Thursday, October 11, 2007

First Amendment Inspires More Thought

Catching up with e-mails and voice mail after a week in Washington D.C. has been exhausting. I participated in the 2006 Associated Press Managing Editors Conference as an organizer and floor manager.
I did take time to step out to visit our nation's founding documents at the National Archives and jogged around the awesome monuments near the National Mall. Spending a little time with the First Amendment is inspiring.

When Caddo Federation of Teachers and Support Personnel President Jackie Lansdale invoked the First Amendment in her commentary about School Board member Tammy Phelps' push to limit school employees sharing of information and views, the founding fathers would have been proud. Some believe the embarassing report on hot school buses is one reason the School Board wants to close ranks.

The proposal by Phelps to restrict employees' freedoms to participate in such surveys and investigations without "permission" flies in the face of what makes our country great. This "kill the messenger" approach is causing a stir.

Today's story carries perspectives
on the new communication rule. The proposal only confirms what teachers tell us: they fear reprisal for speaking out and being quoted in the news as being critics on policies or plans.

Just because the board can create a policy like this doesn't mean they should. The Caddo School Board and administration should deny this Draconian proposal.

Instead, encourage teachers and personnel to feel free to be more vocal internally without reprisal to improve education. This is the answer.

Don't dampen a freedom that ultimately serves the public good as a check on government overseeing our children.

The First Amendment is FIRST for a reason. All governoring bodies should be unafraid of criticism and a redress of grievances.

On my desk:
n Governor's race endorsement runs Sunday.
n Caddo Coroner's race offered much debate and discussion for our editorial boards. Who do you think we'll endorse?
n Another story on school system policy planned for the Sunday Times.
n Election guide being published in The Times Thursday Oct. 18. (Sample ballots will run Oct. 19 and 20.)
n C.E. Byrd High School homecoming football game (vs. Captain Shreve High School) is an opportunity to explore how sports impact our lives (story Friday). Or the more important question: Will a Gator eat a Yellow Jacket?
n Red River Moms Web site is seeking new and additional discussion leaders.
n Election night planning is under way.
n Ethics fines and the lack of teeth in ethics laws concerns continue. Will Shreveport Councilman Calvin Lester and others pay their fines?
n We wished Gannett reporter John Hill well in his retirement at a Governor's Mansion reception. Governor Kathleen Blanco attended the gathering in Baton Rouge (at right).

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