High school accused of censorship as officials tear yearbook pages from news
The theme for Bigelow High School’s 2020 – 2021 yearbook was The Roaring 20s. But it appears Arkansas school officials wanted the student record of the events of the tumultuous year to be a little less of a roar and more of a meow.
Before delivering the memorabilia to students earlier this month, school administrators tore off a two-page page outlining a timeline of the events of the school year. Some strengths and weaknesses include the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, former President Donald Trump’s claims of a rigged election, the January 6 insurgency and the outbreak of the COVID-19.
It is not known exactly who was behind the decision to remove the pages from the student-designed yearbook, but East End School District Superintendent Heidi Wilson justified the decision by citing a ” community reaction “.
Wilson did not respond to NPR’s requests for comment.
Meanwhile, some students and parents say it’s censorship.
Madison Johnston was among the class that produced the yearbook and was disappointed when she began hearing other students talk about the changes after “a group of parents complained that it was biased.”
The class had been diligent in their reports, checking the broadcast three times and getting it before it was printed, she told Fox 16.
“They censor something that is fact,” said Johnston.
The Student Press Law Center, a national organization that defends the press freedom rights of high school and college journalists, is calling on the superintendent to reprint and distribute the pages that were torn off. In a letter to Wilson, SPLC executive director Hadar Harris urged the superintendent to apologize to students, parents and the directory staff advisor who resigned over the controversy.
“We’re very concerned about making sure they take the problem seriously in terms of what they’ve been doing,” Harris told NPR.
“They ripped out the pages of the yearbook with no clear educational purpose and based on what they said was a community reaction. We see no evidence of this community reaction,” she said. stated, noting that Wilson did not respond to SPLC’s requests.
A request for an access to information file by the Arkansas weather because any evidence related to the so-called community reaction has gone nowhere, according to the newspaper.
“When asked if there had been any emails, or maybe a public meeting where people shared their opposition to the calendar, Wilson simply replied ‘no’ in an email and didn’t not responded to further inquiries, “the newspaper reported earlier this week.
In an interview with the Arkansas Press Association Publisher Weekly, Megan Clark Walton, who is the former directory counselor and also a former reporter, said she felt “a little burned” by what had happened at Bigelow High School.
No one apologized to her “because district officials don’t think they did anything wrong,” according to the outlet.
Reflecting on her time as a yearbook counselor and journalism teacher at the school, Walton said, “This was my favorite class to teach, and I was able to open children’s eyes to the world around them. . Bigelow is such a small, small community, and journalism has taught them to look at the world objectively, which I think doesn’t give them much time at home. ”
Copyright 2021 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.