A functioning democracy depends on a “news literate” electorate that seeks and values high-quality information about issues of public concern. News consumption habits are formed at the K-12 level; students should be encouraged to create topical, engaging media that contributes to the discussion of education issues.
Because of the erosion of the professional news media – a 2009 Brookings Institution study found that just 1.4 percent of mainstream media coverage is devoted to education, chiefly crisis coverage such as school shootings or disease outbreaks – student-produced media is often the community’s only source of information about school programs and policies.
The deficit of meaningful civics education, and its impact on informed political participation, is well documented. Journalism is participatory civics. It is the vehicle through which students directly interact with government agencies, learn how they work, and bring that information to their peers in a relatable way.
Censorship of girls who are just beginning to explore their interest in reporting has serious implications for their futures. We don’t build leaders by telling them to keep their worthless opinions to themselves.
Active Voice stands for the power of informed, responsible and substantive student journalism, and the lasting benefits it offers in personal leadership development, civic readiness and career preparation.
By creating a grassroots support network that reinforces young women intimidated from speaking up, we can improve the learning climate for all students and restore a sensible balance between school authority and the freedom of intellectual growth and exploration.