A New Voices bill that supports student journalists is back on the agenda for the 2018 Indiana General Assembly.
People ask me why I’m still working on this bill after my recent retirement from the Indiana High School Press Association. Although this effort isn’t about me, my 46-year career as a journalism educator explains my passion for the bill.
I was seeking my first teaching job in 1971 when I was offered a position teaching English at Mooresville High School. In addition to sophomore English classes, it included a journalism class and serving as adviser for the biweekly high school newspaper. Although I had a communication minor that included journalism, I had little experience actually working with a newspaper staff.
Despite my lack of experience, the principal told me not to worry with the comment, “The kids do all the work.”
It didn’t take long to realize there was a considerable amount of work for everyone to publish a student newspaper every two weeks, and I found that the stress of being a first year teacher had an uptick for me every two weeks.
At the end of the year when I was offered a new contract, my husband asked if I could get rid of the newspaper. With as much surprise to me as to him I said, “No. That’s the best part of my job.”
What I realized in less than nine months was that the writing of my journalism students had improved more than the writing of my English students because the student journalists also learned a variety of editing, interviewing, research, problem-solving, conflict resolution and time management skills as they practiced the First Amendment first-hand.
Consequently, for the next 33 years at MHS, I continued to advise the newspaper staff in addition to the yearbook staff for 23 years and a broadcast team for ten.
In each of these areas, my students were allowed the freedom to report about important stories because administrators supported that effort. In addition to coverage of academics and student activities, student journalists analyzed a variety of teenage concerns as they covered stories about school policies, political issues, binge drinking, drugs, depression, stress, health, suicide, loss of loved ones and STDs.
Even when coverage might generate controversial responses, administrators were good sources for information that could find an appropriate angle for the topics.
Today, administrators at many schools in Indiana support journalism students in the same way, but the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court decision of 1988 provided language that gave administrators the power to control the coverage, and for almost 30 years some have used that decision to censor anything that might cause their phone to ring with a negative response.
That censorship has led many states to pass New Voices legislation that gives every student journalist, not just those whose administrators are willing to work with them in a positive way, the opportunity to do meaningful coverage that provides information that can inform and improve their school community.
It is important to emphasize that HB1016 does not promote irresponsible practices.
It fosters respect and responsibility—cornerstones of the society that our students will soon lead.
It affirms the fact that students guided by certified advisers can be the most trusted and relevant source of information to educate their peers and discourage risky behaviors. (My experience is that student reporting can literally save lives.)
It encourages a patriotic approach for civic duty. Journalism has been fundamental to democracy since the founding of our Republic. Studies show that student journalists become engaged citizens.
As the 2018 legislative session evolves, advocates for HB 1016 will be telling some of the real stories that celebrate student journalism with the hope that new legislation will encourage all administrators to work with student journalists as they explore topics that challenge them and improve their schools as they learn to respect the power and responsibility of the First Amendment.
My journalism colleagues and I appreciate all the effort IFCL lobbyist Bill Chapman has provided to make connections with legislators and promote this valuable bill for a second year.
Citizens who value scholastic journalism specifically and the First Amendment in general are encouraged to contact their state legislators by phone or email to share support of HB 1016.
New Voices bill that supports student journalists was last modified: January 13th, 2018 by admin
“Hate crimes are different from other crimes. They strike at the heart of one’s identity- they strike at our sense of self, our sense of belonging. The end result is loss- loss of trust, loss of dignity, and in the worst case, loss of life.-
-Former FBI Director James Comey
When a person targets a victim on the basis of particular characteristics, but not limited to, one’s religious faith, race, nation of origin or sexual orientation, they harm both the victim and the wider community. This type of hate is at odds with the values of our state, nation and global community. As Indiana has come under national scrutiny as one of only five states (AK, GA SC and WY) without a Hate Crimes Law we believe there are clear indications that the Indiana General Assembly is finally ready to take legislative action.
Why do we need a Hate Crimes Law? Simply put, hate crimes happen. According to the FBI, from 2008- 2015 more than 400 hate crimes were reported. This figure is likely to be much higher as several cities, including Indianapolis, failed to report for multiple years. From these figures we note that the two most commonly reported motivators were race and religion. It is also important to remember that the federal government has a very limited capacity to prosecute hate crimes. In 1993 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Mitchell v. Wisconsin that hate crimes statutes were constitutional and in no way limited free speech or religious expression.
But under current Indiana law, can’t a judge take motives such as “hate” into consideration during the sentencing phase of a prosecution? Yes, but without a clear reference to motivation in statute this leaves the sentence open to appeal. While Indiana already has eleven specific aggravating circumstances, none address bias motivators. As the General Assembly has failed to enact hate crimes legislation in previous sessions, judges cannot help but interpret this inaction as an indication that bias should not be taken into account when considering sentencing.
What is the outlook from a legislative perspective in 2018? In short- promising. For the first time- Republican and Democrat Leadership in both chambers have voiced support for passing a hate crimes bill. IFCL has spent much of the summer in conversation with lawmakers urging them to support a bill that has strong protections for all groups. But perhaps even more importantly we have welcomed their suggestions and concerns. Our goal is to not simply pass any bill, but persuade strong majorities in both chambers to pass a bill with strong protections for all victims.
We ask for your support and assistance with a hate crimes bill- SB418(Glick). Please contact your House and Senate members and ask them to support SB418 We will be back with regular updates on the legislation and more information as to how in other ways you might specifically help with our efforts.
Why Does Indiana Need a Hate Crimes Law? was last modified: January 8th, 2018 by admin
“Gerrymandering has created an absurd reality, where politicians now pick their voters instead of the voters picking their politicians.”
– Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
As we draw closer to the January 3rd start of the 2018 General Assembly, I wanted to ask for your assistance with one of the core issues that we have worked on over the last several years- Redistricting Reform. Sen. John Ruckelshaus (District 30-R) has filed his final version of the bill (SB159) and we expect it to be sent to the Senate Elections Committee for a possible hearing. Attached please find the final version of the bill: SB 159 (Redistricting).
The first steps in moving this legislation along the path to passage are 1) Keeping Sen. Ruckelshaus focused on pushing for a hearing in the Senate Elections Committee. 2) Encouraging Sen. Elections Chairmen Greg Walker ( District 41-R) to give the bill a hearing. Sen. Ruckelshaus has a number of bills he is offering this session so we must encourage him to prioritize SB159. Sen. Ruckelshaus has repeatedly stated that Redistricting Reform matters to him and his constituents. Sen. Walker has been non-committal as to whether he supports SB159 and whether it should be given a hearing. Please use the contact information below to contact these lawmakers and help us get this important legislation a hearing. It is also never too early to write, call or email other lawmakers asking for their support for Redistricting Reform. If your lawmakers already support SB159 reach out to them as well. Please ask them to commit to making passage of SB159 a legislative priority of theirs this session.
IFCL met with other organizations and individuals who are promoting redistricting reform at the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday, November 21. The groups had a rally and press conference as part of organization day for the 2018 legislative session.
Dr. Bill Chapman, IFCL Lobbyist, was one of the speakers at the rally.
To emphasize the bipartisan effort toward redistricting a press conference included members of both parties including John Mutz, former state representative, senator and Lieutenant Governor of Indiana.
Support for redistricting is growing, but state lawmakers need to hear from their constituents who care about this issue. Citizens can find contacts for their legislators on the home page of the Indiana General Assembly website on the “Find Your Legislator” button or the link below. https://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/
Redistricting Rally and Press Conference was last modified: December 30th, 2017 by admin
Representatives from Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation participated in a town hall style event with Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-District 27, and students at Earlham College Friday, October 27.
Senator Raatz and IFCL lobbyist Dr. Bill Chapman led discussion of a number of topics including education, voter registration, redistricting, alcohol sales, the opioid crisis, student First Amendment issues and citizen engagement for 90 minutes. Both Sen. Raatz and Dr. Chapman emphasized the importance of building positive relationships between lawmakers and citizens.
More than 1200 bills were introduced at the beginning of the 2017 legislative session. Sen. Raatz said information from constituents is welcome as he studies each bill.
Dr. Chapman explained that IFCL focuses on traditional Quaker values and issues as the policy committee reviews new bills to follow.
Other IFCL members described experiences at the legislature and encouraged students to become engaged citizens and discover the satisfaction of participation in government.
IFCL Earlham College Town Hall was last modified: November 9th, 2017 by admin
The Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation was honored at the Indiana High School Press Association’s annual fall convention Friday, Oct. 20, for support of a First Amendment bill for student journalists. Dr. Bill Chapman, IFCL lobbyist, accepted the award on behalf of the organization’s effort during the 2017 legislative session.
New Voices legislation speaks to the Quaker belief in “truth to power.” Some high schools throughout the country promote strong journalism programs and encourage students to report about important issues that relate to teenagers.
But some administrators control potentially controversial coverage, a practice that has prompted some states to pass specific legislation to ensure that students attending public high schools can report about relevant topics. Illinois passed a similar bill year.
IHSPA also honored Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany and Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, the New Voices bill sponsors.
Steve Key, general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, also was recognized at the Friday convention. Key was awarded the Ingelhart several years ago and continues to work for IHSPA issues on multiple levels.
The Indiana High School Press Association has supported student journalism since the organization was founded at Franklin College in 1922. The group’s “Friend of Journalism” award was named after Dr. Louis Ingelhart, a nationally recognized advocate for student press throughout his career at Ball State University.
Representatives Clere and DeLaney plan to work with students for similar legislation during the 2018 session.
Those with questions about the legislation are welcome to contact IFCL for more information.
IFCL honored at the Indiana High School Press Association’s annual fall convention was last modified: October 23rd, 2017 by admin
IFCL has shared information and its redistricting displays at additional events since Western Yearly Meeting.
The first was a presentation at Fairfield Friends Meeting August 27, and the second was a public forum on redistricting reform presented by The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting at Franklin College September 19.
Both events were well-attended. Although coordinators of the Franklin forum expected 75 to attend, they were thrilled when the number approached 200 and required more chairs to be set up.
The forum included speakers Paul Helmke (Professor, IU Bloomington School of Public Environmental Affairs, former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne and former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors), Luis Fuentes-Rohwer (Professor, IU Bloomington School of Law, with teaching and research interests in voting and redistricting legislation including gerrymandering cases) and Julia Vaughn (Policy Director, Common Cause Indiana).
State Senator Greg Walker R-District 41 also attended the Franklin event. Following the three presentations discussion focused on the need for redistricting and the importance of public pressure to encourage Indiana lawmakers to address redistricting legislation. Senator Walker agreed to continue to study the data and information regarding redistricting issues and to listen to those who had views about it.
Anyone interested in planning similar events for their communities should contact IFCL members who will help make connections with people who could help provide valuable information and promote group interaction about an important bipartisan topic that affects all Hoosiers.
Redistricting News was last modified: October 4th, 2017 by admin
The Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation took the opportunity to talk about Indiana’s redistricting issue at the Friday evening outdoor fellowship festival at Western Yearly Meeting, July 28, 2017.
Large acrylic maps of the state showed the division of districts for the Indiana Senate and House, and a puzzle map had pieces in the shapes of the U.S. Congressional Districts.
Discussion with those who visited the display focused on the issue of redistricting and the need for more citizen engagement in state government.
Several people said they had concluded it didn’t matter whether they voted in their districts because the districts were heavily weighted for one party or the other. (As many as 44 of the 100 districts for state representatives go uncontested because of the unequal division of the parties in those districts.) Because that scenario discourages equal representation and little discussion during election years when there aren’t two candidates, IFCL hopes to encourage legislators to support independent redistricting reform. Citizens are encouraged to weigh in on this topic with their legislators.
It is easy to contact legislators on the Indiana General Assembly website: iga.in.gov
Join us for a FREE concert sponsored by Indiana Friends Commitee on Legislation at Western Yearly Meeting/Plainfield Friends Meeting 203 S East St, Plainfield, IN 46168 (317) 839-2789
Tim Grimm is a bit of a Rennaisance man in the performing arts world. He has for the past 15 years, blended his love for songwriting, travel, and the storytelling of acting (theatre, film and television). His most recent recording, THE TURNING POINT, produced the #1 song on Folk radio in 2014– KING OF THE FOLKSINGERS. It was a particularly gratifying honor, given the song is a tribute to Tim’s friend and musical icon, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Tim’s history with Ramblin’ Jack goes back 30 years– beginning with a bicycle ride that led to The Newport Folk Festival…. Tim contributing liner notes to Jack’s Grammy winning album, The South Coast (1995)… Jack’s recording Buffalo Skinners with Tim on Tim’s album, Coyote’s Dream (2003)….and now, most recently KING OF THE FOLKSINGERS.
Tim Grimm FREE Concert was last modified: July 2nd, 2017 by admin
Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation
1723 Ramsey Lane Plainfield, IN 46168