At the Schoolhouse Gate: Lessons in Intellectual Freedom / Edition 1

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Click here to read the NCTE Council Chronicle review of At the Schoolhouse Gate: Lessons in Intellectual Freedom!

"It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." With this pronouncement in 1969, Justice Abe Fortas laid down the law. But this has by no means meant that intellectual freedom reigns supreme. Far from it-American public schools can be the worst offenders, as Gloria Pipkin and ReLeah Cossett Lent make clear in this extraordinary account of courage, commitment, and caring for the teaching profession.

Over the last two decades Pipkin and Lent have worked together to build a tradition of intellectual freedom within public schools. Their book describes their struggles as cultural workers, the pedagogical and legal strategies they employed, the resistance they encountered, the lessons they learned, and the impact that they've seen on the lives of the students they serve. Their story brings vividly to life some of the most important questions in public education today:

  • Do First Amendment protections apply to teachers and students in K-12?
  • Who controls what we can read and write in schools?
  • Is inquiry or indoctrination at the heart of schooling?
  • Can critical literacy survive the machinations of shortsighted bureaucrats and board members?
Through two intertwined stories spanning nearly two decades, the authors address these questions. They also provide specific strategies for teachers trapped in similar circumstances. Emotionally intense, yet practical, At the Schoolhouse Gate provides for every teacher what every good teacher wants for his or her students: inspiration and elevation.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Ever wonder why some of our best and most talented teachers arent in the classroom anymore? This brave, sometimes heartbreakingly honest story of two teachersGloria Pipkin and ReLeah Lentwho put themselves and their careers on the line to defend the rights of their students, should be required reading for everyone working with young people or considering a career in education.”–Judy Blume, Bestselling, awardwinning author
School Library Journal
Two English teachers share their courageous personal battle to support students' intellectual rights in the Bay County School District in Florida in the 1980s when censorship cases were looming in schools throughout the nation. Their story is certainly relevant today. As middle school teachers, Pipkin and Lent developed a curriculum in which "active learners grew into lifelong readers because they were given real choices, time to read, and supportive feedback." The first section of the book is devoted to this program, and the hurdles these teachers faced as they used books that some parents and school officials found offensive. The second section focuses on free expression in student publications. Finally, the third section takes a broader and long-term view of issues related to selection policies and what they mean to teachers and school boards and the ramification of stepping out of bounds for the sake of students and their right to free expression. An "Intellectual Freedom Manifesto" includes "The Right to Read," "The Right to Write," "The Right to Create," "The Right to Teach and Learn," and "The Right to Communicate in the Digital Age." Another section includes "What Can a Teacher Do?" and "Resources about the First Amendment." This book is one of inspiration, and teachers, librarians, and school administrators may find it encouraging as they face similar battles.-Pat Scales, South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325003955
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 1/11/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

ReLeah Cossett Lent was a middle and high school teacher before becoming a founding member of a statewide literacy project at the University of Central Florida. She is now an international consultant, writing and speaking about adolescent literacy, Common Core, and school leadership. Her latest book is Overcoming Textbook Fatigue: 21st Century Tools to Invigorate Learning (ASCD). ReLeah's work with Jimmy Santiago Baca, award-winning poet and writer, led to a book and CD for reaching at-risk adolescents, Adolescents on the Edge, Stories and Lessons to Transform Learning (Heinemann). She has also written Keep Them Reading: An Anti-Censorship Guide for Educators and Literacy for Real: Reading, Thinking and Learning in the Content Areas (Teachers College Press), Engaging Adolescent Learners and Literacy Learning Communities (Heinemann). ReLeah's first two books, co-authored with Gloria Pipkin and published by Heinemann won the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Award and the NCTE/Slate Intellectual Freedom Award. ReLeah was also the recipient of the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award in 1999. You can find her at

Gloria Pipkin taught language arts in Florida public schools for more than twenty years. Since leaving the school system, she has written widely about censorship and other education issues. Her current struggles for intellectual freedom focus on resisting the orthodoxy imposed by high-stakes testing. Her email address is

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Table of Contents

The Freedom to Read

The Road to Camelot

Choosing to Learn

Reading Under Fire


Building Public Support

Into the Infernov

Taking a Stand

Appeals, Rebukes, and Death Threats

The Power of the Pressv

Banned in Bay County

Saving the Classics

Christians Strike Back

Alone in the Wasteland

Courage and Despair

The Urge to Censor

Freedom of Expression

Yes and No at the Right Time

Lead out from Within

Remarking Ourselves

Rejecting the Human Search

Still Learning

The Writer or the Reader?

Silencing Mankind

The Fearful Magic of Print

Bad Decisions

No More to Build on There

For the Children

Safety in a Sane Society

Suppression and Suspicion

Offensive and Disagreeable Ideas

Specializing in the Impossible

Foundations of Freedom

Riches and Gaps

Challenging the Conventional Wisdom

Adding It Up / Intellectual Freedom Manifesto / What Can a Teacher Do?

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