SPLC's Frank LoMonte talks student speech and school censorship on Education Talk Radio

Student Press Law Center Executive Director Frank LoMonte spoke to Larry Jacobs, host of Education Talk Radio, on Thursday about some of the SPLC’s work, including on issues of school transparency and online citizenship. Here are some of his points.

On schools’ regulation of students’ off-campus speech: 

“Because our schools are so petrified of the power and reach of social media, schools are reaching out into students’ off campus lives to threaten them, frankly, for the kind of speech the First Amendment was meant to protect. If the First Amendment doesn’t do anything else, it has to protect the rights of citizens to question government policies and to call for improvements into government services, that’s why we have it. And teenagers are citizens.”

On whether schools have the right to control their image: 

“I would never use the word right to refer to a government agency. Rights are the things that protect us from the government, not the other way around. The government doesn’t have the right to protect itself from its own citizens.”

On schools’ claims of transparency and community involvement: 

“I would suggest that anyone who thinks that schools and colleges are transparent, try filing a public records request with them and find out how transparent they really are. What we find is that students and professional journalists who call us as well and even members of the community who try to get the simplest public document out of a school or college are often met with a flurry of objections, denials, exceptions and jackpot fees.”

Listen to the whole program here.