Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Speech at the Schoolhouse Gate

By Shawn Healy
Washington State's consideration of legislation to expand student press rights has spawned national discussion over the extent to which the First Amendment applies to students within the schoolhouse gate. USA Today ran point/ counterpoint articles on the subject in today's editions, and Gene Policinski of the First Amendment Center weighed in on proposals in both Washington and Kansas, the latter legislation creating a board of approval for student publications beyond the principal.

The McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum's current temporary exhibit, Speech at the Schoolhouse Gate: Students' Use of First Amendment Freedoms, celebrates the vibrancy of the five freedoms both inside and outside the classroom. The top ten entries in the inaugeral MTFM/ J-Ideas National Editorial Cartoon Contest are the centerpiece of the exhibit (check them out on our web site), and are complimented by the four winners of the Illinois First Amendment Center poster contest.

Also on display are award-winning entries from the DuPage County Regional Office of Education "Call to Action," an article on media censorship in Gumbo Teen Magazine, and another article on First Amendment case law as it applies to schools in Say What?, a publication by Young Chicago Authors. Finally, two student-produced documentaries complete the exhibit. "The First Amendment Through Our Eyes" was compiled by Free Spirit Media, and "Live Free" by student filmmaker Alex Capogna.

The exhibit runs through March 25th, and look for a reprise of the cartoon contest next year with expanded categories to include photo journalism, web pages, and film.

Speech clearly does not begin or end at the schoolhouse gate. Its extent inside the classroom walls is the subject of debate in Washington and Kansas. The Freedom Museum shows the fruit of such endeavors as legislators weigh in on this most pressing of matters.


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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at

Dave Anderson
Vice President of Civic Programs
McCormick Foundation

Tim McNulty
Senior Journalist
McCormick Freedom Project

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