Verna Safran has brought a tense topic to the page with Justin and the First Amendment. I couldn't wait to read this one. The plot is very realistic. I know of many teens these days who wish to wear t-shirts, or other clothing items, that are not allowed at their schools. The whole journey these students take to find out their rights is an interesting one. I've taken a school law course and the facts in this book don't line up with what I learned. Students don't have many rights when it comes to the first amendment. School administrators can cite any object, from clothing to a cell phone or anything in between, as disrupting class and it can be banned from school completely. While I enjoyed Justin and the First Amendment, and the dedication the students put into what they believed in, I think a book like this should parallel what would actually happen in this situation. If the purpose of this book is to get kids thinking, the author has done a superb job, and I do think reading this would spark conversation and maybe even research. I suggest teachers or parents use this as a resource to discuss government and how it works. As in the story, let the students decide what to do next.
Does The Constitution give kids the right to freedom of speech? And does free speech include wearing a T-shirt with a message on it? Justin Conroy finds out, when he wears a peace T-shirt to school. His dad is in the reserves, fighting in far-off Gazolia, and Justin wants him home. But the school authorities accuse him of being unpatriotic and suspend him. His friend Gwen circulates a petition defending him, which a teacher rips up. When a student journalist interviews the two activists, the teacher in charge of the school newspaper withholds the article. Luckily, their class is studying The Constitution, and their history teacher, Mr. Graham, introduces them to their First Amendment rights. But what's the best way to fight for those rights? How do you speak truth to power? Justin and his friends discover that heroes and heroines come in all shapes and sizes, and the doers of brave deeds can be the most unexpected folks around - nerdy dweebs, jazz musicians, beauty queens - they might even be you!