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Little did the three Des Moines students know that their decision to wear black armbands to school in December 1965 would lead to a Supreme Court ruling on student rights that still reverberates today. The case involving Mary Beth Tinker, her brother John, and Christopher Eckhardt  "remains the leading K-12 First Amendment decision – the baseline for which the vast majority of public student free-expression cases are examined," writes David L. Hudson Jr. with the Freedom Forum Institute.

The court's ruling in 50 years ago in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District is the foundation for two of our student classes, and we’ve worked with free speech activist Mary Beth Tinker numerous times over the years. Here are several NewseumED resources you can use to mark the Feb. 24 anniversary of the ruling:

  • Free classes: Sign up for “You Can’t Say That in School?!” and “First Amendment and Tinker” that explore how far First Amendment protections extend in public school, and why limits may be necessary. The classes are taught at the Newseum or can be done virtually around your bell schedule.
  • Webcast: Watch an hour-long webcast we did with Tinker in March 2018 as student activism swelled following a deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School  in Parkland, Florida. Students in the audience, as well as watching the live-stream, asked her questions.
  • Video: Members of NewseumED's Student Advisory Team interview Tinker as part of a project with the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County, California.
  • Column: David L. Hudson provides background on the students' protest, notes the importance of the Supreme Court decision then and now, and looks at other post-Tinker court decisions on student expression.  
  • Podcast: Listen to what Tinker has to say about First Amendment freedoms in a six-minute podcast. 


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EDClasses & Training

  • From Facts to Firewalls: Leading Free Speech Debates

    Get the First Amendment background and media literacy techniques to help students understand where and how they can exercise freedom of expression in a world of social media and social protests.

  • Is It Fair? Evaluate Your Media

    Are accusations of bias clogging your news feed? Are your students quick to point out that something's unfair — but not as ready to explain why? Tune up your “fairness meter” to assess how objective or biased content really is.

  • The Civil War: From the Front Lines to the Front Pages

    Students see how technology affected news coverage and public perception of the Civil War, then create their own front pages with breaking news, maps and telegrams.

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