Uh, hello? Kids Have First Amendment Rights, Too!
In this video, DPS School Board President Nate Easley and DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg lead a discussion about whether to allow students to speak during public comment sessions. Seriously. They’re actually suggesting it might be wise to limit the ability of those most affected by their actions to voice their opinions about those actions.
I left this comment on DeFENSE’s website (where I found the video):
Utterly shameful. What bothers me the most about this, in addition to the blatant attempt to silence student voices they know will most likely be critical of them, is the assumption that they can tell when a kid “knows what they’re talking about” and when they don’t. I highly doubt that. Moreover, adults are never required to prove their knowledge of an issue before speaking, and we know there are plenty of adults out there who are clueless but vocal nevertheless (including school board members and district leaders…). If we start encroaching on people’s First Amendment rights because we think they’re too uninformed to exercise them well, we’re going down a really scary path. Who gets to decide if someone “knows enough” to speak their minds? And why should anyone feel empowered to silence others in that way?
It seems to me that everyone involved needs to think through the implications of what some of them are suggesting. I’d especially encourage Mr. Easley to look into the history of statements like his. It wasn’t too long ago in our history that people were making similar statements about Black folks, and women, and Latinos, and…well, everybody except people who look and live like Tom Boasberg. Not. OK.