SLATE Report, March 2016

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SLATE report for Illinois Association of Teachers of English

March 5, 2016

(Student and faculty literacies made headlines since my last report to you in 10/15 in such large numbers that I include no citations here.  Anyone who wishes references – please write me at, and I will send you at least one relevant essay, article, tape.  Only one source is never sufficient, I know.

ALSO, the IATE Facebook page contains posts related to much that has been observed and written about.  A scroll through its back-posts provides a kind of history.)

Just in the week of March 1, 2016:

  1. Carolina teacher fired because of selfies on cellphone.
  2. Virginia’s state legislature near passage of requirement for trigger warnings of “sexual content” in school readings.
  3. of Missouri professor M. Click fired for treatment of photographer.
  4. Hawkins, ex-professor at Wheaton College, hired to do Race/Religion research at University of Virginia.

Now, more generally.

Student (K-16) newspapers and journals expect “something” each year, but the (1988) Hazelwood School District et al v. Kuhlmeir et al damped-down student journalistic speech.  There are signs of renewed student journalists’ activism: who controls this speech?

I think we need to realize that this is complicated.  One person’s priority may well intersect (alert – new buzz word!) with another’s – and both may be right in some regards.  I don’t believe it’s a matter of relativism (as some might have it), nor is it only a matter of race or gender or class or privilege (the new toxic word!).

Here’s what I call “a for-example.”  Google “Laura Kipnis” and spend 30 or 40 minutes, more if you’ve got it, reading the entries just on the first page.  Kipnis is a tenured professor at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, and she writes for academics as well as the more general public.  Here’s a partial list of the speech issues that drive this story:  academic freedom; political correctness; right to privacy; competing “facts;” Title IX; sexual freedom; women who “lean in;” educational institutions’ procedures surrounding/addressing these issues – – these often seem at odds.  Add your own issue to my list after you read several of the accounts.

When the concept “social justice” emerged as a major topic among English teachers and professors (see the NCTE guidelines on its site), I believe everything seemed fairly straightforward.  That is no longer the case.  Our SLATE is fuller and more problematically interesting than it has been for decades.

Marilyn J. Hollman, Ph.D.
SLATE representative, Executive Board
Illinois Association of Teachers of English




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