Gallery

Conservative schools’ speech codes are making life harder for students

The Conservative Alliance of American States is calling for more stringent speech codes in public schools across the country.

The group says that in order to improve learning outcomes, American public schools need to be more responsive to students’ needs.

In a letter sent to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday, the group said that many of the public school students that attend the schools most affected by speech codes have little or no understanding of their rights under the First Amendment and that they are often the victims of the “toxic environment of public schools.”

The Alliance of States said that while the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination says that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression,” it does not specify what that means.

It also called on the Education Department to “adopt a new approach to the issue of public speech codes,” noting that students are often not aware that they have the right under the U-Law to use the speech code that the school has set up for them.

The letter, which was addressed to DeVos, was also signed by two Republican senators: Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho.

The Alliance said that the UBS-funded Institute for Educational Technology has found that more than half of public school teachers and students surveyed do not use speech codes.

It further argued that students at public schools are being exposed to speech codes through the media and through the Internet, which is causing problems in school learning and communication.

Battenberg said that schools should be given more tools to respond to students and parents with questions.

“The American people have a right to know what their schools are doing and they deserve to know the results of their votes on these issues,” she said.

“In the end, it comes down to the schools and the parents, not to the government or to the UPSC.”