In his Nov. 17 op-ed column, Nat Hentoff grievously twists the message of my Sept. 22 letter that argued that if high school journalists are allowed to become accustomed to printing their own views "unsupervised and unrestrained," they are spoiled for work in the real world, where editors and publishers will overrule them "pretty often."

Mr. Hentoff says my letter "emphasized" that "in the real world ... the First Amendment does not apply."

Of course, I said no such thing. How on Earth could anyone argue that the First Amendment does not apply to newspapers?

My letter merely pointed out that newspaper writers do not have the freedom to publish whatever they choose. It would be a crazy "real world," if the First Amendment required a publisher to print anything a reporter wrote whether the publisher liked it or not.

Without knowing the details of the Tinker case, I would have estimated that students' First Amendment rights amount to just about the ones Mr. Hentoff says came out of that case. He writes, "student journalists {have} a lot more room to write news and opinions that the principal would think twice about censoring for fear of being censured in court. On the other hand, no judge ... said the students had license to print anything they wanted to."

School authorities' action (of which Mr. Hentoff evidently disapproves) in requiring a newspaper staff to print articles in support of a bond issue for school funds conveys a picture of an adversarial relationship between students and the authorities. In a typical situation, though, the student editor would seek out the principal for a story on that bond issue. The editor who overlooked such a story would be missing an opportunity to educate his readers on the source of education funds. Who can blame the principal who tried to correct such an oversight?

Yes, student journalists have their rights. School authorities have rights and responsibilities. EDWIN C. FISHEL Arlington