Teaching Profession

California Teachers Get Free Speech Protection

By Vaishali Honawar — September 30, 2008 1 min read

Time was when teachers in California could be dismissed, transferred, or disciplined if their students wrote articles that school administrators did not like.

Not anymore. A bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the weekend would make it tougher for administrators to retaliate against high school and college journalism teachers who protect students’ free speech.

According to the California Newspaper Publishers Association, teachers have been punished at least 12 times since 2001 because of articles written by student reporters.

In one instance, an adviser for a high school newspaper was reassigned after her students wrote a scathing editorial calling for cleaner campus bathrooms.

The governor also signed two bills cracking down on teachers who are accused or even convicted of serious crimes but still remain in the classroom.

One bill allows the state to revoke the licenses of teachers who plead no contest to certain sex crimes or drug offenses without waiting for a review that can sometimes take two or three years, according to this AP story.

The other bill allows the credentialing commission to revoke teacher licenses automatically if a previous criminal conviction has limited a teacher’s contact with children. The commission also will be able to suspend teachers automatically if they have had their license revoked in another state for misconduct.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.