School Punishes Student For Blogging From Home

School 8 Schools across the country are cracking down on student computer use; blocking social sites and proxy servers. Many schools are perfectly within their right to prevent teenagers from frequenting sites like MySpace, Facebook and Xanga while using school hardware. In all actuality, there is no real need for students to be on such social sites at school when it could impede on studying and perhaps pose a danger to the student (internet predators).

Do schools try to reach to far? This article seems to think so, as there is another school – Plainfield School District in Illinois – attempting to reach into the homes of its students and lay the smack down.

A 17-year-old student who posted on his blog site that he was being bullied and threatened by the Plainfield School District will face an expulsion hearing this week, a local attorney said.

Back in November, Pope John XXIII Regional Highschool decided to stretch their rights a little far and reach into the home of their students, threatening suspension to anyone that failed to delete their accounts on various social networking sites. My post – School Bans Social Websites – discusses this school’s attempt at control and has been met with a huge onslaught of student irritation.

Students are generally unhappy with this type of control – as well as the simple blocking of sites that many schools are doing – and are reacting in the only way they can…with their voice. They comment on my blog expressing their opinions (I’ve had 119 comments on that blog post as of this posting and they are still rolling in), they complain on their social sites, they blog. The 17 in this article blogged the following on May 2 (without mentioning the school the student wrote):

“I feel threatened by you, I cant even have a public Web page with out you bullying me and telling me what has to be removed. Where is this freedom of speech that this government is sworn to uphold? … Did you ever stop to think this will start a community backlash? The kids at Columbine did what the did because they were bullied. … In my opinion you are the real threat here. None of us ever put in our xanga’s that they were going to kill or bring harm to any one. We voiced our opinions. You are the real threat here. you are depriving us of our right to learn. now stick that in your pipe and smoke it.”

What are the school districts thinking? It is the parents job to police student’s internet usage at home, NOT the school’s. It doesn’t matter if the school doesn’t like the sites students visit or if a student says something bad about his school…they may be kids but don’t they get some level of free speech? The article states:

Superintendent John Harper, who cannot comment on student cases, said the district will take action if it believes there is a safety issue. Meanwhile a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union said school districts must be careful not to discipline students on matters that occur outside school. The student’s attorney believes Plainfield School District is overstepping its boundaries.

“The district is going to take away the student’s education for exercising his freedom of speech,” said attorney Carl Buck. “I feel like they are trying to control his freedom of speech. … He is saying, ‘You can’t bully people and we have a right to object and you can’t throw people out of school for voicing their opinions.'”

Schools simply need to wake up and smell the coffee. Block social sites at school if its impeding on school work, but don’t threaten and punish the kids for doing things at home. Educate them on the dangers of the internet and educate the families on the need for some policing of internet usage at home. I want schools to teach my kids (when I have them), not parent them.

In closing, here’s a line from the article sums up my opinions:

“It is not a crime to write things on the Internet – though we find them offensive, troubling and disheartening, it is not a crime[.]”

School Bans Social Websites

This is week-and-a-half-old news, however it struck a nerve so I figured I’d post it. According to this article on App.com, Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, NJ is threatening students to make them stop participating in social networking with websites such as MySpace, Facebook and Xanga. The article states:

Effective immediately, and over student complaints, the teens were told to dismantle their Myspace.com accounts or similar sites with personal profiles and blogs. Defy the order and face suspension, students were told.

While public and private schools routinely block access to noneducational Web sites on school computers, Pope John’s order reaches into students’ homes.

The primary impetus behind the ban is to protect students, McHugh said. The Web sites, popular forums for students to blog about their lives and feelings about their teachers and schools, are fertile ground for sexual predators to gather information about children, he said.

While it seems like the school is trying to protect its students, they are going about it the wrong way. Its a violation of free speech to police the students in this way. Educating the students about the dangers of a web presence would be a more reasonable approach.

Web Expressions – Blog Spotlights

I was reading over all of your blogs today and came accross one that I think has a very interesting topic that warrants some response and comments. Check out “Russo’s Blog” and her post about “School Life.” Read it, comment on it…get a discussion going. Perhaps use that to fuel a post on your blog as well.

If you are into Football and want some sweet info on the recent Pats game, check out these blogs:

The End Zone
mbegalle’s personal blog

As the semester moves on I will spotlight various people. There are a lot of good blog posts out there, but on occasion I’ll just handpick a couple that catch my eye or just to push people to read others’ blogs. (you see, reading blogs is just as important as posting them!) Try to find a couple that interest you and watch them. Post responses in their comment sections. Post responses in your blog that quote them! Lets get some social networking going :D