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Stupid Censorship
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January 11, 2007, 07:50 PM
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There`s a "test score gap" in a Florida school. In fact, there`s test score gap in almost all American schools.

But this one Florida principal thought he could keep it from the students—although it`s been the subject of Presidential speeches and a major national boondoggle, the No Child Left Behind act.

Via Reason.com, [Don`t Bother the Students with Facts] here`s the St. Petersburg Times story on the censorship

Hillsborough: School newspaper censored

The offending content: already-posted test data.

By LETITIA STEIN Published October 24, 2006

TAMPA - There are few issues in American education as widely discussed as the achievement gap, the racial divide that separates the academic performance of white and minority students.

But not at Hillsborough High School, where the principal pulled an article detailing the school`s achievement gap from the student newspaper.

Principal William Orr [send him mail]called the content inappropriate, even though it focused on data the federal government publicizes under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Instead of a story and chart, students found a gaping hole Monday in the Red & Black, the school newspaper.

"If it`s something that has a potential to hurt students` self-esteem, then I have an obligation not to let that happen," he said. "I don`t think it`s the job of the school newspaper to embarrass the students."

Editor-in-chief Emily Matras wrote the article, which included a chart breaking down Hillsborough High student test scores as reported on the state Education Department`s Web site. She wanted to let classmates know what the school administration was doing to address the divide, including a schoolwide reading push.

Instead, she learned this lesson:

"High school is not the real world," said Matras, a junior. She understood the decision, but doesn`t fully agree with it. "I think that we could have made a case that the story could have run, but we thought not to because we respect Dr. Orr."

Students stayed at school until 8 p.m. Friday cutting the article out of Page 3 in the October edition. It was replaced by a stapled note explaining that the administration offered to reprint the edition, but the newspaper`s staff didn`t want to delay publication.

Students were told not to talk about the article. The St. Petersburg Times contacted several after learning what happened.

"It did not condone anything immoral. It didn`t talk of drug use or pregnancy or teen violence," said Simone Kallett, the newspaper`s features editor and a sophomore. "It was a very fact-based article, and we don`t understand why it was pulled."

Orr allowed a Times reporter to read the article briefly in his office, but not to quote it.

The Red & Black`s faculty adviser, Joe Humphrey, declined to answer questions about the article when they came up around campus.

"We were told not to publish, and by word of mouth or otherwise we have not published it," he said. "Our primary goal when this happened was to still get the newspaper out."

There`s more, and you can comment at the newspaper and on Reason.com`s blog.

Censorship doesn`t help—the students who are scoring lower need to worry about homework, study, and memory drills, not self-esteem.