Pubdate: Mon, 08 Aug 2005
Source: Athens News, The (OH)
Copyright: 2005, Athens News
Author: Jessica L. Smith
Bookmark: (Students - United States)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


This letter is written in response to the "Students Should Quit Their 
Whining About Alex Drug Testing" letter in the July 28 edition of The 
Athens NEWS.

While you are a student of public schools, the school DOES NOT own you or 
your "little feet." Getting an education isn't just about books and grades. 
We are also learning how to participate fully in the life of our nation. In 
order to participate, we need to know our rights or we might lose them.

The highest law in America is the Constitution. The Bill of Rights applies 
to young people as well as adults, and the First Amendment guarantees our 
right to free expression and association. In a nutshell, the government 
doesn't have the right to forbid us from saying and writing what we like.

In 1969's Tinker vs. Des Moines Co. Schools the Supreme Court ruled that 
students in public schools do not leave their rights at the schoolhouse 
gate. Students can express their opinions orally and in writing. You can 
create leaflets, buttons, armbands, t-shirts, petitions and brochures.

Keep in mind that you can express your opinions in a way that doesn't 
materially or substantially disrupt school activities. If you block 
entrance to the school, officials can stop you. The school can place 
reasonable limits on time, place and manner of distribution but they may 
not sponsor only one side of a controversy. If they allow an article in the 
school newspaper for the drug policy, they cannot refuse to run one against 
it. They can stop you from using language that is vulgar or indecent, so 
watch the dirty words, OK?

This next comment is directed toward the parents of the kids labeled 
"Whiney Little Peons." Have your children read this letter so they can know 
that they too have rights. I'm not going to voice my opinion on the 
drug-testing policy right now because it is apparent that there are larger 
problems in our school systems. Problems like class presidents, let alone 
the average student, not knowing that they have rights. If the schools are 
going to teach students about the Constitution and leave out the part that 
it doesn't just pertain to those who have hit the 18-year mark, it's your 
job as a parent to do so.

Jessica L. Smith

2005 graduate

Alexander High School
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