Red Tide, Vol. 3, No. 1 [Issue #11]
FIGHT THE BOARD RULES
[By Michael Letwin]
On Thursday, the 6th of September, the Board of Education in L.A. passed Board Rule 1268, which severely restricts the right of students and teachers to hear speakers of their choice on campus. These rules leave up to the principal to determine whether the subject has “educational value” and whether the speaker is “competent.”
The rule applies to three categories of speakers: those who address classes, clubs or assemblies.
These rules were passed in response to the incident last year in which Jane Fonda denounced the War in S.E. Asia at University High, after students fought a long hard fight against the Administration and the Board to hear her.
Now the Board wants to make sure that speakers who they do not “approve” of cannot speak again on campus, regardless of the wishes and of both students and teachers to hear every and any speaker that they wish.
“NOTHING HORRIBLE” SEEN
Board member Dr. Newman didn’t “see anything horrible” about the measure and called it a necessary rule tightening to help the administration.
Richard Ferraro (another Board member) defended the measure throughout the meeting, stating that a principal is responsible by law for what happens on campus, and should therefore have a degree of control. He pointed out that a principal could, for example, after the criteria are met, prevent the appearance of a speaker known to voice “untruths”, such as “marijuana is not harmful.”
The rules also state that a principal’s regulations on speakers “need not be limited to” the criteria already cited. After the criteria are met, the principal may grant permission to speak, the rule reads.
SUPPORTED BY ASB PRESIDENT
Not surprisingly, the Board’s only student member (who was non-voting), Mike Parlie, ASB president of El Camino Real Hi, supported the action, and justified this by saying that if anything goes wrong “the principal will get the axe.” This is typical of “student leaders” who kiss up to administrators in order to win their favor.
BOTH SIDES EXCUSE
Why is it that the Board feels so strongly about restricting certain types of speakers from campus? The Superintendent of Schools Johnston claimed on Wednesday the 12th of September, at a meeting at the Board of Education, that the rules were there only to insure that “both sides of any issue are heard.”
If this were so, the rules would say just that, that both sides of any issue should be guaranteed the right to be heard. Instead the the rules set up all kinds of restrictions on the type of subject and speaker that can be heard.
This claim of “both sides” in itself is ludicrous, as any quick examination of a school textbook will reveal that, on any issue you can think of, the book will defend the views of the government and of the status quo (see the article on school texts in this issue).
FREE AND OPEN WHAT?
Of course, included both the old guidelines and in the new ones is this statement of “caution.” “Care should be exercised to avoid extending invitations to speakers whose aim is to destroy the very institutions which give them the protection of free and open expression.”
These rules can only be fought by example, and for this reason we intend to line up a series of speakers to discuss such subjects as Watergate, U.S. involvement in Chile, African Liberation, The Equal Rights Amendment, and many other topics that are relevant to all of us. It is the job of all who believe in real democracy to help in this fight.
Copies of Rule 1268 can be obtained either from the Board or from the RED TIDE. We can also be contacted about getting speakers for your campus.
[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]