For Immediate Release:
National Sunshine Week, March 12 – 18, 2017
Journalists, Attorneys to Speak at Local Schools and Colleges
On Freedom of Speech and Open Government Rights
Issues of Free Speech and public access to government information are in today’s headlines as much as they were in the minds of the nation’s Founders when they developed the First Amendment to the United States Constitution more than two centuries ago.
“Developments in Washington, Hartford and in town centers across Connecticut demonstrate that Free Speech is a treasured American liberty but one constantly under assault,” says Mitchell Pearlman of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government (CFOG). “These are the public’s liberties and the public needs to be unendingly vigilant to protect them. That begins with education.”
In connection with National Sunshine Week, (March 12-18) CFOG and other organizations dedicated to freedom of speech and open government rights have launched a pilot program of distinguished journalists and attorneys visiting classrooms across the state to personalize and supplement academic instruction on the First Amendment’s history and role in the public’s daily interests.
The journalist-lawyer teams will speak with high school and college students about the history of Free Speech and open government rights, examine continuing challenges to these freedoms and chart how individuals can utilize them most effectively.
Initial sites in the pilot program include East Lyme High School, Platt High School in Meriden, Lyman Hall in Wallingford, The University of Connecticut in Storrs, Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Western Connecticut State University in Danbury and Quinnipiac University in Hamden.
“Journalists from major newspapers, web-pages and broadcasting will join attorneys who have specialized in Free Speech issues to share their long experience in applying First Amendment liberties to sustaining the sunshine on government activities done in the public’s name,” says Pearlman, an educator, author, Free Speech activist and former Executive Director of the state’s Freedom of Information Commission.
“Whether it is the policies of Washington figures or local officials in state and town government, the pressure to muffle the public’s rights of open government and Free Speech in unrelenting,” Pearlman says. “It is not partisan or regional. It happens everywhere – always at the public’s expense.”
To increase awareness of the long-hallowed rights, presenters will not only examine the history of Free Speech in America but examine ways that citizens – including students – can utilize laws and regulations to protect their speech and get access to information being closely held by the government.
“It is most significant,” Pearlman says, “that the Founders, in seeking to improve on the already majestic Constitution, enshrined Freedom of Speech in what became the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights. It’s that important. Only through vigilance and sunshine can those rights be protected. We are proud to be part of the effort to emphasize to today’s students their rights and liberties.”
For more information: Contact: Mitchell Pearlman at (860) 881-3517 or see www.ctfog.org.