OPINION: How much freedom should teens have at school?
3 Students Speak Up
Editors Note: Recently, Mr. Meza-Elert’s 9th grade DMD classes were asked to write about the rights of teens while on school campus. We here at the Galaxy were intrigued by the results of the assignment, and have asked permission to reprint some of the best responses.
Teachers! Have some great student work for the Galaxy? Let us know- we’re always on the hunt for great student work to show the world.
Limit Student Rights, But Do Not Sacrifice Student Expression
By: Elijah Aloese
How much rights should students have at school? Many people have argued over the amount of rights students should be given. I personally believe that students should be given a limited amount of rights. My reason for this is because students want to be able to do more than they can handle responsibly. Students should be trusted with responsibilities, but not too much.
Schools have many rules due to the shooting at Columbine some years ago. This is reasonable, schools need to keep their students safe. However, some rules are not needed, they are useless. If students are not able to express themselves, school would make their lives worse. They should be able to wear what they want, when they want. The 1st Amendment protects our freedom of speech. It says that we as students can say what we want, or dress the way we want. It also says that we may not cause any fights if we do say something. Schools are taking away students’ freedom of speech by making them wear uniforms and making the dress codes more strict. Without expressing themselves, students lose their creativity. The Tinker case was a case years back, involving students with free speech. One day, a group of students came to school wearing armbands that protested against the war in Vietnam. The school suspended three students that decided to wear them after the principal banned armbands, saying that they were a distraction. The students sued the school, saying that they were expressing their beliefs on the Vietnam war. After many times to Court, the students finally won in the Supreme Court. The court said that students have the right to say or express what they want, they just cannot start any fights or arguments. This case won rights for students everywhere, we gained more rights in school. By making more strict rules, schools are taking away our rights.
Although I think students need more rights, I also believe that they should not have too much. I believe this because if schools give students too much rights, they might abuse it. If students were allowed to smoke in school, that would be bad. This is because of what may happen if students have too much rights. Students would not be focused in school, instead they would be busy trying to get a smoke. They may take advantage of their rights and do things their not supposed to do. They would think they could do anything because they would have many rights. This is why I say that schools should give us a limited amount of rights. Their was a case where a students gave a speech in school to help a friend win an election. The boy used harsh language and also offended many people with jokes about their sexuality. The boy was suspended because he could have started many arguments or fights. This is why I say that students need only a limited amount of rights. Students should be trusted with some a little responsibility before they get a lot. Over the years, I have seen students honor the rules, not breaking any. However, schools need to be sure that they can be trusted before they give students too much rights.
Some people may say that I’m wrong, that students should get no rights at all. Well, I believe that they are wrong. What would students do if they weren’t able to speak freely or dress the way they want? If schools give us less rights, students will not be able to focus in school. Rather, they would be focused on not getting in trouble if they broke one simple rule. They would get scared to speak their minds because they would not want to get in trouble. Students need to be able to speak out, and express their feelings. Schools need to give their students more rights. Students should be able to speak freely or have some privacy in school. Schools seem to be taking that away from us, and it is wrong.
Drowning in Rights?
By: Micheal Fiori
Ever stop and think about the true consequences about freedom at school? I know I have. It is from my perspective and vast amount of research that I say there should be freedom at school but not so much that students wind up drowning in it. Its like having a dog on a leash, hold it too tight and your being cruel while the dog grows in distaste of you, let it stretch too far and your dog gets hit by a car. That is not to say that students are the equivalent of dogs but still the limits for safety is present.
Rules should not interfere with the Bill of Rights, but circumstances play a big part. If a school knows that a certain distinctive outfit is going to cause a disturbance on campus, then it makes sense for said outfit to be banned. An example of this is the Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines. In such case an anti-war rally went on with black arm bands as their key representation. When the school heard of this they banned black arm bands, afraid it might unsettle the students with family and friends in the war. When students still showed up with black armbands they were suspended until they stopped wearing the armbands. Then a few of the students who had felt their right had been violated unjustly sued the school on account of violating their first amendment right. The case was brought up all the way to the Supreme Court were it was decided that “Students have the right to express themselves freely as long as it didn’t cause any fights or disruptions”.
Another point to address would be that schools have parental responsibilities over their students, and if this is not kept together things can go south. An example of this would be that of the tragic Columbine Incident. In said incident two teens who had previously been bullies and then were bullied by others themselves went on a killing spree at their high school. Looking back at the event it was decided that if the school had been paying more close attention to plentiful warning signs, the whole thing could have been avoided.
Another part of the story of course is that schools became clearly overprotective after the Columbine incident. I feel that such actions taken were not the best for the situation. The reason I say this is because although I understand the schools were in shock, but many of the cases were just ludicrous. This includes a kid getting suspended for making a booby-trapped school level in a video game. I mean thats just a video game for crying out loud. Unless the kid had a known history of harnessing the equipment needed or anything else equally suspicious I doubt highly it would have gone far in the first place. I feel the case of a student making a novel taking influence from Stephen King had room for suspicion but the school took that one way too far. He wasn’t allowed to graduate at all, if thats not a cruel and unusually harsh punishment I do not know what is.
Some might say that schools should give students all the freedom in the world. To that I would say that if students are given too much freedom with it will also come heavy consequences as well. If kids have the freedom to express themselves with no limits the rise of fights will be terrible. On the other hand some may say that students should have no freedom at school and it should all be learning focused. To that comment I say that for a fair amount of students with strict parents and rough situations schools may be their only outlet keeping them from going over the edge.
In conclusion, I say that although freedom should not be overflowing to the students that it should be a bit present for the overall well being of students. Should certain groups of students be able to ruin freedom for all? Not completely, if all is like that then we will be nothing more then mindless lamb walking to slaughter. Finally I say that all should have balance to it, with out it would be lopsided, and as long as all is in balance all will be well for all.
By: Jamie Lee Tenderro
How would you define freedom? Getting to shout profanity at the teachers when they made you angry? Taking a few days off of school for pleasure? Freedom gives you justice for your words and actions. With freedom, there are many possibilities. But here’s the catch: when there’s freedom, there’s limits.
Freedom is not to be taken for granted. We should cherish this delicious right, this sacred giving. Sometimes people forget the limits of certain freedoms. For example, everyone has the freedom of speech. You can say what you want, whenever you want. Or could you?
During an associate student body election assembly, a boy named Matt Jones was on stage, trying to persuade students to vote his friend for ASB president. His speech included insults to the school faculty, cuss words, and direct inferences to sexuality. He enjoyed the speech as well as some students, but the school staff and students felt deeply uncomfortable. He was suspended after that, but Matt claimed he had the freedom of speech. What do you think of that?
The school had a right to suspend Matt. His speech was inappropriate and vulgar. It had caused a disturbance. Now you must be thinking, didn’t you just say that we have the freedom of speech? Yes, I did say that. But I also said something else: when there’s freedom, there’s limits. Freedom should be limited to the satisfaction and safety of others, in and out of school.
There’s a reason why schools have rules. Why countries have laws. Why that wherever you go, there’s going to be a rule of some kind. If schools offered TOTAL FREEDOM, there’d be TOTAL CHAOS. Let’s just pretend that you were allowed to whatever you wanted at school. Some kids would might bring weapons or drugs to school. Or they probably would choose to not go to school at all. More people would be hurt, everything would be discombobulated. That’s why schools need to have an iron fist on their students, but also a soft hand. With both, there can be discipline combined with freedom and its limits.
Here at Kearny high school, there’s an elevator located at the edge of Kearny DMD. During the first few days of school, it was often used by the students as an easier way to get to their classes than the staircase. The elevator was actually made for the handicapped (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.) but most of the students didn’t know that. There was no handicap sign on the elevator doors telling students that they can’t ride the elevator. No teachers or staff of any other kind told them. It was an unspoken rule. Soon, through enforcement, the rule became clear to students, who began to use the elevator appropriately.
In conclusion, students should have freedoms, but freedom is like that elevator- it can only get you from one floor to another if it is used properly and safely.