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First Amendment and Tinker

Students learn about the ground-breaking Supreme Court case that protected student speech in public schools.

Mary Beth Tinker and her brother, John, display two black armbands. Wearing them to school led to the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines.

Mary Beth Tinker and her brother, John, display two black armbands. Wearing them to school led to the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines.
Students learn how the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment apply in everyday life and in school. When are there limits and why? Focusing on the Supreme Court landmark case of Tinker v. Des Moines, learn how public schools must balance students’ rights to free expression with the need to provide a safe learning environment.
"The students were really impressed and I may have to answer to my principal because they are abuzz about changing uniform policy! ... Students often times don't know their rights and this was a great way for them to get introduced to the 5 freedoms." Karine Welsh, ESL teacher, Cesar Chavez PCS for Public Policy


Gallery Guide - You Can't Say That in School PDF DOC

To request a large print or Braille version, call 202.292.6650.

Booking Information

This class requires a minimum of 12 students and a maximum of 36 students in the Learning Center classroom or 100 students in the Documentary Theater. Groups larger than class capacity will be assigned staggered class times based on your group’s window of availability. We appreciate hands-on assistance from chaperones when needed.

Book a class in the Newseum

Virtual classes can be scheduled to coincide with your bell schedule. We currently offer virtual classes via GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype and WebEx. Let us know if your school uses another platform; we consider special requests on a case-by-case basis.

Book a virtual class

How to register and enroll

Classes in the Newseum: On-site classes must be requested at least one week in advance. Please be advised that your preferred date may not be available, so have at least two dates in mind. We recommend arriving at the Newseum at least than 15 minutes before your scheduled class time.   Virtual classes: Virtual classes must be requested at least two weeks in advance. To request a virtual class, please complete the request form. All reservations are tentative pending confirmation of hardware and software capabilities. Please call the Education Department at 202/292-6650 for more information.  

Cancellation policy:

When a school fails to appear for its schedule Newseum class, it prevents other schools from using that slot. Please notify us at least one week in advance if you must cancel your reservation.

Accessibility Questions?

Assistance (e.g. ASL interpretation, assistive listening, description) for programs/tours can be arranged with at least seven business days’ notice. Please contact AccessUs at or by calling 202/292-6453.

  • Topics:
    Supreme Court
  • Theme:
    Civics and Citizenship
  • Level:
    Students | Grades 6-12
  • Cost:
    Free; Newseum admission required
  • Duration:
    50 minutes
  • Days Offered:
    Monday through Friday
  • Times Offered:
    9:30 a.m. Learning Center or Documentary Theater
    10:45 a.m. Learning Center or Documentary Theater
    12:15 p.m. Learning Center or Documentary Theater
    1:30 p.m. Learning Center or Documentary Theater
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Virtually
  • Capacity:
    Max 36 in the Learning Center
    Max 100 in the Documentary Theater
  • Minimum Enrollment:
    12 participants
  • Grades:
    Middle School
    High School
  • Formats:
    At the Newseum

EDClasses & Training related to this class

  • Newseum Learning Center

    Who's Afraid of Fake News? Responding to Misleading Media

    Even if your students can spot fake news, what should they do about it? Explore the real consequences of this phenomenon and how you can help your students shape the reach and impact of fake news. (In beta testing for 2017-2018 school year.)

    This class is for:

    • Educators
  • Newseum Learning Center, Documentary Theater and/or Virtually

    You Can't Say That?!

    Students learn about restrictions to freedom of speech in public life, then debate court cases that determined when and why those limits apply.

    This class is for:

    • Students


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