Featured

Highlights from Hazelwood

James Bowie High School Newspaper Adviser Michael Reeves shares his experience regarding the Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier decision, which occured on January 29th, 1988 and now marks Student Press Freedom Day.

In 1988 I was the Editor-in-Chief of the Ukiahilite in Ukiah, CA. It was my senior year and through my adviser and my father, who happened to be the publisher of the local newspaper, The Ukiah Daily Journal, I knew that there was a court case that was going to be heard by the SCOTUS regarding student scholastic press rights. We knew that Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier might impact the publication of our high school paper.

Between my father Thomas Reeves, my adviser Pat Wilson and I, we discussed plans if there was a negative decision made and there was any efforts on the part of the principal of Ukiah High School to censor the publication what the response would be. The school district had recently hired a new principal, who had been a principal at a middle school in another part of California. There were rumors that he was not a fan of the press, some sources indicated that he had run afoul of the local press at his old school, and had left under questionable circumstances before being hired by the USD. There were some questions about why he was even hired, but those were secondary to the newspaper’s potential problems.

When we learned the results of the Hazelwood case, the next day I met with the principal and my father. We informed him that we would not tolerate any censorship, and that if there was any attempt to even step foot in the journalism room, that we would resort to taking the paper underground. We kept the adviser out of the discussion because we knew as an employee of the school, he might be risking his job to be involved. 

As the publisher of the local paper, my father pledged to provide the necessary equipment, darkroom, paste-up tables, etc. so that the student staff of the Ukiahilite could produce the paper off site. He also agreed to print the paper at cost, so the local community would be able to support the paper with advertising that would cover all expenses. The paper could then be printed off site and distributed both on and off campus to students free of charge and as a non-campus publication, similar to the Daily Journal or any other media production.

The principal was not extremely informed about Hazelwood, and he didn’t like the threats, but in the end there was an agreement reached. He never did attempt to censor the paper during my final year on campus. The ‘Hilite was a nationally recognized publication that won multiple best-in-show awards from the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association, as well as Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the American Scholastic Press Association. We won multiple awards every year from the California Scholastic Press Association and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat area awards.

Ironically, the following year, after I had graduated, the adviser Pat Wilson, was removed from that position in the middle of the year, shortly after the publication of the Ukiahilite that was critical of an administrative decision. I had left town to attend a local community college, Santa Rosa Junior College, where I worked on the newspaper staff of the Oak Leaf, an award-winning collegiate publication.

Led by my father, who was still the publisher at the Daily Journal, there was a public outcry over the removal. Eventually his position was reinstated and he was allowed to continue as the adviser of the ‘Hilite. Eventually, though, Pat moved on to teach history at a smaller area high school. That year, 1989, Pat Wilson was name the California High School Journalism Adviser of the Year. I attended the awards ceremony and was able to celebrate his achievements as one of the best high school journalism teachers in the country.

I consider Pat my mentor and I still advise the publication here at James Bowie High School, in Austin, using many of the methods and approaches he used with us 30+ years ago. We communicate on a regular basis and he is always complementary of the publications my students put out and my role as their adviser. He never says it, but I think he is proud of where I am as a teacher and adviser and there is a sense of pride that he was the person that changed my life through high school journalism. He is why I am where I am and doing what I do. 

Michael Reeves

Ask administrators, school board members and student publications to show their support of New Voices legislation

The 2021-2022 school year was a ridiculously difficult time to try to pass a bill through the Texas legislative process, which is tough in a non-pandemic year. With only 140 days, starting in January and ending in May, very few bills make it through the process. This year State Rep. Mary González, filed HB 422 as a New Voices bill. Rep. Harold Dutton, Chairman of the House Public Education Committee, never scheduled a hearing for the bill so it ultimately died when the session ended on May 31.

We are now planning for the future by collecting the names of school board members, school administrators and student publications that support New Voices legislation in Texas. To do this, New Voices Texas has started a pledge program in which we are asking student publications leaders, administrators and school board members to pledge their support for passage of a New Voices law in Texas. We will use these pledges to create and publish lists of student publications, administrators and school board members who support New Voices in Texas. 

We are excited to have these new officers carry the fight to pass a New Voices law in Texas forward. We all recognize that this will be a multi-year effort in which we will make progress incrementally over time and we intend to raise awareness and build a coalition that will eventually pass a state law that will cure Hazelwood and provide important protections for student press rights in Texas.

Central and South Texas Regional Organizer, Amoli Agarwal

As the Regional Organizer for Central and South Texas (ESC Regions 1, 2, 3, 12, 13, and 20) of New Voices Texas, I work to consolidate the ideas of student press freedoms with more extensive goals written in our Constitution throughout a wide range of groups in Central and South Texas. With outreach to student publication advisors and the use of platforms like Action Network, I seek to ensure that every student journalist in this region understands the various possibilities New Voices legislation can bring to newsrooms across Texas.

Amoli Agarwal

By working with school boards and administrators, I intend to increase the trust and transparency between student journalism efforts and school authorities in order to strengthen the overall purpose of our legislation. Through advocacy in high schools, I aim to extend our cause beyond student press rights by demonstrating its importance towards upholding American laws and ideals in order to gather the support of students and teachers not directly connected to student journalism.

My primary objective is to create and maintain connections with student journalists, high schools, officials, and teachers all over my region in order to raise awareness and support for this pivotal movement in student journalism. I aspire to advance an enduring impact on student journalists, allowing them freedom from censorship and unjust consequences.

Endings and beginnings for New Voices Texas in the 2021-2022 school year

Before the 2021 school year even started we at New Voices Texas knew it was going to be a crazy year. 

Besides learning how to do school during a pandemic, our student leaders had to adapt to a revised leadership structure, which was expanded from two student officers to six. With the additional student officers, we knew we had to give everyone specific roles so they each had focus areas to accomplish goals for this student-led organization. 

Mylo Bissell, NVT’s legislative officer, had his work cut out for him in preparing for Texas’ 87th Legislative Session, which began in January. Regional Organizer Mia Nguyen and Statewide Organizer Katlynn Fox worked to recruit supporters by using digital advocacy tools. Education Officer Keana Saberi and Club Development Officer Cade Spencer developed a New Voices Club Starter Kit to help attract more students to get involved at campuses across the state. Communications Officer Christine Vo stayed busy updating the website, creating graphics and posting on our social media channels. 

We were also pleased to offer New Voices Texas t-shirts for sale on Bonfire, giving us a way to ship our merchandise across the state. The 2020-2021 school year also marked the first year in which we operated with a political action committee, enabling us to legally collect and spend money to promote the passage of a New Voices law in Texas. We were fortunate to recruit Sara Flores to serve as the treasurer. This means she does the work of reporting the donations we collect and the money that we spend to the Texas Ethics Commission. It’s tedious paperwork, but spending money is necessary to pay for things like our website and other promotional efforts. 

It was a ridiculously difficult year to try to pass a bill through the Texas legislative process, which is tough in a non-pandemic year. With only 140 days, starting in January and ending in May, very few bills make it through the process. This year State Rep. Mary González, filed HB 422 as a New Voices bill. Rep. Harold Dutton, Chairman of the House Public Education Committee, never scheduled a hearing for the bill so it ultimately died when the session ended on May 31.

Although the bill didn’t pass, we found ways to make progress in other ways. Rep. González’s staff helped coordinate a meeting between New Voices Texas and public affairs staff at the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Association of School Administrators. During the 2019 legislative session, these organizations have opposed New Voices legislation. This was our first opportunity to explain to them why we believe that a New Voices law will benefit school administrators and school districts by clarifying the roles of everyone involved in the student publication process.

We also started our pledge program in which we asked student publications leaders, administrators and school board members to pledge their support for passage of a New Voices law in Texas. We will use these pledges to create and publish lists of student publications, administrators and school board members who support New Voices in Texas. 

Before the school year ended, we recruited a new batch of officers to replace those who graduated. We had another outstanding batch of applicants and we have added six new student leaders and restructured to allow for four regional officers to provide better coverage of the state. We would like to quickly introduce you to these new officers now.

Keana Saberi will continue serving as the Education Officer. She attends Westwood High School in the Round Rock school district. She serves as the editor-in-chief of the Westwood Horizon student newspaper.

Catharine Li is our new Communications Officer. She attends Westwood High School in the Round Rock school district and works as the Arts and Entertainment Editor at the Westwood Horizon student newspaper.

Carey Beth Wooley is our new Legislative Officer. She attends James Bowie High School in the Austin school district and works as a staff writer for the The Dispatch student newspaper.

MaKalie Farmer is our new Club Development Officer and is a Regional Officer coveraging ESC Regions 14, 15, 16, 17,18 and 19 in West Texas. She attends Abilene High School in the Abilene school district. She serves as the editor-in-chief of the The Battery student newspaper.

Kate Knauff is a Regional Organizer covering ESC Regions 9, 10 and 11 in North Texas. She attends Hebron High School in the Lewisville school district. She works for The Hawk Eye student newspaper.

Jessica Gil is a Regional Organizer covering ESC Regions 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 in East Texas. She will also help us produce podcasts for New Voices Texas this year. She attends Bellaire High School in the Houston school district. She serves as a staff writer for the Three Penny Press student newspaper.

Amoli Agarwal is a Regional Organizer for ESC Regions 1, 2, 3, 12, 13 and 20 in Central and South Texas. She attends Westwood High School in the Round Rock school district. She works as news editor for the Westwood Horizon student newspaper.

We are excited to have these new officers carry the fight to pass a New Voices law in Texas forward. We all recognize that this will be a multi-year effort in which we will make progress incrementally over time and we intend to raise awareness and build a coalition that will eventually pass a state law that will cure Hazelwood and provide important protections for student press rights in Texas.

Introducing the NVT Regional Organizers

The regional organizing team works to build a more pronounced and diverse coalition of student journalists across the entire state. Four officers have been assigned to serve as Regional Organizers for the North, East, West and South/Central Texas regions. We have divided the the state using Texas’ regional Education Service Centers and grouped them together for each of our regional organizers to better focus their efforts.

We encourage students looking to get involved with New Voices Texas to contact the organizer focused on building the movement in your part of the state. Please review our map and the Texas Education Agency’s Education Service Center map to help you find your NVT regional organizer.

MaKalie Farmer — mkbeals@icloud.com

MaKalie is our new Club Development Officer and is a Regional Officer coveraging ESC Regions 14, 15, 16, 17,18 and 19 in West Texas. She attends Abilene High School in the Abilene school district. She serves as the editor-in-chief of the The Battery student newspaper.

Kate Knauff — kateknauff@gmail.com

Kate is a Regional Organizer covering ESC Regions 9, 10 and 11 in North Texas. She attends Hebron High School in the Lewisville school district. She works for The Hawk Eye student newspaper.

Jessica Gil — jessica.6il1578@gmail.com

Jessica is a Regional Organizer covering ESC Regions 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 in East Texas. She will also help us produce podcasts for New Voices Texas this year. She attends Bellaire High School in the Houston school district. She serves as a staff writer for the Three Penny Press student newspaper.

Amoli Agarwal — amoli1agarwal@gmail.com

Amoli is a Regional Organizer for ESC Regions 1, 2, 3, 12, 13 and 20 in Central and South Texas. She attends Westwood High School in the Round Rock school district. She works as news editor for the Westwood Horizon student newspaper.

West Texas Regional Organizer and Club Development Officer, MaKalie Farmer

As the West Texas (ESC Regions 14-19) Regional Organizing Officer and the Club Development Officer of New Voices Texas, I work to spread the story of student journalists across the state and reach out to other student publications to let them know they have a voice and a right to be heard. 

MaKalie Farmer

I am responsible for contacting student publications across regions 14 through 19 as a Regional Officer, reaching out to student publications and starting new clubs across the state, and getting the word out that New Voices is a cause worth fighting for.

I measure success as an officer by how much I influence people. I believe the more publications I can get to be interested in New Voices, the more likely we are to reach our goal. 

By the end of the school year, I hope I have made a substantial impact among student journalists and inspired them to fight for their rights. I also hope to inspire other students to find a cause they’re passionate about and advocate for change. 

Legislative Officer, Carey Beth Wooley

As the Legislative Officer for New Voices Texas, I hold the responsibility of communicating with legislative officials in both the House and the Senate. I work to be a bridge between these legislative bodies and the supporters of New Voices legislation.

Carey Beth Wooley

I will attend meetings with both school board officials and people involved directly in the legislative process. In order to achieve this, I will further educate myself about the inner workings of the Texas legislative system as well as spread this information to our supporters and student journalist across the state.  

By the end of the year I hope to have begun talks with a senator who could possibly work with us. I also hope to have had meetings with school board officials and officials on the other side of this fight to further understand their thought process and to educate them about ours. 

To achieve these goals and get closer to our overarching aim to pass this bill, I will work closely with the other New Voices Texas officers to set up events and spread awareness about this important issue. This New Voices bill is crucial to not only student journalists, but Texans everywhere. Throughout this next year I hope to have helped this fight and gotten us just a little closer to being able to call Texas a New Voices state.

North Texas Regional Organizer, Kate Knauff

As the North Texas (ESC Regions 9-11) Regional Organizer of New Voices, I work to educate other high school journalism programs in my surrounding regions about New Voices legislation and how they can show support in the upcoming legislative session.

Kate Knauff

I will do this by encouraging and aiding student journalists and programs in my region to implement New Voices clubs to further the scope of support for this piece of legislation.

I will work alongside the other officers to create resources and guide other programs in how they can bolster this organization. I hope that at the end of the year, I have created a strong enough foundation in my region to continue fighting to pass this legislation even after I graduate.

East Texas Regional Organizer and Podcast Editor, Jessica Gil

As the Regional Organizer for East Texas (ESC Regions 4-8) and Podcast Editor of New Voices Texas, I work to ensure that all of the East Texas region is aware of our attempts to pass the New Voices legislation. 

Jessica Gil

This state law will protect student journalists from censorship by school officials and cure problems with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision. I am responsible for building connections with supporters and allies to promote the New Voices movement. I will also work to recruit new advocates from high schools, whether it be student journalists, teachers, or administrators in the East Texas region. I have created the first ever podcast for New Voices Texas, where I will be hosting in-person or virtual interviews with student journalists, school administrators, and even lawmakers that are with our cause. I will be doing this in order for student journalists, school administrators, representatives, and all of Texas to become more familiar with our organization as it gains traction. 

As an officer, I will measure success by gaining as much support as possible, both in terms of podcast listeners and support from many high schools, legislators, and anyone who is unfamiliar with New Voices. I hope that by the end of this school year, I will have garnered as much support as possible from both existing New Voices supporters and new supporters that I hope to recruit. 

Communications Officer, Catharine Li

As the Communications Officer of New Voices Texas, I work to relay important updates about the New Voices movement in Texas. I will ensure that our digital advocacy efforts are carried out in a timely, concise, and clear manner.

Catharine Li

While coordinating dynamic publicity efforts, I will utilize compelling visuals to amplify informational material, leading outreach projects to mobilize our campaign audience to take action by way of our website and various social media platforms.

Both empowered and awed by the sheer diversity and tenacity of scholastic media programs across the state, I seek to strengthen the inextinguishable spirit of community, using a plethora of powerful social platforms as a purposeful vessel for driving visibility, calling attention to the significance of young voices. By facilitating a welcome space for open discussion, building a forum to share forthright perspectives about the challenges and triumphs of the student journalist experience, I will help develop a stronger, more resilient coalition of supporters. 

Beyond simply raising awareness with these platforms, I will help build connections to facilitate sharing the stories of Texas student journalists. It is my ultimate goal to work with my fellow officers to galvanize lasting change, increasing transparency between students, consumers of scholastic media, and parties of influence, encouraging them to pass a New Voices law in Texas.

Education Officer, Keana Saberi

As the Education officer of New Voices Texas, I work to curate educational materials that detail our mission to prioritize the legal rights of student journalists.

Keana Saberi

In conjunction with this effort, I work to inform others on the crucial role of student journalists and how the student press is a fundamental forum highlighting a myriad of perspectives and empowered voices while adhering to ethical and professional journalistic standards.

In addition, I will discuss the prevalence of censorship and how the New Voices movement seeks to combat unduly censorship of the student press. I will create educational content that is credible and can be dispersed to further expand the growing quantity of New Voices supporters and student journalism advocates.

My hope is that by the end of my high school career, I have helped to bolster this critical effort and have contributed to student journalists receiving the respect and full-encompassing rights they deserve.