Free speech versus censorship? (Grade 10 version)

A Vancouver Island teacher cut a boy’s photograph and comments out of the middle school yearbook before distributing the books. The problem? In the comments accompanying his photo, the Grade 10 student had criticized the principal for spending money on a fence instead of on schoolbooks. The teacher, Ken Piercy, did the censoring because he viewed the comments as “hurtful and untrue.”

After the predictable outcry, the school will be reprinting 150 yearbooks with a revised comment from the student, Brandon Armstrong. The principal has received hate mail. The boy’s mother says he didn’t mean anything by it. The boy says the comments are true and also, he thought, “kind of funny.”

Brandon’s original “favourite memory of school” was “When Ms. Carpenter spent all our money on a new fence instead of new textbooks.”

Interesting dilemma: How much censorship is appropriate for a school yearbook? A worthy subject for next year’s class to discuss.

Interesting things to consider when making up future curricula:
Maybe they could add a module on making difficult choices when budgeting.

Interesting situation for the principal:
What possessed the teacher to cut out the student’s photograph and comments? Surely he must have realized that it would create much more of a furore than had the school just ignored this relatively harmless exercise of free speech. But teaching is a high-stress occupation: maybe he needs some time off.

Interesting lesson for Brandon.