Letter: Student says school censors school newspaper
To the Editor:
I am the former editor of the Express, the Basehor-Linwood High School newspaper. Under my supervision, the staff was highly successful. We were awarded second place overall in state competition last year and the newspaper was awarded the All-Kansas distinction. The yearbook, the Bobcat, was also very successful, as it evolved to a great publication with many members of the community commenting on its professionalism.
The Express and the Bobcat were both censored by the school administration last year, and they continue to be this year. Kansas is one of the few states that allow total free press to student publications. One issue of the newspaper last year was totally censored, as the student body did not even get to see it. Much of the content that went into the yearbook had to be reviewed by principal Bill Hatfield. Tell me, is this what free press is?
As the editor, the newspaper under my direction was threatened many times to be cut totally from the curriculum, and the former advisor's job was threatened many times. Many will not that she is not back this year; the current advisor in the fifth in six years.
A successful program at a growing high school is treated like they are promoting evil, whereas we really just want to give the students something that would be interesting to read. If we are not allowed to test authority by writing about controversial issues, then how are we going to form our opinions on the subjects?
This year, I return from college on the weekends to hear horror stories from my friends who are now seniors. The two editors of the newspaper are being harassed by the superintendent, principal and the director of personnel; this is just not right. They were threatened that if a retraction to a story printed about lack of journalism funds was not printed, that the newspaper would be shut down. They contended that the story made the district look bad. Excuse me, that was the intention of it. If things are not right, it is the job of the editorial department to voice those opinions and bring them to the surface.
It is sad that such a successful program is threatened by closed minds that are needlessly worried about their image. It is time to put a stop to the administration in the Basehor-Linwood school district breaking laws and oppressing talented students.