The U.S. Supreme Court failed the nation 25 years ago when it ruled in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier that educators may wield editorial control over student publications without violating the First Amendment.The decision came after a Missouri principal removed articles about teen pregnancy and divorce from a high school newspaper. But high school is a perfect time for students to develop the critical thinking skills they need, especially about such sensitive topics, and student publications can be an important part of the process.Students should be challenged with a variety of materials spanning a range of beliefs and ideas, many that may differ from what they've been taught at home or in places of worship.Instead, the court said administrators can stifle speech they consider "inconsistent with 'the shared values of a civilized social order'" so long as their censorship is "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns."To me, the ruling was a travesty.Seven years earlier, I was co-editor in chief of The Echo, the Webster Groves (Mo.) High School student paper. We tussled with the school district all year, starting with an article I wrote about a failed bond issue.I didn't write the article particularly well, but the substance was solid. It angered district Superintendent Warren Brown.He harangued us for more than an hour, calling the piece "sloppy and irresponsible."That set the tone for our relationship with the district. And when we ran stories about contraceptives, premarital sex and student mothers, school board member Dan Sullivan decided we'd gone too far.He moved to suspend publication until the board could establish a written publishing policy.He didn't get a second, but Sullivan persisted. Although we ultimately outlasted him, we panted under the threat of censorship the rest of the year.We didn't stand alone. The American Civil Liberties Union, Association for Women in Communications, Society of Professional Journalists and Student Press Law Center lent support.The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran stories and later a supportive editorial titled "Things That Loom In The Spring," asking, "Why do people who are hostile to the world of ideas invariably surface in those public agencies dedicated to their furtherance?"It was a stressful time. Teachers said things like, "You have constitutional rights. But what about responsibility, decency and good taste?"We could have made people happy by confining ourselves to stories about AV Club bake sales, but that wouldn't have made students more celibate or less pregnant. Unfortunately, discussion about those very real issues got hijacked by a censorship debate.Most censorship calls begin with good intentions. We must protect national security. We don't want to promote immoral activity. We don't want to offend. But what we're really saying is that we don't trust others with challenging information.We don't trust that they'll come to the "right" conclusion. We can't let students read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn -- the greatest American novel -- because they might not see in Huck a dawning national realization that slaves were people.These paternalistic instincts shackle minds. College students become disoriented when given open-ended assignments because they've become accustomed to being told precisely what to do.Failing to challenge students is myopic, particularly when so much of our political discourse occurs in an echo chamber. We are FOX News households or MSNBC News households. To find the truth we must challenge our beliefs. That requires many voices and critical thinking skills.The court's Hazelwood ruling is regrettable. But the American experience is not one linear story of enlightenment. It wasn't that long ago when the shared values of a civilized social order countenanced segregation.The true genius of the American experiment has been a striving for truth. And as long as there are students learning to ask questions and hold those in power accountable, the future can't be that bleak.Geoff Campbell teaches journalism and advertising at the University of Texas at Arlington.