Calif. bill would protect student journalism teachers

Saturday, August 16, 2008

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Senate has again approved a measure prohibiting administrators from retaliating against high school and college journalism teachers.

Once the state’s budget impasse is settled, bill sponsor state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, is expected to send the measure to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A spokesman for Yee told the Orange County Register that Yee expects the Republican governor will sign the bill into law because of his previous support of students' First Amendment rights

Yee's bill would make it illegal to dismiss, transfer or discipline teachers who are trying to protect the free-speech rights of their students.

After a University of California official said that the university system would not abide by the measure as it passed the state Senate in April, the bill was altered to allow administrators to remove teacher advisers for poor performance.

The Senate approved S.B. 1370 on Aug. 5 by 31-2. Schwarzenegger's office hasn’t said whether he will sign the bill.

The governor said on Aug. 6 that he would veto any bills sent to him until the Legislature sends him a budget proposal, the Register reported.

“I expect the Governor to sign this bill into law, as has consistently supported our efforts to make sure true freedom of the press is alive and well on our campuses,” Yee said in a news release. “Allowing a school administration to censor in any way is contrary to the democratic process and the ability of a student newspaper to serve as the watchdog and bring sunshine to the actions of school administrators.”

The California Newspaper Publishers Association says journalism teachers have been punished at least 12 times since 2001 because of stories or opinion pieces written by student reporters.

Tags: , ,