PEN'S POWER

PEN, the respected writers' association, has a worthy recipient for its First Amendment Award in Cissy Lacks
Editorial, April 26, 1996 Post Dispatch

PEN'S POWER
Editorial, April 26, 1996 Post Dispatch

PEN, the respected writers' association, has a worthy recipient for its First Amendment Award in Cissy Lacks, the former Ferguson-Florissant teacher fired for trying to mold students into good writers by using their own words. The $25,000 prize will do more than help pay her bills as she fights her dismissal in court. It should also give other teachers the courage to battle censorship - and rein in school officials who fear the power of words.

As unfairly as Ms. Lacks was treated, her personal loss was made worse by the number of teachers who have felt the need to censor themselves before their supervisors could do so. The issue is not irresponsible license to use bad words. It is the ability of teachers to harness the power of raw language into expression that is more acceptable without losing its punch. Any teacher who can do so deserves to be honored as Ms. Lacks has been.

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