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Frank LoMonte
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Frank LoMonte

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Just wrapped up an electrifying week barnstorming across the West with Mary Beth Tinker in the Tinker Tour van. The adventure continues online at www.tinkertourusa.org. Follow along, and support the Tinker Tour with your tax-deductible donation at http://www.splc.org/support/partners.asp.
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Frank LoMonte

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Such a refreshing change in access to municipal code, in great contrast to not-so-long-ago when it took hiring an attorney to get access to machine readable muni code (or statutes).  Congrats on the launch of DC Decoded.
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FERPA is a good idea gone horribly wrong. The federal government's attempt to protect students' academic privacy produced a botched statute that has become the catch-all excuse whenever schools and colleges want to keep information hidden, even statistics about school violence or records of college athletic scandals. One South Georgia school district went "above and beyond" in 2013, and earned the distinction, "FERPA Fib of the Year" from the Student Press Law Center, for making a bereaved family go to court to obtain surveillance video that might shed light on their son's mysterious death in the school gym. Read about all the Fibber Finalists on SPLC's FERPA Fact blog.
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Frank LoMonte

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Instead of asking ourselves how much more punishment we can pile onto kids for online cruelty and how much more authority we can give schools over their online lives, we should be asking this: What causes young people by the thousands to frequent a website, Ask.FM, that is essentially sticking out your chin and asking people to punch you -- and to keep coming back even after the first punch? Sites like this might as well be called "Bully-me-dot-com," yet they are wildly popular. We need positive, affirming activities for kids (and positive, affirmative parenting) so they don't base their sense of self-worth on what's posted about them by, potentially, complete strangers. And we need far more easily accessible mental-health care that young people are welcomed to use if they are hurting. That -- and not throwing out the First Amendment and unleashing the "zero tolerance police" to patrol social media -- is an educationally sound response.
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A message from one of America's leading journalism educators, who has managed to successfully teach WITHOUT the heavy-handed censorship authority conferred by the Supreme Court in Hazelwood: if you are appalled by censorship in China and Iran, then let's reclaim the moral high ground by fixing the problem in our own schools. Check out curehazelwood.org to find out how you can help.
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What's happening to high school students in Sheridan, Arkansas, unmistakably is bullying as the dictionary has always defined it: A person wrongfully using power to make a weaker person feel helpless. But because the bullying is done by a superintendent with a rulebook and not a student with a Facebook page, it carries the stamp of legitimacy. Let's let Superintendent Brenda Haynes and the Sheridan school board know that school bullying is always wrong, and especially when the bullies are those claiming the legitimacy of government authority.
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Are colleges overstepping the First Amendment in regulating their athletes' online lives? The SPLC and journalism students from the University of Maryland collaborated on a public-records audit and examined the policies of 59 major public colleges in a report released as part of Sunshine Week 2014. The two-part package of stories is available for free republication under a Creative Commons license.
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Frank LoMonte

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Last fall, the Tinker Tour barnstormed nearly 16,000 miles across 19 eastern states, bringing optimism and empowerment to young people desperately in need of both. The job is unfinished and the journey is incomplete. Help give Mary Beth and Mike a lift to bring their magical freedom bus to the rest of America, teaching young people they can be a powerful force for positive social change if they use their voices and cherish their rights. We need your tax-deductible donation, TODAY, to help build more civically minded schools that welcome discussion of issues of social and political importance.
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Frank LoMonte

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As frictionless access to the Web "democratized" publishing, it became fashionable for commentators to denigrate experienced journalists as "arrogant" for thinking that they were better at selecting news than any other citizen. The results of this social experiment are in. It turns out that people who are deeply invested in creating news -- who attend City Hall meetings, cultivate Capitol sources, ride the beat with cops -- really do serve a more nutritious "news diet" than do aggregators fishing for clicks.
Part of journalism has always been about making civically responsible news judgments with the goal of steering public attention toward problems that need solving. That sense of civic responsibility is missing from the DNA of an organization that claims to be in the business of "feeding your buzz." It is no more "arrogant" for a journalist to claim expertise at selecting news stories than it is for a mechanic to claim he can fix your car more proficiently than you can. News judgment is an expertise. When society started believing otherwise is when the bottom fell out of the journalism economy. 
We are in a perilous era of journalism without conscience. I have no wish to check into a hospital, or board an airplane, run by people who operate without a moral grounding in the consequences of their actions. I do not wish to get my news there, either.
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It's unfortunate that people are leaving law school with six figures of debt in an unforgiving job market, but eliminating a year of legal education isn't the answer. The legal profession is afflicted with any number of problems, but excessively well-trained lawyers is not among them. Reducing the law degree to the equivalent of an M.A. will diminish the stature of the degree and of the profession, and will only exacerbate the oversupply of job-seekers in a glutted market. If law school is too expensive, one easy place to look for cuts is the elite class of "prestige professors" making six-figure salaries to teach one seminar a year while writing books, appearing on talk shows and lending their famous names to their institutions. Because so many students have locked up an offer of full-time employment, they have come to view the third year of law school as a needless impediment between them and the profession. Instead, we could make the third year into a more meaningful experience by, for example, making sure that every graduate leaves with literacy in technology, finance, business management and other essential law-practice skills, while doing mandatory public-service practicum work to serve those in need (immigration court would be an excellent place to start). 
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Have him in circles
196 people
Karen Swortzel's profile photo
Susan Tantillo's profile photo
Precious Green's profile photo
Jake Palenske's profile photo
Stan Zoller's profile photo
Anna Johnson's profile photo
Michele Boyet's profile photo
Megan Fromm's profile photo
Tara Puckey's profile photo
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Executive Director
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First Amendment lawyer in Arlington, Va.
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I run a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating young people about media law and the First Amendment.
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