WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new national study, the largest of its kind, says America’s high schools are leaving the First Amendment behind.
In particular, educators are failing to give high school students an appreciation of the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and a free press, say researchers from the University of Connecticut, who questioned more than 100,000 high school students, nearly 8,000 teachers, and more than 500 administrators and principals.
The two-year, $1 million research project, titled ‘The Future of the First Amendment,’ was commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The survey suggests that First Amendment rights — freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, of assembly and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances — would be universally known if they were classroom staples.
‘High school attitudes about the First Amendment are important because each generation of citizens helps define what freedom means in our society,’ the report reads.
Among its findings:
Nearly three-fourths of high school students either do not know how they feel about the First Amendment or admit they take it for granted.
Seventy-five percent erroneously think flag burning is illegal.
Half believe the government can censor the Internet.
More than a third think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.
‘These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous,’ said Knight Foundation President and CEO Hodding Carter III. ‘Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation’s future.’”

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation