Free Student Press
Free Student Press
Teaching high school students across the U.S. their First Amendment rights to distribute uncensored student publications at school
Teaching high school students across the U.S. their First Amendment rights to distribute uncensored student publications at school Read more
Free Student Press delivers a proven model of empowering education through independent high school student journalism. Our concept is simple. Most public schools are extremely resistant to 1) teaching students their First Amendment rights to distribute at school uncensored, independently-produced, student publications and 2) allowing students to exercise those rights. This leaves most American teenagers ignorant of their press rights and unaware of major advocacy groups like the Student Press Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. Free Student Press not only fills this gap by reaching out to students directly in their own communities, but Free Student Press continues to work with those same students, giving them the support they need in the struggle to make their voices heard. By teaching public high school students their little-known press rights --and by using the issues these publications raise as the basis for facilitating empowering education with students outside the classroom-- Free Student Press helps students develop the communication, critical thinking, and grassroots organizing skills necessary to create a more just and democratic society.
Public K-12 schools are how our society teaches each new generation of Americans constitutional rights essential to American democracy. But when it comes to students' First Amendment press rights, our schools are failing. Most either refuse to teach these vitally important rights or feed students false information. Worse yet, many schools illegally violate students’ First Amendment press rights by banning constitutionally protected publications and punishing the students who create them. The results are bad for American students, worse for American democracy, and awful for the role the U.S. plays in the world.
Just look at the story profiled in our short video above or our feature length documentary. School administrators at one high school in southeast Ohio were so determined to destroy an independent student newspaper that they confiscated copies, lied to students about their constitutional rights and vowed to suspend everyone involved. The principal threatened to effectively revoke the valedictorian's class standing in an effort to make it more difficult for her to go to college, and he suspended another student for distributing a leaflet that criticized his actions. Meanwhile, the school's attorney falsely accused the newspaper's teenage creators of promoting violence and drug use. And it was most likely school officials who directed local police to illegally break up a lawful student meeting at a public park. Watch the videos. It’s all there.
An early FSP pamphlet for high school students
- Damon Krane's published writing on FSP & empowering education
News coverage of FSP
Past news coverage of the student publication Lockdown
- Other select writing by Damon Krane
...and a little more info about rewards:
Risks and challenges
Free Student Press is not an untested idea. With Damon Krane's leadership, from 1999 through 2005 FSP established a successful track record of working with high school student publishers in southeast Ohio. The group inspired and facilitated empowering education, and it helped students defeat illegal censorship.
When it comes to the challenges of recruiting college student volunteers, reaching out to high school students, teaching young journalists and educators, carrying out public advocacy, conducting media relations and grassroots organizing, and writing about all of this work, Krane already has the experience. (See Krane’s bio above.) While this work is always new and exciting -- never totally predictable and boring!-- it's what Krane does, and he knows how to do it well.
The main challenge facing this work is to marshal the resources necessary to bring this proven model to schools across the country. To do this, Krane needs the financial support of many people to provide seed money to cover at least 70% of first year project expenses. (That’s the $25,000 goal of this campaign.) From there he'll generate additional funds through paid university speaking engagements, fundraising events and additional donor drives, and foundation grants. (See our project budget linked above.)
While raising money is never as much fun as doing the work it pays for, it is how many like-minded people can join together and all play an essential role in making this work happen. And as a former director of a non-profit organization (as well as a journalist, organizer and advocate), Krane also has plenty of prior fundraising experience.
Finding a publisher for his book will be a new challenge. Krane’s extensive journalism work has provided him with lots of writing experience, but he has only dealt with newspapers, magazines and online journals. He has yet to deal with a publishing house. But with the advice of his friends who have, we are confident he will be able to meet this challenge as well.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)