This dissertation is framed by three issues: the legal and political status of children; the meaning of citizenship; and the speech rights of public school students. Just as the status of children and the meaning of citizenship have been the subject of considerable, ongoing debate within scholarly literature, the speech rights of students have been the subject of such debate within the US courts. Given the theoretical relationship between the status of children, the meaning of citizenship, and the speech rights of students, this dissertation examines judicial opinions from cases involving the students’ speech rights in order to 1) deepen our knowledge of the ways in which children’s status and the concept of citizenship are and have been understood and 2) deepen our understanding of the history and evolution of students' speech rights jurisprudence. The dissertation begins with a discussion of different visions of the status of children and the meaning of citizenship. The dissertation then uses these visions to frame a historical examination of fifty-six opinions from cases relevant to students’ speech rights. This historical examination, which spans eighty-five years (1922-2007), demonstrates that 1) judicial conceptions of children’s status and the meaning of citizenship have varied over time and been marked by ambivalence and inconsistency; 2) particular judicial conceptions of children's status and the meaning of citizenship have correlated with particular judicial positions in these cases; and 3) over time, judicial conceptions of children have coalesced around two approaches: latent citizenship and junior citizenship. Partly because of this coalescence, conceptions of citizenship have become increasingly important determinants of judicial responses students' speech rights cases. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of historical, legal, social, and educational implications of the research, including the suggestion that examining the questions implicit in the opinions--what are children and what is citizenship--should make policy and practice in this area more principled and sound and less amenable to legal challenge.
Adviser: Sigal Ben-Porath. Thesis (Ph.D. in Education) -- University of Pennsylvania, 2011. Includes bibliographical references.