Your editorial “Re-education at Newton North,” in which you criticize school ofﬁcials in Newton for forgetting “which country tolerates free speech and protest” for punishing a student on a school exchange for his prodemocracy messages, missed an important point.
As a retired Newton High School teacher who took part in the ﬁrst Newton-Beijing exchange in the mid-1980s, I am mindful of the many years it took to bring this program to fruition because of the work of Dick and Claire Kanter and former superintendents Aaron Fink and John Strand. Many students, both Chinese and American, have beneﬁted from this exchange over nearly three decades.
This student’s careless self-indulgence is not a question of free speech. His actions — in expressing his thoughts and in his inadequate apology — have jeopardized a program that has educated students from both cultures in the strengths and weaknesses of both countries by living, observing, and participating in a host country. Sometimes words are not needed.
Actions create consequences. The punishment was justiﬁed.