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Posted: May 1, 2009 12:30 a.m.

The right to speak, to know

We believe, with every breath we take, in the sanctity of the First Amendment of our country's Constitution. That amendment guarantees every citizen of this country the right to free speech; we feel that same right applies to teachers and students as well.

The Newton County School System's administration has instituted a policy that absolutely denies the right of its teachers, administrators and students to talk to the press unless it is cleared by one public relations official.

The Covington News has been reporting the good and bad about our community for the past 144 years.

We recognize that the focal point of our community is and should be the education of our children - our future.

The school system in Newton County is supported by the taxes of our local, state and national residents. A majority of these tax payers do not have children in the school system, but most still gladly pay their taxes to support the schools.

These tax payers as well as the parents of children in the school system have a right to know the progress and pitfalls of our school system. It is our obligation to report this to our readers; it is the obligation of the school system to ensure that all information affecting the education of our children is reported to our community in a timely manner.

We believe that administrators, teachers and students should not have to ask permission or be in fear of talking to the press about the positive or negative activities relating to their school. They should be able to come to us directly.

In Rockdale County, the school system includes the press in their phone alert system; we have asked for that to be the case here in Newton County. We have not yet had a positive response.

News coming from the school system in Newton County does not need to be homogenized by a one paid employee before it is released to the public. It is the public's right to know.

We ask Newton County Schools' central office administrators to reconsider this one-person control of the flow of information from the school system.


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