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Missouri Hedges On 'Teachers Can't Friend Students' Law 102

Posted by timothy
from the hemming-and-hawing-and-free-association dept.
bs0d3 writes with an excerpt from an AP story, as carried by NECN.com: "Missouri senators took a step Wednesday toward repealing a contentious new law limiting online conversations between teachers and students, but stirred opposition from the governor by still attempting to mandate that schools adopt their own policies about online chats and text messages. The action by the Senate Education Committee comes a couple of weeks after a Missouri judge blocked the new law on teacher-Internet communications from taking effect because of concerns it infringes on free-speech rights."
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Missouri Hedges On 'Teachers Can't Friend Students' Law

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    why do we even have these useless donkey turd excuses for humans?

    • by nullCRC (320940)

      why does the child need to fucking friend a teacher on FB or vice versa?

      • by McGiraf (196030) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @09:02AM (#37338956) Homepage

        That's not the point, the point "why does the child need to fucking be legally banned from friending a teacher on FB or vice versa?"

      • Believe it or not, some people actually are friends with their teachers, especially in smaller schools.

        • by Macgrrl (762836)

          Even more likely is if you went to school in a small town, it's likely that your teachers know your parents socially. Then it gets really awkward.

      • what if the teacher was a godparent, grandparent or other relatives? what if the teacher is a non custodial parent? Could also be scout leader, sunday school teacher, neighbor, etc... and there are other examples as to why kids have teachers as friends. The law was way too vague.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Why not? The whole "friending" thing on FB has nothing to do with real friendships. Its only meaning is to allow someone to see more of your profile. WTF has that got to do with friendship I'd never know.

        Never mind that the U.S. culture has obscenely devalued the word "friend". Real friendships are rare, you can call yourself lucky if you have a dozen friends. Those would be people that you can share lots of your life with, and who truly help each other -- emotionally (lean on my shoulder) and physically (y

      • by sarhjinian (94086)

        Because, like it or not, social network technologies are important tools and it's in the interests of both students and teachers to understand and work with them, rather than pretend they don't exist and that schooling should continue exactly as it had in the 1950s. Even if (when) the technology changes, it's still a good idea to integrate and embrace it so that students and educators have some perspective on it and see how it evolves.

        We already have professional ethics and regulations that cover what's ap

      • by Jaysyn (203771)

        Could be the student's relative for one reason that took me a half a second to think of. I'm sure there are more.

      • Why does anyone need to do anything? Maybe it's because they want to.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      To defend bankers, it seems.

    • by PPH (736903)

      It keeps them off the park benches across the street from the kids' playground.

      After all: Its a serious case of projection to assume that 'friending' someone entails some sort of unwanted contact.

  • The exact same slashbots who are screaming about how unfair it is that teachers can friend students on Facebook will be the same ones screaming at the top of their lungs about Big Brother and the police state violating "privacy" rights when some stupid student posts pictures of himself committing a crime and the teacher reports it to the cops.....

    It's all part of the I want all of my "rights" without ever having any consequences to my actions philosophy of Slashdot.

    • by Triklyn (2455072)

      I don't think any online posts, other than those posted under a pseudonym or under anonymous, can claim to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. So please don't paint me with your cakey brush.

    • The Slashdot crowd response would be more like, "What an idiot, sharing the crime on FB for everyone to see". And a little few would say something on your lines, of course.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Are you oblivious? People should have a choice when they are giving up their privacy.

      Facebook may be horrible as shit, but the unintended consequences of "protect the children" are massive.

  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 08, 2011 @09:15AM (#37339076) Homepage

    It's a good thing if teachers have a Facebook account that deals with class related issues, allows students to communicate about homework, ask questions, expand the subject, etc.

    It's a bad thing if teachers have a Facebook account they use to buddy with their students simply to share pictures, schmooze, gossip and otherwise engage in behavior that is unbecoming a teacher.

    The law is entirely unnecessary as this is a matter of professional conduct to be handled on the teacher level and administration level, not a state government level. Banning Facebook in this manner is like banning teachers from using email, telephones, Skype or any other technology to communicate appropriately with students. So you want teachers to remain teaching with nothing but in person voice, chalk and blackboard for the next 300 years?

    • by randomned (669691)
      This law was much more far reaching than just Facebook; it effectively prohibited ALL online communication between students and teachers. My mom is a high school teacher, and after the law was passed, they were prohibited from using their school provided email accounts to communicate to students via their school provided email accounts.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        This law was much more far reaching than just Facebook; it effectively prohibited ALL online communication between students and teachers. My mom is a high school teacher, and after the law was passed, they were prohibited from using their school provided email accounts to communicate to students via their school provided email accounts.

        At which point, your mom should've asked for IT to create a mailing list for the class, and thta all communications take place between on the list. Benefits include everyone

        • by randomned (669691)
          Your solution for a mailing list wouldn't have worked; ALL online communication was prohibited, regardless of the medium or format.
          • by PoopCat (2218334)
            Curious (not trolling).. so if a teacher created a website with info related to their subject, and the li'l chilluns read said website, the teacher would be in violation of the law?
            • by randomned (669691)
              According to the legal counsel for the school, probably... This law had a lot of unintended consequences.
        • Private problems can still be brought up in one-on-one sessions after class.

          High school students rarely have enough time between classes to even get a drink from the water fountain, much less delve into private problems.

          Honestly, if I was a teacher, I'd avoid one-on-one emails as well - the system is too easily stacked against teachers for stuff like sexual misconduct and the like, and it's way too easy for a student to make a false accusation that gets blown way out of proportion.

          How is one-on-one face time any less likely to lead to false accusations than e-communication?

    • by Mordermi (2432580)
      I wouldn't say it's necessarily a bad thing for a teacher to friend a student as a "buddy". It is possible to have a student/teacher friendship and keep things professional. I did it when I was in school. I texted with one teacher that I had but I don't see it as unprofessional or unbecoming a teacher. She was like a mentor to me and she feels that I helped her become the great teacher that she is today and now we are good friends. In fact, if we weren't "friends" then I probably wouldn't be where I am toda
    • by tibit (1762298)

      I agree. I'd think that a teacher should have a separate facebook account for use when communicating with students. There's really no reason for students to get insights into your personal life, or to see your family pics.

    • "as this is a matter of professional conduct to be handled on the teacher level and administration level" I agree with you. However the problem is that public school teachers are Government Employees, Unionized, and have a Tenure. A lot of extra protection that could allow creepy people to stay in the system. Giving less power to Administration.

      Now for this article I am not saying Unionization, Tenure or being a Government Employee is a bad thing on the whole, but it does create a problem where you need Law

      • by winwar (114053)

        Why exactly do you think that being part of the union, having tenure, or being a government employee matters in matters of unprofessional conduct? All those things mean is that you get due process. They do not trump unprofessional conduct based on existing law which certainly covers inappropriate communication between a teacher and a student.

    • by Plunky (929104)

      It's a good thing if teachers have a Facebook account that deals with class related issues, allows students to communicate about homework, ask questions, expand the subject, etc.

      If that requires that students also have a Facebook account, just to get access to the teacher.. then that would be a horribly wrong thing. (and my experience of facebook is that if you don't have an account, you can't actually use the site)

      It's a bad thing if teachers have a Facebook account they use to buddy with their students si

    • It's a bad thing if teachers have a Facebook account they use to buddy with their students simply to share pictures, schmooze, gossip and otherwise engage in behavior that is unbecoming a teacher.

      Ummm, why? There is nothing wrong with teachers being friends with their students and doing anything a normal human being would do (within the law and school policy obviously). If they abused it by taking advantage of their position of power, or something else then yeah, it's a bad thing, but I was friends with some of my teachers when I was younger. I did gossip with them, and sometimes see or show holiday pics and things, and these were the teachers I went to when I needed advice, for example when I could

  • My mom is a high school teacher in Missouri, and this law has far reaching effects, not just with regards to Facebook. For one, the school district provides students and teachers email addresses in order to facilitate school related communication between the two in regards to homework, etc. My mom would have students email their papers and assignments regularly. Not anymore, according to this law. What about school clubs wishing to create a Facebook page or other online presence? If it's a school-sponsore
  • As a (former) teacher living in Missouri, this law is horrible. It comes from school administrators around the state going out of their way to not do their jobs. This law came about because of a fear of a teacher going from district to district who molests children, and uses electronic media as one of his tools. If there is a teacher who gets asked to find a job somewhere else because it is suspected that they have molested a student, it is the job of every school district employee to report this person
    • It sounds like the Missouri school system has the same problem as the Catholic Church.

      • It's similar across the country. There was a band teacher who was having sex with one of the students at my high school back in the day. This particular guy was smart enough to make sure she was 18, and got ousted from the district ("voluntary resignation") instead of prosecuted.

        Bizarrely enough, I was googling around trying to find his name, and found out that this has happened somewhere around 5 times since I graduated. My old high school has terrible judgement when it comes to hiring band teachers.

  • by MacAndrew (463832) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @09:44AM (#37339378) Homepage

    The schools are running scared. School IT admin seems to lag everywhere by a generation or two or three. We're going through the latest round of IT snafus in our school system as the year begins, and it's really quite sad.

    I think the blanket "protective" rules are aimed at setting up bright lines that any idiot can administer without really dealing with the human beings involved or reflecting on how porous technology makes communication to anyone determined. Seduction (in either direction) is a *social* problem not tech, and sure wasn't invented recently. These rules won't stop the problem, they're just a way of the schools burying their heads in the sand instead of dealing with the content of the problem. It's like relying on curfew to stop teenage pregnancy. Preventing abusive relationships is an education topic, not appropriate for some idiotic 50's notion that the key is to prevent the communication of "bad ideas" -- or than the medium generates the ideas!

    • And what exactly are school IT admins supposed to do about facebook etc?
      How about when an irate parent comes in and starts screaming about how little Johnny put up something nasty about little Bobby on facebook...
      after school hours...
      on a home computer...

      What do you want to do?

      When you've already banned FB and a few dozen proxy sites, but kids still find other proxies or just use their own smartphones.

      What do you do?

      When you catch kids doing sh*t on the network that is obviously against policy...
      You can't p

  • by ZankerH (1401751) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @09:50AM (#37339468)
    I enemy this.
  • The real issue... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @09:56AM (#37339522)

    The real issue is that the law does/did nothing to protect students from predatory teachers. Missouri also has a law that if a sign is posted banning hand guns in a facility, then you can't bring them in. Like the facebook law, this law also does nothing to protect people from somebody intent on doing harm (maybe the signs are made out of kevlar).

    The real problem with these types of laws are that they are emotional based to give the appearance that something is being done, when in reality, they provide little if any protections to the people they purport to protect. With regards to the facebook law, now only did it not add any real protection, but it was a poorly crafted/worded law and banned all kinds of electronic communications between teachers and students, far more than friending somebody on FB.

    Ironically, under the law as it stood, it was a criminal offense to email a student or former student but not send them an actual letter. Interestingly, since the law applied to all school personnel, not just teachers, it also meant that guidance counselors, nurses, etc., could not communicate with the students electronically. Makes it kind of hard to send out information regarding scholarships, too.

    The law could have avoided all of this by only restricting communications that would not be outside of the realm of what constitutes normal communications between a school employee and a student. That way, a counselor creating a FB page regarding scholarships information or when recruiters will be at the high school would not be illegal.

    In effect, that is what the legislative committee is recommending -- that these types of decisions (ie acceptable use of electronic communications) be set on the local level by local authorities.

    It may take a village to raise a child, but it doesn't require the government to do so.

    • The law could have avoided all of this by only restricting communications that would not be outside of the realm of what constitutes normal communications between a school employee and a student. That way, a counselor creating a FB page regarding scholarships information or when recruiters will be at the high school would not be illegal.

      I grew up before the days of Facebook, but I had a few teachers that I'd consider friends. Isn't a close relationship between teacher and student something to be celebrated

    • I thought the "no handguns" signs were a response to lax gun laws which say you can take yer gun anywhere, not an attempt to stop gun crimes. Feel intimidated by a visibly armed redneck? Well, unless you posted a sign saying he couldn't bring a gun into your business, he's not doing anything wrong. it's not going to stop a robber, obviously, but it might help ensure you're not accidentally shot by someone playing hero.
  • . . . . attempts to legislate fads are a really BAD idea.

  • by McGiraf (196030)

    You do not need a law to preent you from doing it to not do it.

  • if only for the fact that it erodes a recently established missouri law that permits teachers to consider and present "alternative theories" of sciences such as evolution in the class as a form of free speech.
  • I have a very close friend who is a flaming liberal. I am a pretty ultra conservative. We get into all kinds of fun debates. Fine. She is a teacher.

    She has a multitude of student facebook friends, many under 18, many in her class or have been in her class who view her as a role model and intellectual. She is very prolific about her position, politics and social issues on facebook. I would think this is probably ok in the current atmosphere.

    What if she was an ultra religious conservative preaching the 4,
    • > Would it still wash when little Jenny asks mom why her family is going to hell for not accepting Jesus as their savior?

      Sounds like the perfect time for little Jenny to get The Religion Lecture from mom, whatever flavor that lecture takes. Public school is not an excuse for parents to farm out all education and discussion of morality, ethics, and belief/skepticism.

    • It's Missouri. It'd be more likely that someone would complain if she were arguing that same-sex marriage should be legal.
    • by winwar (114053)

      This would not be considered best professional practice in all states (friending students). It is strongly suggested in my state that teachers do not have facebook pages. If they should choose to have them, they should be private, and students should never be friended.

      It is an excellent way to lose your job.

  • One of my daughter's teachers from last year has an email form on his teacherweb site.
    Her current teacher (different school) gave them a long lecture that email assignments need to be sent from their parents' account since she will not even open an email that looks that it was sent by her student.

    Different strokes.

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      I wonder what this is supposed to accomplish? Making sure that the parents know the assignment was done?

      Of course, it's a rather lousy method given how easy getting a different email address is today, nor that 'most' people stay logged into their email accounts - kids starts up family computer sends out email using parent's account. Done.

  • having a police officer escort each teacher around school to make sure they don't talk to students about anything but homework? If they as much as MENTION that they're having a good/bad/etc. day, they can just be arrested on the spot for having a personal conversation with a student. Cuz we all know teachers aren't people, and if the students found that out, jeez....what would happen next? I can see a huge playground orgy involving teachers and students right now.

    Preventing all teachers from being able to t

  • It's akin to making the use of pencils and pens illegal because of the ability to use them as weapons.

    The tools and means for criminal activity will always exist; the key is to remove the desire for them and to isolate the individuals who cannot control themselves from harmful desire.

    It's unfortunate but realistic news, people... If someone wants to do bad, they're going to do it. One thing that is a psychological fact is that when you make someone feel that they aren't allowed to do something, they are mor

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  • It seems as though these types of laws, while intending to protect, end up regulating or imposing sanctions while providing very little in real protection. We know from the research in education that the creation of student-teacher relationships is critical to student engagement in school. Haven't many of us had teacher role models that made a big impact on our life? Facebook and other technology platforms simply create ways for us to develop those relationships in new and meaningful ways. Our recent st

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