School institutions have become a nexus for the exchange of culture, ideas, values, rituals, and ceremonies. It has become more apparent that the basic school mission to create an educated citizenry does not entail strictly
I didn’t grow up in the 60’s so I can’t say what the cultural climate was when Tinker was ruled upon. However, I can tell you that China currently is in the same “area” as where Tinker was determined. An example of this is the pervasive idea that “the teacher is always right.” This creates students that are not free thinkers, or as one student wrote in a poem they are “puppets”. Having grown up under the Tinker ruling I was allowed to express my ideas, disagree with teachers and principals, and to some degree was encouraged to do so. All of that has led me to be able to stand upon my beliefs and to argue the contrary opinion. My students, now, for the most part have never had the abilities to express themselves, and it is something new to “debate” what is or is not. I think I understand the Des Moines school for wanting to limit the student’s speech due to the “uncomfortable” nature. However, how does the limiting of that speech help to create an educated citizenry? Discussion and discourse can allow for the exchange of ideas and the expansion of educational opportunities. Even though scholars have stated that tinker was the end of in loco parentis, I would argue that it was the start of something greater – freethinking.
In regards to Morse and Bethel the schools, as the judges said, should have a right to limit speech or a vulgar, or drug endorsing behavior. I would agree again based upon the notion that the school is to create an educated citizenry. Wherein, students need to know the limits of the socially acceptable means of communication in society. The schools in these cases looked at the expression and found that that expression does not fit into an “educated citizenry”. Having taught sexual reproduction at a Christian school, I had to express to parents, students, and the administration that the content, and context of the teaching that was to be done was a means to create discussion and discourse, but not to vilify, or allow misrepresentation to occur. Discussions of drugs also arose in my anatomy and physiology class, but as means to allow for the expansion of knowledge, and not the expression of suggested use. In the examples I gave, the knowledge does support the claim of an “educated citizenry” but the later does not fit into the “socially acceptable”.
The Hazelwood court agreed that when a school is the creator of material they should have greater control over the material presented. I agree with this again with the notion that schools are to help create an “educated citizenry”. In a “school produced” event, function, or article it is the school’s responsibility to make sure that their voice is heard. When a student writes about something that the schools does not agree with and it is using the “schools voice” the school has the right to modify. In business all the time articles are revised, or scrapped because it does not fit the model of the business. Schools have the need to represent themselves in a certain way. If the student instead wishes to publish their article in a non-school paper then that other paper can determine if it fits with their mission.
We are looking at the wrong standards when we debate if in loco parentis has been hindered or strengthened by court rulings. Instead of looking at as such we should look at it as a changing society. As society changes something’s will become permissible and some will be banned. The questions then becomes, are we gearing our students to become “educated citizenry”?