IT Infrastructure

Teenager’s Tweet About Governor Causes Uproar

By McClatchy-Tribune — December 06, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A student’s recent tweet criticizing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback soon became the center of a heated debate about students’ free-speech rights.

The saga began Nov. 21 when Emma Sullivan, a senior at Shawnee Mission East High School, tweeted: “Just made mean comments at gov.brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot,” as she and other students involved in a Youth in Government program listened to the Republican’s welcome. (She didn’t actually make those comments or meet him.)

The governor’s staff noticed the Twitter message and brought it to the attention of educators. The 18-year-old said she was summoned before Principal Karl Krawitz, who scolded her and told her to write an apology.

Reports of the dispute—and the apology demand—soon exploded on the Internet.

“There’s no reason why a voting-age citizen, whether in or out of high school, should be prevented from making negative comments about an elected official,” wrote blogger E.D. Kain on the Forbes website. “Our political leaders are not gods. They’re just men and women, flawed like the rest of us.”

But others said manners and civility are important goals, particularly for educators. “I am not asking her to agree with Brownback, but respect for our institutions is an important thing for schools to teach,” wrote blogger Anthony Colleluori, a New York lawyer.

Still others thought the teenager’s comments may have been rude, but that the governor’s office overreacted.

District officials decided last week that she would not have to apologize for the message, but Mr. Brownback did, saying he was sorry that his staff “overreacted.”

Some experts said free-speech rights are always complicated when students are involved, and the issues can be especially difficult when students use social media like Facebook and Twitter.

“Because it’s very unmanageable and unwieldy and it goes viral like this tweet did, it’s very scary for everybody,” said Michelle Sherman, a lawyer who studies social-media legal issues.

A version of this article appeared in the December 07, 2011 edition of Education Week as Teenager’s Tweet About Governor Causes Uproar


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

IT Infrastructure School District Data Systems Are Messed Up. A New Coalition Wants to Help
Organizations representing states and school districts have teamed up with ISTE to help make data systems more user-friendly and secure.
3 min read
Conceptual collage of arrows, icon figures, and locks
Sean Gladwell/Moment/Getty
IT Infrastructure More Families Have Internet Access. So Why Hasn't the Digital Divide Begun to Close?
A new study says low-income families’ access to the internet has soared in the past six years. But there are other barriers to connectivity.
3 min read
Glowing neon Loading icon isolated on brick wall background. Progress bar icon.
Mingirov/iStock/Getty Images Plus
IT Infrastructure Remote and Hybrid Learning Are Declining. But the 'Homework Gap' Will Still Be a Problem
Schools are returning to in-person instruction, but students' connections to the internet at home remain spotty.
2 min read
Sam Urban Wittrock, left, an advance placement World History Teacher at W.W. Samuell High School, displays a wifi hot spot that are being handed out to students in Dallas on April 9, 2020. Dallas I.S.D. is handing out the devices along with wifi hotspots to students in need so that they can connect online for their continued education amid the COVID-19 health crisis.
Sam Urban Wittrock, left, an Advanced Placement World History Teacher at W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas, displays one of the Wi-Fi hotspots that were given to district students during the pandemic.
Tony Gutierrez/AP
IT Infrastructure 'Big Burden' for Schools Trying to Give Kids Internet Access
A year into the pandemic, millions of students remain without internet because of financial hurdles and logistical difficulties.
5 min read
Veronica Esquivel, 10, finishes her homework after her virtual school hours while her brother Isias Esquivel sits in front of the computer, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, at their residence in Chicago's predominantly Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood.
Veronica Esquivel, 10, finishes her homework after her virtual school hours while her brother Isias Esquivel sits in front of the computer, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, at their residence in Chicago's predominantly Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood.
Shafkat Anowar/AP