Neshaminy Schools Close to Banning Students’ “Redskins” Ban

School board will override the decision of student editors.

The Neshaminy School Board of Directors is ready to pass a policy that would ban the student newspaper editors at Neshaminy High School from banning the use of the school’s mascot — the “Redskins” — within the paper itself. 

Advocates of that stance say the newspaper’s editors shouldn’t be able to impose their preferences on, say, students who want to write letters to the editor that include the term.

“Assuming that it’s a proper use of the word, such as a reference to the mascot, the school district does not believe, and I don’t believe the law allows, one set of students to prohibit another student from expressing himself or herself,” said Michael Levin, who serves as special counsel to the district.

Which makes the Neshaminy school board a fine defender of the term “Redskins” while being a lousy educator.

Here’s what editors do: They impose standards on their publication. Some are a matter of protecting the publication from lawsuits for libel or slander; some are simply a matter of establishing a sensibility for the publication. The editors decide on those standards, inform everybody in the organization of them, and seek to ensure that everybody applies those standards consistently and fairly. Sometimes, they even revise the standards to reflect an evolution in the aforementioned sensibility.

And sometimes, editors must stand tough and defend those standards in the face of fierce criticism.

The current crop of editors who have defended their standard have learned their lesson well, it seems,but future editors of the student newspaper won’t get that opportunity. Too bad. [Newsworks]