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First Amendment SchoolsEducating for Freedom and Responsibility
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The following are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

What is the First Amendment Schools project?

First Amendment Schools: Educating for Freedom and Responsibility, is a national school reform initiative designed to help schools teach and practice the civic principles and virtues vital to democracy, freedom and the common good. First Amendment Schools (FAS) was launched by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and the First Amendment Center on March 16, 2001, the 250th anniversary of James Madison’s birth. Today the First Amendment Schools Network includes schools throughout the nation – K-12, public and private – committed to becoming laboratories of democratic freedom.

ASCD, an international, nonprofit association, is one of the largest professional development organizations for educator leaders. It provides education information services, offers cutting-edge professional development for effective teaching and learning, and supports activities to provide educational equity for all students.

The First Amendment Center is an operating program of the Freedom Forum, a non-partisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech, and free spirit for all people. The center works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, the right to assemble and petition the government.

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What are the Guiding Principles of a First Amendment School?

  • Democratic Freedom: A First Amendment School educates for freedom and responsibility by providing students and all members of the school community with substantial opportunities to practice democracy. When everyone is given a meaningful voice in shaping the life of the school, all have a real stake in creating and sustaining safe and caring learning communities.
  • Rights and Responsibilities: A First Amendment School upholds the principles of democratic freedom by protecting religious liberty rights, encouraging freedom of expression, promoting academic freedom, ensuring a free student press and supporting broad-based involvement in school governance.
  • Community Engagement: A First Amendment School affirms the importance of modeling the democratic process and upholding individual rights in the development of policies and curricula. Decisions are made after appropriate involvement of those affected by the decision and with due consideration for the rights of those holding dissenting views.
  • Active Citizenship: A First Amendment School encourages active citizenship by giving students opportunities to translate civic education into community engagement. Active citizens are willing to participate in public life by addressing problems and issues in their communities, our nation and the world.
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What resources does the First Amendment Schools project provide?

  • The First Amendment Schools Network provides selected K-12 schools with First Amendment resources, supplementary funding, and opportunities to collaborate with and learn from like-minded communities across the country;
  • First Amendment Publications provide guidance on a broad range of First Amendment topics, from summaries of the latest legal rulings to annual surveys designed to gauge the public’s understanding and awareness of key First Amendment issues in the public square;
  • The First Amendment Schools Web Site connects school communities to sample school policies, First Amendment lesson plans, First Amendment research tools, Supreme Court files, and more;
  • Professional Development Workshops help local school communities understand and apply First Amendment principles throughout their communities and classrooms.
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How can my school join the FAS Network?

Currently, the FAS Network is accepting applications for its Affiliate Schools program.

Affiliate Schools
The Affiliate Program is the entryway into the work of becoming a First Amendment School. Affiliates commit to the guiding principles of the FAS Project, receive materials and resources on democratic freedom and whole school reform, and are eligible for small grants to support best practices for implementing First Amendment School principles. Affiliate School applications, submitted by the principal and two additional members of the school community, are welcome throughout the year.

For more information about joining the FAS Network, or to see examples of existing First Amendment Schools, visit the Involve Your School page or contact Molly McCloskey at ASCD (mmccloskey@ascd.org, 703.575.5475).

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Last updated: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 09:53:03