Twitter and Student Free Speech
An 18-year old Kansas high-school senior attended a field trip with her Youth in Government program. She posted a tweet disparaging of Governor Sam Brownback and containing off-color language to her 65 followers. The governor’s staff noticed the tweet in the course of their regular monitoring of social media, and contacted the Youth in Government program. The student’s principal told her she would have to write a letter of apology to the governor; she refused. (Shawnee Mission School District later said she would not be required to write an apology.) The governor’s office later apologized for overreacting. This eLesson explores the First Amendment implications of these events.
First Amendment Freedom of Speech—the Bill of Rights Institute
Kansas gov. says staff overreacted to teen's tweet—Associated Press
Teen tweeter 1, Kansas governor 0—LA Times
Kansas High School Student Punished For Sam Brownback Tweet—NBC Action News
How does this situation compare to other public school-based First Amendment controversies? Create a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the types of student speech and school responses with those in Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) and Morse v. Frederick (2006).
Regardless of their view on the propriety of this particular tweet, have students participate in Free To Tweet, celebrating freedom of speech in the United States.
Do you understand why the rule of law is important for maintaining free society? This short, engaging video on the constitutional principle of the rule of law. Exciting visuals from current events, a historical narrative, scholar interviews, and quotes will make this 8-minute video perfect for use with students!