Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] First Amendment Schools

From: Woty <>
Date: Mon Nov 13 17:25:01 2006

Freedom of speech is pretty meaningless without freedom of action.


On Nov 13, 2006, at 14:27, David Rovner wrote:

> First Amendment Schools
> The Challenge
> First Amendment Schools are built on the conviction that the five
> freedoms protected by the First Amendment are a cornerstone of
> American democracy and essential for citizenship in a diverse society.
> For more than 200 years, the First Amendment has been at the heart
> of history's boldest and most successful experiment in liberty. We
> readily acknowledge that the United States failed to live up to its
> founding principles in 1791, and that the nation still has a
> distance to go in the 21st century. But the history of our nation
> is the story of the ongoing struggle to extend the promise of
> freedom more fully and fairly to each and every citizen.
> Today the need to sustain and expand our experiment in liberty is
> made more urgent by the challenge of living with our deepest
> differences in a diverse and complex society. The need to commit
> ourselves as a people to the rights and responsibilities that flow
> from the First Amendment has never been more vital - or more
> difficult. At a time in our history when we most need to reaffirm
> what we share as citizens across our differences, the ignorance and
> contention now surrounding the First Amendment threaten to divide
> the nation and undermine our freedom.
> The key place to address this challenge is in our schools - the
> institutions most responsible for transmitting civic principles and
> virtues to each succeeding generation. 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. The rights and responsibilities of the First Amendment
> provide a much-needed civic framework for reaffirming and renewing
> the civic aims of education.
> Guiding Principles
> We envision First Amendment Schools as places where all members of
> the school community practice the civic habits of the heart
> necessary to sustain a free people that would remain free. Schools
> may carry out this mission in ways that vary greatly, depending on
> the age of the students, the size of the school, the needs of the
> local community, and whether the school is public or private. What
> unites First Amendment Schools is not one view of democratic
> education or the First Amendment, but rather an abiding commitment
> to teach and model the rights and responsibilities that undergird
> the First Amendment.
> We propose the following four principles as foundational for
> creating and sustaining a First Amendment School:
> I. Create Laboratories of Democratic Freedom
> The future of the American Republic depends upon instilling in
> young citizens an abiding commitment to the democratic first
> principles that sustain our experiment in liberty.
> First Amendment Schools educate for freedom by providing students
> and all members of the school community with substantial
> opportunities to practice democracy. Knowledge of our framing
> documents and the structure and functions of government is
> important, but preparation for citizenship also requires virtues
> and skills acquired through participation in decision-making. By
> practicing democracy students confront the challenges of self-
> government, including the difficult task of balancing a commitment
> to individual rights with a concern for the common good.
> First Amendment Schools create organizational structures, allocate
> time and resources, and develop policies and curricula designed to
> support and promote democratic learning communities. Pedagogical
> decisions, including instructional and assessment practices, extend
> opportunities for authentic learning that inform a citizen's
> understanding of the world beyond the classroom.
> First Amendment Schools include administrators, teachers, staff,
> students, parents, and community members when making decisions
> about organization, governance, and curricula. When everyone is
> given a meaningful voice in shaping the life of the school, all
> have a real stake in creating and sustaining safe and caring
> learning communities. All members of the school community should
> have opportunities to exercise leadership, negotiate differences,
> propose solutions to shared problems, and practice other skills
> essential to thoughtful and effective participation in civic life.
> II. Commit to Inalienable Rights and Civic Responsibility
> Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition are
> fundamental and inalienable rights. All Americans have a civic
> responsibility to guard these rights for every citizen.
> First Amendment Schools are dedicated to educating for citizenship
> by teaching and modeling the democratic principles of the
> Constitution of the United States. Schools take this mission
> seriously by providing all members of the school community with
> daily opportunities to exercise their constitutional rights with
> responsibility.
> First Amendment Schools uphold the principles of freedom and
> democracy when they protect religious liberty rights, encourage
> freedom of expression, promote academic freedom, ensure a free
> student press, and support broad-based involvement in school
> governance. Acting responsibly, students, teachers, administrators,
> staff, parents, and community members can do much to uphold the
> rights of every citizen.
> III. Include all Stakeholders
> The First Amendment provides the civic framework of rights and
> responsibilities that enables Americans to work together for the
> common good in schools and communities.
> First Amendment Schools affirm the importance of modeling the
> democratic process and upholding individual rights in the
> development of policies and curricula. Decisions are made after
> appropriate involvement of those affected by the decision and with
> due consideration for the rights of those holding dissenting views.
> First Amendment Schools recognize that parents have the primary
> responsibility for the upbringing and education of their children.
> All Americans, however, share an important stake in educating
> students for responsible citizenship in a free society. Students
> and schools benefit greatly when parents, students, educators, and
> community members work closely together to promote a shared vision
> of the First Amendment throughout the school culture and across the
> community.
> IV. Translate Civic Education into Community Engagement
> A society committed to freedom and justice for all requires
> citizens with the knowledge, virtues, and skills needed for active
> engagement in public life.
> First Amendment Schools encourage active citizenship by giving
> students opportunities to translate civic education into community
> engagement. Active citizens are willing to participate in public
> life by addressing problems and issues in their communities, our
> nation, and the world.
> First Amendment Schools provide opportunities for students to learn
> civic virtue and moral character throughout the school culture and
> across the curriculum. Students are encouraged to demonstrate an
> active concern for the welfare of others through service learning
> and civic problem-solving. First Amendment rights are best guarded
> and civic responsibilities best exercised when citizens are
> actively engaged in building a more just and free society.
> A Shared Vision
> These guiding principles are offered as a shared vision for schools
> seeking to fulfill the promise of freedom under the First Amendment.
> Learning about freedom and justice, however important, can never be
> enough; educating for democratic citizenship must be more than an
> academic exercise. If we are to sustain and expand the American
> experiment in liberty, young citizens must acquire the civic skills
> and virtues needed to exercise their freedom with responsibility.
> We invite all schools and every citizen to join us in affirming
> these principles and putting them into action. The time has come
> for all Americans to work together to renew our shared commitment
> to the civic principles and virtues vital to democracy, freedom,
> and the common good.
Received on Mon Nov 13 2006 - 17:24:16 EST

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