Principal Censorship of Students at Flushing High School

May 11, 2017 by

Tyree Chin, principal of Flushing High School ,(a fine institution in the throes of “renewal”) is being smeared as a violator of the First Amendment and a foe of student empowerment, because he refused to sign off on an issue of the student-run school newspaper, mostly because of the negatively-charged slant that the aspiring journalists had injected into its editorial content.

Mr. Chin was particularly piqued by an article whose thesis was that the majority of the staff does not care about its students. I don’t know whether they do or don’t, how and if it can be measured at all and whether the opinion survey was a scientific sampling. My gut feeling, informed by decades of far-flung experience is that most teachers give far more than they get in terms of dedication and recognition.

But none of this bears on the Flushing High School rights-infringement case.

Editors are the absolute arbiters of what is accepted, rejected or altered. Every published writer knows and is eventually resigned to that reality. Hemingway did. So do Woodward and Bernstein. So should the adolescent scribes of Flushing HS.

The principal let stand non-inflammatory pieces and denies that he will bar the printing of the newspaper. But first he wants to have a conference and a meeting-of-the minds with the newspaper’s faculty advisor who mistakenly protests that the cub reporters’ constitutionally-protected  freedom of speech is being abridged.

Mr. Chin should not back down but neither should he bully the teacher. If he plays into the hands of his detractors by doing so, then perhaps he deserves notoriety, although his screening of the newspaper should still be upheld.

Mr. Chin is unquestionably in charge of redacting, but ironically there is no question about his being on a learning-curve as an editor. He declaims his “legal right to senor (sic)…”  That’s two spelling errors in a five-letter word that is central to his main idea. Good think he didn’t edit Ulysses.

Not a good advertisement for leadership prowess. But, of course, that doesn’t matter either.

Ron Isaac

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