Via the NCTE InBox email they send around every once in a while, I discovered this USA Today article, “Students, officials locking horns over blogs.” Here’s a passage I think is kind of interesting:
School boards across the country already have blocked sites such as MySpace and Facebook on school computers. But school districts now are reaching into students’ home computers, severely punishing and even expelling students for what they write on those sites from home.
â€¢A student at an Indianapolis-area school was expelled for making sexually explicit comments about a teacher on MySpace.
â€¢Officials at a Pittsburgh school kicked a student off the volleyball team for an Internet message that criticized an art teacher.
â€¢A cheerleader at a Fort Worth-area school was kicked off the squad for derogatory comments someone posted on her blog about other cheerleaders.
The issue has created a free-speech debate between school administrators who are worried about the disruption of the learning process on one hand; and students, parents and First Amendment advocates who are worried about whether overzealous school boards are overstepping their bounds on the other. The debate is beginning to be explored in courts.
“Some courts have said that speech which is done on school computers is clearly within the domain of the administration to set reasonable standards for. Some have said if it’s off-site, then the students are fully protected. Some have said if it can be read by people on the school premises, then it comes within the jurisdiction of the school board,” says Tom Clarke, a San Francisco attorney who works on First Amendment questions. “Those are the three crazy standards that currently exist.”
I must say though– and they kind of talk about this later in the article– schools are kind of between a rock and a hard place on this one. I mean, one of the critiques against the Columbine-type tragedies is that these students are giving off warning signs, and they are often giving off warning signs in writing. Of course, banning these writings doesn’t stop them.
Oh, and in case you are wondering: to be “dooced” is web/blog lingo for being fired.