Schools selected to create models of democratic freedom

Tuesday, May 7, 2002

WASHINGTON — Eleven schools were announced today as the first project schools in the First Amendment Schools (FAS) initiative, a multiyear reform effort sponsored by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and the First Amendment Center. The initiative is designed to transform how all schools model and teach the rights and responsibilities of the First Amendment and how they can help students become active and engaged citizens.

The 11 schools will be laboratories of democratic freedom, demonstrating how schools can provide all members of the school community with opportunities to practice democracy and uphold inalienable rights. The schools, chosen from a national grant competition, are elementary, middle, and high schools that serve urban, suburban, and rural communities and reflect the demographic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity of communities across the country.

Names of the First Amendment project schools were released at an announcement program at the National Press Club in Washington.

“All of the project schools are committed to upholding the democratic and public mission of schooling in America, to providing their students with an apprenticeship in freedom and responsibility,” said Gene Carter, executive director of ASCD. “Our aim is to help educators, students, and parents work together to build civic responsibility, intellectual openness, personal freedom, and mutual respect for all students.”

The First Amendment project schools are listed below (see full school profiles):

High schools
Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School for Public Policy, Washington, D.C.
Federal Hocking High School, Stewart, Ohio
Harmony School, Bloomington, Ind.
Hudson High School, Hudson, Mass.
Lanier High School, Jackson, Miss.

Middle schools
Butler Middle School, Salt Lake City, Utah
Center City School, Salt Lake City, Utah
Northwest Middle School, Salt Lake City, Utah

Elementary schools
Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Logan, Utah
Fairview Elementary School, Modesto, Calif.
Nursery Road Elementary School, Columbia, S.C.

“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 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 goal of the First Amendment Schools initiative is to encourage all schools to:

  • Create laboratories of democratic freedom by providing students and all members of the school community with substantial opportunities to practice democracy.

  • Commit to inalienable rights and civic responsibility by providing all members of the school community with daily opportunities to exercise their constitutional rights with responsibility.
  • Include all stakeholders by encouraging parents, students, educators, and community members to work closely together to promote a shared vision of the First Amendment throughout the school culture.
  • Translate civic education into community engagement through service learning and civic problem-solving.

Speaking about the potential impact of the project, First Amendment expert and syndicated columnist Nat Hentoff suggested that First Amendment Schools “may create a revolution.”

The First Amendment Schools project will serve as a national resource for all schools — K-12, public and private — interested in affirming First Amendment principles and putting them into action in their school communities.

Additional information is available online. For further information about the project, contact Mike Wildasin at ASCD (703/575-5475; or Sam Chaltain at the First Amendment Center (703/284-2808;

Tags: , ,