We’ve noted before how freedom of speech doesn’t always extend to the public education system in the UK or elsewhere. At graduation time, every year, we hear about graduation speeches that fall foul of the education authorities. Typically it’s unapproved graduation speeches at fault. And equally clear is that there’s little to no freedom of speech in many schools.
These stories follow a familiar pattern. The speaker is a class president. The school invites them to give a class graduation speech. They submit their speech for “corrections” before the event…and then they deliver their speech without some or all of the official “corrections.” Naughty.
The problem is that the local authorities then behave with Stalinist efficiency, confiscating diplomas and starting inquiries. Or, if there’s a sniff of rebellion, there’s a graduation speech ban.
So, this week it’s the turn of a New Jersey school, Middletown High School South. Two of their graduating class presidents (Eric Dominach and Mike Sebastiano) made the familiar mistake. They gave unapproved graduation speeches without the “corrections” and then found that their diplomas weren’t to be issued.
The reason? Apparently the education authorities wanted to investigate whether students mentioned in the speeches had felt they were being bullied. Were the students trampling on anti-bullying guidelines? The reaction of the student body? OMG.
You couldn’t make it up. In reality the education authorities had reacted badly to some clever little jokes told about them and their organisation.
However, the story does have a happy ending. Both class presidents have now received their diplomas. But all the students have had an introduction to the bitter petty-minded officials that stalk many public authorities. Welcome to further education and the world of work.
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