National Council of Teachers of English

Resolution on Students’ Freedom of Speech and Press

1989 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland


The NCTE members proposing this resolution cited court actions reducing students’ rights to free speech and free press. They noted the Hazelwood decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school administrators may censor student newspapers, magazines, and performances on grounds of “legitimate pedagogical concerns.” The proposers pointed out that this decision allows state laws to take precedence over the Supreme Court ruling, thus creating an opportunity for proponents of free speech to defend students’ rights. Be it therefore


Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English urge state legislators, state departments of education, and local school districts to promote legislation protecting the rights of students in their exercise of freedom of speech and press;

that NCTE urge and assist its affiliates to promote legislation ensuring these rights; and

that NCTE urge all local communities and schools to ensure these rights.

This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.