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Backward Step

January 24, 1988

I was the adviser for Grossmont High School's Foothill Echoes five years from 1971-1976. At least twice, journalism students there called attention to problems embarrassing to the school district and helped get those problems solved.

Substandard bathroom conditions (no partitions between stalls, no toilet seats, overcrowding) were exposed in the school paper with photos, news articles and student comments. The editorial in that issue won the writer second place in a national journalism contest. The bathrooms were repaired and cleaned up.

Sloppy teaching was the subject of a controversial editorial that challenged the state's tenure law. A poor teacher was selected as an example of one protected by tenure. This teacher wore slippers to class, permitted answers to tests to be written on desk tops, and spent a good part of the teaching period in the faculty lounge next door drinking coffee. Subsequently, the department chairman came to me requesting a copy of the editorial, which he planned to use in that teacher's evaluation.

In both cases, the impetus for correcting the wrongs came from the students. If the recent Supreme Court decision had been in effect then, it is likely that these articles would have been censored and the problems unsolved.

The recent Supreme Court decision will weaken critical thinking skills, reduce vigorous discussion of both sides of issues, and diminish discussion of fundamental issues on high school campuses. It is a step backward!

MARION BENCH

Valhalla High School

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