‘Teachers and the First Amendment’ public forum Nov. 13


Julie UnderwoodNovember 1, 2019 - Join the University of Wisconsin-River Falls community in welcoming Keynote Speaker Julie Underwood, professor of education law, policy & practice at UW-Madison; Michael Hume, freelance writer, singer, and songwriter; and other guests on Wednesday, Nov. 13, in the Riverview Ballroom in the University Center as they discuss the role of the First Amendment in school and society.

A social with refreshments begins at 5 p.m., Hume will read and perform at 5:30 p.m., presentations and public discussion will begin at 6 p.m.

This public forum is open to anyone interested in joining the conversation on how “public” are our public schools and how “free” is the right to free expression in education? Discussion topics will include academic freedom, hate speech and censorship, role of culture and community standards in promoting values, and character education, especially as these apply to the rights and responsibilities of beginning teachers.

Hume is the author of “The 95th Christmas,” a story about finding the alternative to holiday commercialism. One reviewer said, “It is a tale full of wonder, mystery and the truth that leads us all to follow our hearts and experience our own nativity each and every day.” Hume has composed and recorded original songs referenced in the novel on an album titled The Christmas in Me. He will read and perform as a warm-up and stimulus to the discussion of the First Amendment which will begin with the question “How much Christmas is too much Christmas in school and society?”

While in River Falls, Hume will also perform, read, and sign books and CDs on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 9:45 a.m. at Ezekiel Lutheran Church, River Falls, and on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the River Falls Public Library. He will present a master class, “Music Beyond Listening and Literature Beyond Reading,” in the Breezeway (second floor) of Davee Library on campus on Monday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m. Hume’s book and CD will be available at each event and at Fox Den Books, River Falls.

Underwood, a nationally recognized authority on school law and former dean of the UW-Madison School of Education, will provide the keynote address and then serve as a discussant on the panel. She has served as general counsel for the National School Boards Association in Washington, D.C. and Council of School Attorneys. Underwood has written several books on school law for teachers and contributes a column, “Under the Law,” to Kappan Magazine, a journal devoted to educational issues, often used in the UWRF teacher education curriculum.

Other panelists include Tanya Misselt, director, River Falls Public Library; Leiataua Dr. Jon Peterson, private educational entrepreneur, ex-teacher and school administrator in the Roseville, Minneapolis, and St. Paul public schools; and Jessica Slaikeu, middle school teacher, Hudson Public Schools. Each has firsthand experience with issues involving individual liberties and academic freedom. Other experts include Professor Geoffrey Scheurman, UWRF Teacher Education; Professor Neil Kraus, chair of the UWRF Political Science Department; and UWRF students from educational foundations courses who will raise questions and present excerpts from essays on issues and concerns related to beginning teachers and the First Amendment.

The public forum is sponsored by UWRF’s Aspiring Educators student organization, School and Society capstone courses, UWRF College of Education and Professional Studies, and the UWRF Political Science Department. It is supported by a grant from the Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation whose mission is to promote discussion about civil liberties through scholarly inquiry, educational activities, and community outreach.

Free parking for the event will be available in Pay Lot 1 next to North Hall off 2nd Street and in Pay Lot 2 on Wild Rose Avenue behind the University Center.

For more information, email

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