Freedom on the line in Indiana

It is time for everyone who cares about the First Amendment and a free press to stand up for Amy Sorrell, the Woodlan Junior-Senior High School journalism teacher in Indiana.
Sorrell received notice on March 29 of her possible terminations as a teacher for allegedly violating school rules because she stood against the outrageous censorship of a student’s column that called for tolerance toward gays.
According to a story published by the Student Press Law Center, students refused to print the paper, The Tomahawk, at all after Principal Edwin Yoder insisted on future prior review of all articles.
Sorrell, showing ingenuity and smarts, began teaching the students First Amendment cases with an eye toward making suggestions for a revised district policy on student publications.
“Changing ‘the prescribed curriculum’ was one violation noted in the letter along with her alleged use of the district’s e-mail system to transmit ‘false or misleading statements to the media,’ casting Yoder ‘in a false light’ and her refusal to retract and replace the Tomahawk’s current editorial policy,” the SPLC said.
“The journalism program…would be better served by replacing you with a teacher willing to work collaboratively with, not in conflict with, the building administrator in carrying out the prior review curriculum requirement for school sponsored publications,” the letter said, according to the SPLC story. Sorrell said that the district, East Allen, “is trying to turn this into a personnel issue,” but it’s not. “This is about East Allen’s stance on tolerance and disregard for the First Amendment,” she told the SPLCA hearing, which Sorrell asked to take place in public, is expected soon, with a final decision likely at the May 1 school board meeting.
This is as sickening an abuse of power by a wayward principal as we’ve seen.
Not content with just censoring a perfectly reasonable column, Yoder is now taking aim at a teacher who is not just good, but great. She’s teaching her students – and the rest of us – that standing up for freedom demands that we take on tyrants, whether they’re commanding armies of evil or running schools like private fiefdoms.
This isn’t a personnel issue. It’s about whether or not the schools, students and teachers in East Allen, Indiana will taste the liberty that nourishes our country or if they’ll be forced to bend to the dictates of a principal with no principles.
The world is watching.
Amy Sorell is worth a million Edwin Yoders.

Leave a Comment