The Supreme Court plays a major role in deciding which constitutional freedoms apply to students. In the 1960s the Supreme Court argued that students needed greater freedoms in order to be better citizens. More recently, the Supreme Court has argued against student rights in order to create more orderly learning environments. Both sides have merit. Over the course of the week we’ll act out the different arguments through fish bowls, role plays and informal debates. By the end of the week, students will better understand the principles and challenges behind free speech.
The First Amendment’s protections of free speech is considered the crown jewel of American freedoms. Without free speech, argued Frederick Douglass, there is no liberty at all. High school students, however, are in a slightly different category. Public schools restrict what students can and cannot say and what they can and cannot wear. How is that not a violation of the First Amendment?
Meg Mott has taught debate and constitutional reasoning to high school students through Marlboro College’s summer program.