Taking the Battle for Free Speech to K-12

Bonnie Snyder
The Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Excerpt: It's understood by most college alumni—and pretty much everyone in the general public, at this point—that open discourse is under assault in higher education, and has been for decades. From demands that speakers with unpopular opinions be disallowed on campus to strident calls for controversial professors to be fired, free speech culture has declined precipitously in academia while the corridor of acceptable opinion has uncomfortably narrowed.

While college and graduate school-level speech censorship is widespread and well-documented, we find ourselves facing an even more alarming problem: this same restrictive culture, with its oppressive conformity demands, has already filtered down to younger students. Recent college graduates—now newly-minted teachers—are bringing these acquired academic habits and expectations to American high-, middle-, and even elementary schools. Who can estimate the damage inflicted, and the potential loss, when children are not even allowed the mental freedom to form their own positions independently?