Opinion: School administrators should back off student newspaper


By Dave Price
Daily Post Editor

In 2019, the Mountain View Whisman School Board decided to name an elementary school after local Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas.

Mountain View’s leaders were proud to name the school after Vargas, who came to the U.S. when he was 12, unaware that he wasn’t documented. He grew up in Mountain View with his grandparents and attended Crittenden Middle School and Mountain View High School, where he was co-editor of the student newspaper, the Oracle.

Fast forward to 2023. Mountain View High School has a rookie principal, Kim Glazer from Santa Barbara, who decides to target the Oracle.

Traditionally, Oracle journalists have not been afraid to dig into controversial subjects such as teenage drinking or homelessness.

This spring, the paper decided to look into sexual harassment on campus. To make the article legally bullet-proof, they consulted with the national Student Press Law Center, which has attorneys to help student reporters. Then, just before the article was to be published, the new principal visited the journalism class.

‘Uplift’ the school

Instead of fearlessly uncovering the truth, Principal Glazer had a different idea.

“She said that it was our job to uplift our school,” co-editor-in-chief Naina Srivastava told the Post in an interview.

Now the students would be going from journalists to PR agents.

Glazer did two more things to weaken the journalism program.

• She decided that an introduction to journalism class, a prerequisite to working on the Oracle, will be combined with the yearbook class. That could reduce the number of students who join the Oracle.

• Glazer is reassigning the teacher-adviser of the Oracle, Carla Gomez, and replacing her with the school’s drama teacher.

We would like to hear Glazer’s side of this, but she declined an interview.

That’s too bad because the students, parents and taxpayers deserve an explanation from this rookie principal.

Maybe she thinks that problems on campus will go away if she can keep them out of the paper?

A policy issue

Some people in the district are refusing to talk, saying this is a “personnel” matter because a teacher is being reassigned.

But it’s really a policy issue.

Leaning on the student journalists to water down a controversial story, choking off the flow of students to the newspaper, and telling student journalists that their job is to “uplift” readers — those are three policy changes that have nothing to do with any personnel reassignments.

Mountain View residents, who honored a former student journalist by naming a school after him, should demand answers from the Mountain View Los Altos High School District Board.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. This column was originally printed on May 22. His email address is [email protected].