Survey shows high school attitudes about First Amendment changing

An update to a 2004 survey of high school students and teachersreleased last month shows more education could be helping students understandand approve of press freedom, but an increasing number of students still believethe First Amendment “goes too far.”

The 2006 update of the survey “TheFuture of the First Amendment,” by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,found that 72 percent of students surveyed have taken classes dealing with theFirst Amendment, up 14 percent from 2004.

More education seems to havehad an effect on affirming freedom of the press in America, with 41 percent ofstudents saying the press has “about the right amount of freedom,” a jump from37 percent in 2004. Thirty percent of students said they believed the press had”too much freedom,” down two points from 32 percent in 2004.

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SPLC View: After the distressing 2004 survey results, theselatest numbers — while making it clear that we still have a long way to go— are mostly encouraging. The findings suggest that providing our nextgeneration of citizens with a meaningful civics education does, in fact, make adifference.