LETTER- Albemarle school leaders flunk censorship test

I have strongly supported Albemarle schools in their budgetary woes, but Albemarle High's successful attempt to squelch any student input on how to save money means Albemarle schools have lost my support. [June 17: "P.E. staff P.O.'d: Albemarle High School censors op-ed"]

An AHS student writes an editorial suggesting that varsity athletes not be required to attend PE classes, which might afford a saving in personnel, and which is certainly a commonsense suggestion. PE teachers hear about this, complain, and the principal and newspaper advisor cancel the issue.

Advisor Kim Aust claims the reason was there were typos, and that "if I have to go to court about a story, I'm not going with one that has misspelled words." Since she caved to PE pressure, she obviously will not defend the paper in court, so this is puerile. And if she is worried about typos, she should work on the basic english skills of Albemarle school administrators.

Albemarle schools spokeswoman Maury Brown says that PE teachers were concerned that the opinion article was one-sided? Brown apparently doesn't realize that the word "editorial" means "a newspaper or magazine article that gives the opinions of the editors." She then goes on to say "It is important that in any response to the public that we not appear to condone censorship."

Since censorship means "to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable," she obviously doesn't understand that word either. Yet Aust and Brown are worried about typos? Surely understanding the meaning of words comes first? Aust says PE teachers would not be able to "conduct class" if a student expressed an opinion. PE teachers at AHS are that pathetic? Aust says the solution is to "run an article in August." Not an editorial, an article. She says she "already has student reporters working on this." So she is the editor now? Apparently.

Finally, her most fatuous comment is that this will be "a good learning experience" for AHS' journalists. She is correct, but I suspect she has absolutely zero clue as to what they have learned. Principal Thomas obviously doesn't know English either. "If you ask, do we censor student opinion–no because I value the input of students."

Other than looking up the definition of "censor," Principal Thomas should evaluate how he values the input of students by suppressing it. A sad day for Albemarle schools.

Derek Oppen


1 comment

What took place at Albemarle High school may not be the norm in the county schools, but it's not unusual either.

Here is another case that's somewhat similar:


If you read the entire article from the C-ville Weekly, it's clear that the county schools "obfuscated" at every turn and tried to evade Freedom of Information Act requirements. But the county schools spokesperson says that the schools abide by FOIA and take it seriously.

Nice letter, Derek Oppen.

One has to wonder why the newspaper advisor still has that position.

And one has to wonder what the principal actually learned in his school law class.