Is Public Education Compatible with Free Speech?
Oct 19, 2021
Questions about free speech arise often in connection with education. We see them in in decisions about which views to include in curricula, in disputes about what opinions teachers and students can voice in class or on campus—or even off campus—without being subject to disciplinary action. They arise also in disputes about what sorts of speakers and organizations are welcome on campus. Such disputes arise in private education as well as in public, but they take on a special significance in the case of schools run by a government committed to respecting all individuals’ right to freedom of speech. In this panel we explore the possibility that these questions are insoluble because public education is itself incompatible with this right. Is this contradiction real? And if so, how should we proceed as individuals living in a society that holds free speech as an ideal, and that has a robust and entrenched public education system?