Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 3, Number 2, Summer 2008
Free Speech in the Balance: What We Know About the Rights of Public School Teachers
Nancy C. Patterson
Bowling Green State University
Prentice T. Chandler
Athens State University
This paper presents an overview of what we have learned about the state of academic freedom in the public schools. It includes a rationale for the place of academic freedom in social studies classrooms, a perspective on the court system as recourse for teachers, and a call for action to protect our freedoms by alternative means. Based on a National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) presentation by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer Fritz Mulhauser, the paper provides a thematic summary of case law and precedent as they stand at present, including speech outside of school, classroom materials and content, classroom discussion, and expression through dress. Finally, suggestions are offered about how to exercise academic freedom successfully in the classroom.
About the Author(s)…
Nancy C. Patterson is Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. She is currently teaching secondary social studies methods and graduate research courses as well as working with a neighboring urban school district on school reform. She in a past Chair of the NCSS Academic Freedom Committee. Contact information: Bowling Green State University, 509 Education Building, Bowling Green, Ohio, 43403; phone: (419)372-7320; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prentice T. Chandler is Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education and department head at Athens State University in Athens, Alabama. He is currently teaching secondary social studies methods and foundations courses. He is Vice Chair of the NCSS Academic freedom Committee, a member of the Rouge Forum, and recipient of the 2007 NCSS Defense of Academic Freedom Award. Contact information: Athens State University, McCain Hall, Room 214, Athens, AL 35611; phone: 256-233-8262; email: email@example.com.