Free Student Press founder Damon Krane believes First Amendment education is the key to students developing the communication, critical thinking, and grassroots organizing skills needed to advance American democracy.
Atlanta, GA – July 10, 2015 – Free Student Press is an initiative created by journalist and community organizer Damon Krane and others who first battled illegal censorship as high school students. Free Student Press intends to make public high school students aware of their little-known legal rights to distribute at school uncensored, independent, student-produced publications and to support students in the struggle to make their voices heard.
Krane piloted FSP successfully in six school districts in southeast Ohio from 1999 through 2006 in association with the Institute for Democracy in Education. His feature length film “Free Student Press: Student Publishing, Empowering Education and Democracy,” produced for the Kickstarter campaign, documents school officials and local police in one of these districts going to extreme lengths to try to silence student journalists. The confrontation resulted in victory for the students and the school principal’s resignation.
Violations of student press rights are widespread in American public schools. The Commission of Inquiry into High School Journalism first drew that conclusion in its landmark 1974 report Captive Voices. Ever since, evidence has continued to pile up.
“In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism,” the U.S. Supreme Court famously ruled in the 1969 case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. Yet with each passing year, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Student Press Law Center have logged more reports of illegal censorship.
But according to Krane, such cases of censorship indicate a much larger problem.
“What separates public schools from Congress, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the police force is that public schools aren’t just prohibited from violating Americans’ constitutional rights – public schools are the very mechanism through which we’re supposed to teach Americans those rights,” he said.
“Reported cases of censorship indicate hostility to student press rights. But what about students not exercising rights they haven’t been taught exist, and students not reporting illegal censorship because they don’t know it’s illegal?” he asked. “Reported cases of censorship are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Beginning this fall, Krane plans to launch FSP in several towns in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. Teams of college student activist-volunteers will be developed in all towns to assist him. Krane will then write a book about this new phase of FSP, intended to convince national organizations and major funders to expand FSP across the country.
To cover initial project expenses, Krane has launched a Kickstarter campaign. The effort will be funded only if at least $25,000 is pledged by August 24, 2015.
To learn more about the FSP Kickstarter campaign, please visit http://kck.st/1D2NRLY
About Damon Krane: Damon Krane is a journalist, grassroots organizer, educator, and artist. He founded a public access independent student publication at his high school in defiance of school officials in 1996. In 1998, he co-founded Free Student Press and worked with high school student publishers in southeast Ohio from 1999 through 2006. In 2003, he co-founded Ohio University student magazine The InterActivist, which is still published today. From 2005 through 2008, Krane edited The InterActivist and developed a unique democratic governance structure to maximize skill development of over 80 young progressive journalists. He blogs at http://damonkrane.com