Student Rights and Responsibilities
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969)
In 1965, a group of students and adults had a meeting to decide to announce their objections to the Vietnam War and supported a truce by wearing black armbands. Before the students wore the armbands, the principals met and adopted a policy “that any student wearing an armband to school would be asked to remove it, and, if he refused, he would be suspended until he returned without the armband.” The students were aware of the policy and wore the armbands anyway. The students were suspended and wanted minor compensations and a ruling against the school of banning the wearing of armbands. The District Court dismissed the complaint in favor of the school. The decision was appealed and ultimately the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the students.
This case is important because it protected the constitutional rights of students. The Supreme Court decision stated: “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” This statement expresses that students still keep their constitutional freedoms even when they enter the schoolhouse doors.
The lower courts have not been consistent with their rulings on freedom of speech. Some cases have protected the student’s right, while others have been in favor of schools regulating expression. More cases have ruled in favor of the school and not the student.
The main belief in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District is that in order for school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, they need proof that the speech would “substantially interfere with the work of the school or impinge upon the rights of other students.”
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District would impact my actions as teacher in establishing a democratic classroom. Creating a positive and cooperative education process for students is important in motivating students to work together as a group.
In an elementary classroom, this case would motivate me to teach students about socially appropriate behavior while in the classroom. This will lead to responsible citizens in and out of the classroom.
Diversity is promoted by this case and the teacher’s actions by teaching students to respect everyone and their differences. Each student has different cultural beliefs and values and providing a democratic environment will provide for an inclusive learning environment. This case is important in that it shows students that they can express themselves about different subject areas without being punished for having a different opinion than others.
Technology such as videos can be used as a resource for teaching about diversity and how to respect each other. Having students use computers to create Zinn projects can help start honest discussions in class about democracy and injustices that deal with freedom of speech or expression. Students can use the internet to research the case and how it affected the students involved and how it affects them now.
When using technology, students need to be aware of copyright laws when creating their projects. They should also be taught correct online conduct and to stay safe when using digital tools. There is not any technology law that directly relates to the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District case.
Benefit to Student
Teaching students to respect each other’s beliefs, values, and opinions will increase the student’s cognitive and perceptive awareness levels. Allowing students to participate in making classroom rules and applying those rules will give them the understanding of a democratic classroom.
I think it is important that students know the limitations on expressing themselves within a classroom. Teaching tolerance of others and their opinions is critical for a classroom to get along as a group will instill socially appropriate behavior within the classroom.
Resources Case #1
Teacher Professional Rights and Responsibilities
Sheehan v. St. Peter’s Catholic Sch., 188 N.W.2d 868 (Minn. 1971)
On May 6, 1966 at St. Peter’s Catholic School in Forest Lake, MN, the teacher took 20 eighth-grade girls to the ball field for recess. The girls were told to sit on a log along the third-base line of the field which was being used by the eighth-grade boys. The girls’ teacher went back into the school and did not return until after the accident had happened. Shortly after the teacher left, some of the boys began throwing pebbles at the girls. The girls complained, but the boys continued to throw pebbles for a few more minutes until Margaret Sheehan was hit in the right eye which caused her to lose sight in that eye.
In this case, the teacher did not sufficiently supervise the students which resulted in the injury. The teacher and the school district were held liable for the harm caused to the student by the teacher’s negligent. The jury was given the following instructions: “It is the duty of a school to use ordinary care and to protect its students from injury resulting from the conduct of other students…where such conduct would reasonably have been foreseen and could have been prevented…” Sheehan was given $50,000 in damages.
Sheehan v. St. Peter’s Catholic Sch. case would impact actions as a teacher to make sure I pay extra attention to the surroundings in and out of the classroom to prevent any accidents from happening. Providing proper instructions, care of equipment, and supervisor will be among the many actions I will take to keep the students safe.
I would also teach students to be aware of where they are at and what might be dangerous to them. This will hopefully keep them a little bit safer, but sometimes unforeseeable accidents do happen.
My actions would promote an inclusive learning environment by providing instructions for all students to understand, regular students as well as special education students. Making the classroom safe and mobile for all students to move safely during activities is a number one priority.
Teaching students to become aware of their surroundings and they in turn help other students will promote inclusive learning environment. Students will have to adjust for other students to make them as safe as possible and hopefully prevent any unforeseeable accident.
Students can research ways to keep classrooms and playgrounds safe. Students will create a safety book for the classroom and playground and then conduct a safety check filming their progress. A virtual classroom and playground can be made to help all students stay safe in and out of the classroom.
There isn’t any technology law related to the case, however when students are preparing safety booklets, conducting research, and filming, they should be aware of copyright laws. Permission is also needed from parents to show their students in the video they are making to protect their privacy.
Benefit to Students
Students will benefit from an organized well-run classroom that will not only keep them safe, but teach them how to keep themselves and their peers safe.
The benefit students learn from researching information about safety in their environment and creating booklets and videos is enormous. Students will pay more attention to their surroundings and watch out for harmful things around them. They will be better informed and better inform others about the dangers around them.
Resources Case #2
Teacher Personal Rights and Responsibilities
Morrison v. State Board of Education, 461 P.2d 375 (Cal. 1969)