Rational Behavior

In a comment on the previous post, Dean reminds us that not all principals overreact to student “potential subversiveness”.

In an email to the students he actually gives them something to think about.

I do admire your enthusiasm — and I just encourage you to remember with great power comes great responsibility — I think Uncle Ben said that!

And anyone who quotes a Stan Lee creation, is ok in my book!

That’s The Offending Word?

Can a student be punished for language critical of school administrators posted on their personal blog? How about if the principal finds one of the words employed offensive?

In at least one case, an appeals court says they can.

The Court of Appeals noted that adults may have a constitutional right to use vulgar or offensive speech in order to make a point, but that it “may legitimately give rise to disciplinary action by a school” if a school is responsible for “teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior.” Although Avery made her statements off school grounds and outside of school hours, they were related to school activities and ultimately caused some level of disruption within the school setting.

If this was a wild rant with a purpose of inciting students to violent or illegal behavior, I might agree with this ruling.

However, if you read the entry, there is none of that. It’s actually rather tame with the possible exception of that one word used to describe the administrators. A word that goes unbleeped on broadcast television.

All of which makes the court’s action somewhat disturbing.

The decision concerns free speech advocates because of the cloudy nature of the blog post. No threats were made and no major student demonstrations occurred–at most, the students were a bit “riled up” (according to Avery’s testimony) over having their event possibly cancelled and their student council going to great lengths to turn the decision around. Most importantly, the decision will likely be used as further precedent in the future for schools (and possibly colleges and universities) to take action against students for their postings around the ‘Net.

It probably won’t be long before another principal decides to take action against a student for a blog post with no “bad” words, one that simply takes exception with school policy.

Quick, Block Del.icio.us

I’m not a fan of internet filtering systems. At all!

Simply banning web sites doesn’t teach students anything about safely using the net and it excuses some educators from having to manage web access.

However, I do understand that filters are a political reality and that there is some material on the internet that needs to be blocked from student view.

But del.icio.us?

One high school in this area has added that seemingly benign utility to their blacklist because of how one student was using his account.

It seems he was posting recommended sites for his friends, some of which the school administration thought were instructionally inappropriate. Including new tools for bypassing the filtering system at the school.

So, we blame the technology and ban it instead of acknowledging that this student has a much better idea of just how useful del.icio.us is than his teachers do.

Scrubbing Your Digital Image

We tell students to be careful about what they put online since the web is very persistent. Those posts may come back to haunt you when you’re looking for work later in life.

A recent survey by ExecuNet, a networking organization for business leaders, found that 83 percent of executives and corporate recruiters research job candidates online, and 43 percent have eliminated a candidate based on search results.

However, it seems that there are entrepreneurs who can repair all those MySpace indiscretions of youth and “clean the skeletons out of your digital closet”.

For a price, of course.

To dig yourself out, you may have to get a pro to create new Web pages that accentuate your positives. Figure that it will cost at least $1,000 to bump all the negative hits off your first three search-results pages. But prices vary according to the number of hits and how difficult they are to move, so shop aggressively.

I wonder just how many positive web pages I’d have to pay for to counteract the ranting I’ve done around here.

Teachers Gone Wild (Online Edition)

With all the stories in the media about kids posting inappropriate information online – and all the warnings about the consequences down the line – you might think they would have learned something by now.

Or maybe that their teachers would at least be paying attention by this time.

Maybe not.

The Post seems to have found an epidemic* of local teachers who are posting “overtly sarcastic or unintentionally unprofessional” and “risque” material on social networking sites.

But the crudeness of some Facebook or MySpace teacher profiles, which are far, far away from sanitized Web sites ending in “.edu,” prompts questions emblematic of our times: Do the risque pages matter if teacher performance is not hindered and if students, parents and school officials don’t see them? At what point are these young teachers judged by the standards for public officials?

Good questions. But I’m not sure this teacher is particularly bright with her answers.

“I know that employers will look at that page, and I need to be more careful,” said Webster, adding that other Prince William teachers have warned her about her page. “At the same time, my work and social lives are completely separate. I just feel they shouldn’t take it seriously. I am young. I just turned 22.”

Considering how many lawyers we have in this area (along with a corresponding number of paranoid school administrators), it’s pretty much a matter of time before this person gets fired.

However, I’m not sure it really matters (and not because she may have lousy judgement).

Many beginning teachers don’t really see their time in the classroom as a career, more as simply a job to hold for a while until they decide to do something else.

Studies regularly show that more than 30% of new teachers will bail out before their fifth year, so likely they’re leaving anyway.

And that probably also says something about the way our society views the teaching profession in the first place.

[*Of course, an epidemic to the Post could be as little as the four or five examples they located for the article.]