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BONG HiTS 4 CITIZENS: Civic Education & Political Authority
Unformatted Document Text:  5 Frederick’s speech, let us assume, contradicts one or both of these positions. The narrow, free speech question is undoubtedly an interesting one, both as a matter of American constitutional law and more generally for political theorists, but it presupposes an answer to a prior normative question, namely, whether schools should take and teach positions on the normative status of the law against marijuana use. My interest is primarily in this prior question about the role of schools in shaping children’s attitudes toward political authority and only secondarily in the free speech question of whether students should be permitted to express their dissent from any positions that a school espouses. And my interest is not ultimately in drug education bur rather in broader theoretical questions about the civic educational role of schools, questions that arise with reference to a wide range of exercises of political authority. Consider, for example, laws and constitutional provisions that prohibit gay marriage. Is it permissible or even obligatory for schools and/or educators to express support for these acts of political authority? To criticize them? To tell students that it was wrong of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004 to direct the city’s county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples? Or to commend Newsom’s actions to students? Do the answers to these questions properly depend on the legal and constitutional status of gay marriage in the state where the school is located? To answer the questions about Newsom, do we need to know whether the school is in California? In San Francisco? For a different example, consider a public school that has complied with a contentious court order to install the expensive facilities to accommodate a particular disabled student

Authors: MacMullen, Ian.
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Frederick’s speech, let us assume, contradicts one or both of these positions. The narrow,
free speech question is undoubtedly an interesting one, both as a matter of American
constitutional law and more generally for political theorists, but it presupposes an answer
to a prior normative question, namely, whether schools should take and teach positions
on the normative status of the law against marijuana use. My interest is primarily in this
prior question about the role of schools in shaping children’s attitudes toward political
authority and only secondarily in the free speech question of whether students should be
permitted to express their dissent from any positions that a school espouses. And my
interest is not ultimately in drug education bur rather in broader theoretical questions
about the civic educational role of schools, questions that arise with reference to a wide
range of exercises of political authority.
Consider, for example, laws and constitutional provisions that prohibit gay marriage. Is it
permissible or even obligatory for schools and/or educators to express support for these
acts of political authority? To criticize them? To tell students that it was wrong of San
Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004 to direct the city’s county clerk to issue
marriage licenses to same-sex couples? Or to commend Newsom’s actions to students?
Do the answers to these questions properly depend on the legal and constitutional status
of gay marriage in the state where the school is located? To answer the questions about
Newsom, do we need to know whether the school is in California? In San Francisco?
For a different example, consider a public school that has complied with a contentious
court order to install the expensive facilities to accommodate a particular disabled student


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