2005 applications available to promote First Amendment in schools

Thursday, April 28, 2005

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The First Amendment Schools project will award five grants of $10,000 each to help schools affirm First Amendment principles and put them into action throughout their communities.

First Amendment Schools: Educating for Freedom and Responsibility (FAS) is cosponsored by the First Amendment Center and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Eligible applicants are public and independent schools in the United States, including elementary, middle, and high schools.

“Encouraging students to actively participate in their communities is vital in preparing them for their future lives as citizens in our democratic society,” said ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter. “Schools that provide students opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills to become actively engaged in civic life are important for the future of our democracy and the academic and social growth of our young people.”

Each Project School will receive a $10,000 grant, subject to review and renewal in August 2006 and 2007. These five schools will join the 15 current First Amendment Project Schools that were selected in May 2002 and May 2004.

The current project schools — a diverse group of elementary, middle, and high schools serving urban, suburban, and rural communities — have worked for several years to integrate First Amendment rights and civic responsibilities into the daily lives of their schools. In October 2003, the project was extended to include the First Amendment Affiliate Schools program, which encourages all K–12 public and private schools to become laboratories of democratic freedom and provides resources to help them in their work.

“Schools must not only teach the First Amendment; they must also find ways to model and apply the democratic first principles that they are charged with teaching,” said Charles C. Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center. “First Amendment principles provide a much-needed framework for cultivating democratic schools that are places of civic responsibility and enhanced learning.”

The First Amendment Schools project has four primary goals:

  • Create a nationwide network of schools committed to providing students and all members of the school community with meaningful opportunities to practice democratic freedom.
  • Develop guidelines and resources for all schools — K–12, public and private — interested in applying the First Amendment and other democratic principles throughout the school culture.
  • Encourage and develop reforms across the curriculum that deepen teaching and learning about freedom and democracy.
  • Educate key stakeholders — including school leaders, teachers, parents, students, school board members and other community leaders — about the vital role of First Amendment rights and responsibilities in sustaining and expanding American democracy.

    To achieve these goals, the First Amendment Schools project serves as a national resource for all schools interested in affirming First Amendment principles and putting them into action in their school communities.

    Grant applications are available online (in PDF format) and are due April 29, 2005. For more information about the application process, contact Emily Nicholson (1-703/284-3931; enicholson@freedomforum.org).

    For further information about the First Amendment Schools project, contact Molly McCloskey at ASCD (1-703/575-5475; mmccloskey@ascd.org) or Sam Chaltain at the First Amendment Center (1-703/284-2808; schaltain@freedomforum.org).

    For more information on the First Amendment Schools project, see the project Web site at www.firstamendmentschools.org. The site, part of the First Amendment Center Online, includes:

    • Answers to the most frequently asked questions about hot-button First Amendment issues in public schools.
    • Summaries of key court decisions involving the five freedoms in schools.
    • Lesson plans to teach the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
    • News about important developments in First Amendment law.
    • Sample policies on subjects from dress codes to student Web sites.
    • An online checklist to help schools examine First Amendment practices in their communities.
    • An interactive quiz about key First Amendment principles.
    • Guidance on how schools can join the First Amendment Schools Network.
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