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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

School district monitoring student blogs

Teen bloggers beware — a school district in Illinois is instituting a new policy.

From an AP report:

The board of Community High School District 128 voted unanimously on Monday to require that all students participating in extracurricular activities sign a pledge agreeing that evidence of "illegal or inappropriate" behavior posted on the Internet could be grounds for disciplinary action.

The rule will take effect at the start of the next school year, officials said.

District officials won't regularly search students' sites, but will monitor them if they get a worrisome tip from another student, a parent or a community member.

Mary Greenberg of Lake Bluff, who has a son at Libertyville High School, argued the district is overstepping its bounds.

"I don't think they need to police what students are doing online," she said. "That's my job."

Associate Superintendent Prentiss Lea rebuffed that criticism.

"The concept that searching a blog site is an invasion of privacy is almost an oxymoron," he said. "It is called the World Wide Web."

May 23, 2006 at 11:00 AM in Got blog? | Permalink


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Sounds more like a freedom of speech issue than privacy. Schools can make students cover-up offensive t-shirts while they're in class, but they can't dictate what they wear or say once they leave the building. Can they?

Posted by: rpadula | May 23, 2006 1:45:11 PM

Since the school is basically an arm of the government, they shouldn't even be able to tell students what to wear, let alone police their blogs. Why doesn't the constitution fully apply to schools, since they are part of the government?

And what is "inappropriate" behavior anyway? Do they delve beyond that vague standard or just leave it open, I wonder?

Posted by: Charity | May 23, 2006 3:19:32 PM

I'd have to do some research to find the case, but I think there's a pecedent SCOTUS case regarding free speech and high school students and basically, the upshot is constitution doesn't apply if you're a minor in high school. I agree that it's stupid and it's just the sort of thing I got all bent out of shape over when I was in HS, but oh well...

Posted by: Bill Simmon | May 23, 2006 3:49:36 PM

Sounds like typical American stuff. Depressing as hell to see it get this bad, but it was really just a matter of time. As soon as you have drug testing for student athletes, there's really nothing left....this is just the same policy in digital form.

My only question is: will the school actually be paying someone to search for that stuff?

Posted by: Justin Boland | May 24, 2006 7:32:31 AM

I'm not sure this is all that different from the universities that are disciplining students for their Facebook postings.

I have concerns about this as well, but I also think that people need to be accountable for stuff they put online. If kids are using their MySpace pages to organize classmates in bullying campaigns against other kids, how should we deal with that?

I think adults need to be aware of what's happening in their kids' online lives. Does that mean that the school should be involved? I'm not sure. But at some point maybe it rises to the level of a school issue, rather than a parent issue. For example, if what kids are posting online is creating an unsafe atmosphere at the school.

I'm interested to see how this debate evolves.

Posted by: cresmer | May 24, 2006 9:30:06 AM

For example, if what kids are posting online is creating an unsafe atmosphere at the school.

Okay, but do you really need a special policy making students sign a pledge. Illegal activity online is already illegal, right? If the students published a zine that advocated killing a teacher, the school wouldn't need a signed pledge to take action.

While I agree that students need to act responsibly--both on and offline--that's all part of being young. Making those initial mistakes is part of growing up. Yes, parents and teachers should be involved in the kids' lives, but this policy isn't that--it's just more coersion and repression from the authority figures. It doesn't help, it hurts.


Posted by: Bill Simmon | May 24, 2006 1:19:29 PM

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