At the age of 13 Mary Beth Tinker was told by her school administration she could not wear a black armband in protest of the Vietnam War. Tinker took this issue all the way to the Supreme Court, which resulted in students being granted more freedoms in school.
44 years later, journalist are standing up for and practicing their 1st amendment all over the country. Tinker is now educating young people about the freedom of speech and her story.
Tinker said, “I was this young kid, kind of naive, I really didn’t seem like this war protester. It was important for me to stand up for a better world. I had become a big advocate for peace. Most children are in favor of peace. Children are very affected by war; Some people say children are the most affected by war. We felt it very strongly at that time and I wanted to stand up. I didn’t know so much about the first amendment I just had this intuitive feeling that kids should have rights too.
Tinker’s actions are still being used today.
High school Journalism teacher Paul Kendall said, “We operate on the tinker standard and we have great journalism. Students are able to pursue questions that are important to them and can produce great things because of it. Every time we go to a convention, people always look at our work and say, “How can you do that? Our administration won’t allow us to do that”, but we don’t operate on a standard where administration gets to decide what we cover. We have great journalism because of it.”
The “Tinker Standard” grants students the freedom of speech. Students in schools today have freedom of speech, however if whatever the student is doing or participating in appears to be disruptive to class work then the school system get involved. The Tinker Standard ensures that no matter what, students are granted and not shortened of their constitutional rights.
Teacher, Linda Rice said, “We go to the Newseum, which is a museum dedicated to the first amendment and journalism. Students always leave there very inspired to go and practice their freedom of speech in their school newspaper.”
Journalism teachers all over the world are trying to teach students the importance of practicing the first amendment. Tinker’s tour has allowed for her to visit and talk to a multitude of journalists about things they believe are unjust and are therefore speaking up about.
Tinker said, “So many young people are standing up and speaking up about the things that are important to them. I love hearing the stories about the students who wanted to put an article in their paper over a transgendered person or write about the standardized testings. It’s a hopeful time with great crisis in society, and our world. That also means we have time to do a lot of great things in our world.”