp. 155-174

Given the dual pursuits of academic excellence and classroom order, educational reform efforts invariably affect the constitutional rights of public school students. Accordingly, the United States Supreme Court has granted them some measure of First Amendment speech protection. Not surprisingly, the Court's effort displeases ...


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pp. 175-206


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pp. 207-210

E-ISBN-13: 9781439903452

Publication Year: 1995