This is SO disturbing!
Student survey: First Amendment goes too far
09:20 AM PST on Tuesday, February 1, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The way many high-school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.
It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high-school attitudes released yesterday.
The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.
Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high-school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.
"These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous," said Hodding Carter III of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the $1 million study's sponsor. "Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation's future."
The students are even more restrictive in their views than their elders, the study says. When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97 percent of teachers and 99 percent of school principals said yes. Only 83 percent of students did.
The results reflected indifference, with nearly three in four students saying they took the First Amendment for granted or didn't know how they felt about it. It was also clear that many students do not understand what is protected by the Bill of Rights.
Three in four students said flag burning is illegal. It's not. About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It can't.
"Schools don't do enough to teach the First Amendment," Linda Puntney of the Journalism Education Association said in the report.
The University of Connecticut survey is billed as the largest of its kind. More than 100,000 students, nearly 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators at 544 public and private high schools took part in early 2004. Meanwhile, a separate survey of college freshmen said more new college students are expecting to take on jobs, borrow at least $10,000 for their first year and receive that much from their families. UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, which has been surveying freshmen annually for 39 years, also found a record number of students defining themselves as "far right" or "far left" politically and a record low calling themselves "middle of the road." Fewer than ever believe racial discrimination is a problem.
A record 47.2 percent of the 289,000 freshmen who started college last year said there is a good chance they will get a job to help pay for college, with 53.3 percent of women and 39.6 percent of men saying they would need to find work.
The 29.5 percent expecting more than $10,000 in family support was the highest figure since the question was first asked in 2001. The percentage expecting to borrow more than $10,000 their first year rose to 8.8 percent from 7.8 percent last year and 5.6 percent in 2001. However, only 13 percent reported "major" concerns about paying for college, compared to a record high of 19.1 percent in 1995.
The survey also found more students than ever viewing themselves as at political extremes, with 3.4 percent calling themselves "far left" and 2.2 percent "far right."
The percentage of students identifying themselves as liberal (26.1 percent) or conservative (21.9 percent) also rose from last year. The category "middle of the road" remained the most common at 46.4 percent, but declined 4 percentage points from a year ago to its lowest level in 30 years.
The survey also found a record 22.7 percent of freshmen believe racial discrimination is no longer a problem in America, but the number reporting they frequently socialized with members of other racial or ethnic groups in high school fell slightly, as it has since 2001, to 67.8 percent.