Commentary

09.03.14

From Tinker Test to Tinker Tour

By

Mary Beth Tinker

“It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”  -Justice Abe Fortas

Mary Beth Tinker has continued to advocate for students’ First Amendment rights since she was the lead plaintiff in the 1969 landmark U.S. Supreme Court case.  Though the Tinker ruling is 45 years old, and despite certain limits to its application, it remains extremely relevant today. In recent years, three federal courts of appeal have decided that Tinker is equally applicable to students’ off-campus social media speech as to speech at school.

See Mary Beth Tinker at the OCLRE Conference, at Mortiz College of Law and in Portsmouth!

Like many educators and champions for civic and law-related education, Ms. Tinker was alarmed by the results of the recent Annenberg Public Policy Center study that indicates, among other startling statistics, only one-third of Americans can name the three branches of government and another third cannot name any.  So, along with attorney-friend Mike Hiestand, Tinker launched the Tinker Tour, “a journey across the country to promote youth voices, free speech and a free press.”

The Tinker Tour, which began in the fall of 2013, is a nationwide RV tour with a clear purpose: To bring real life civic lessons to schools and communities through Tinker’s story and those of other young people.

The Tour will stop in Ohio this September, and Ms. Tinker will present at the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education Law & Citizenship Conference on Sunday, September 21 and Monday, September 22. She will share stories from the tour and discuss how teachers and other advocates can work together to engage young people in learning – and appreciating – the rights and responsibilities provided by the Constitution.

The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose goal is to improve society by developing citizens empowered with an understanding of our democratic system. OCLRE is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ohio State Bar Association and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation.

Kate Strickland is the Deputy Director at the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education.

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