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Is this just Conservative Paranoia?

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Let's think about this a moment, what does a teacher mean to his/her students?

Through personal experience I learned that teachers were the first people outside of family that I could trust. Not only did they provide knowledge in the classroom but they could also become mentors in life. Unless you live in Missouri:


Social networking is a good tool for learning if used in a responsible manner. Anyone who uses the various networking sites understands that there are public and private forums. So perhaps little Johnny might find it difficult to discuss some inner thoughts in the classroom, or post them on the Facebook wall, but what about the private questions he might have, where do they get discussed? Not in Missouri.

I see this as harmful to LBGT students who see a favorite teacher as a mentor. A teacher that they see every day and have come to trust. But the wording of the law even forbids former students from Facebook contact and that is a step too far even if I didn't disagree with the whole premise of this law in the first place.

Why stop with teachers? Why not paint ministers and priests with the same wide brush as potential miscreants? They have a worse track record these days. This smacks of censorship and tramples on the rights of parents to raise their children. As a parent I would rather have little Johnny ask a trusted teacher about his gay feelings than see the boy sneak off onto websites where he might meet a truly dangerous individual. I mean...WTF Missouri. If I lived there I would think about migration.

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As a teacher, I don't accept friend requests from students on Facebook. It just doesn't seem professional to me.

First, there's the matter of the teachers' privacy. While I don't post anything too personal myself, I can't control what other people post on my wall. Also, I'm friends with several co-workers, and becoming friends with students would allow them access to OTHER teachers' posts.

Second, there's a line of familiarity that you don't cross with students. I teach in a high-poverty inner-city school. A lot of my students don't have their parents around, leading to a lot of abandonment issues (and, not uncommonly, attachment disorder). For their sake, I need to make it clear that I love them, I care about them, but I'm their teacher - not their parent, not their friend. It may seem cold, but I think it's important. If your teacher gives you a detention, or fails you on an assignment, or refers you to the office, it's their job - you may not like it, but it's not personal. If your FRIEND does it, it's a betrayal, and it hurts.

We've had some issues with teachers and students on Facebook, as well. Nothing inappropriate from the teacher's side, but we've had students forget that they've added teachers, only to post pictures of their drug stash, guns, condoms, inappropriate pictures of themselves, or messages about what sexual adventures they've had with other students. That puts the school in a position where we're legally obligated to report the kids and their parents to the police, which is always dangerous considering how many of the parents have gang ties. It's not a good position to be in.

As for the educational uses of social networking, there's a website I was introduced to at an Educational Tech convention - www.edmodo.com - that is basically Facebook for students, teachers, and parents. It's open to parents, so they know that nothing inappropriate is going on, and it's separate from the teachers' and students' personal sites, so it doesn't run the risk of sharing private information.

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In theory I don't see a problem with it.

In practice, there is too much room for error.

I would be a pretty boring facebook friend. All you get are smart-assed status messages like:

jamessavik thinks there are too many people running around with cell phones that are smarter than they are.

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As a parent with two kids, I have to say this legislation is downright wrong. What business does the government have coming into my home and telling me how to raise my children, what I can or cannot do in my own home, with my own children? The damn liberals in this country just want to...wait. Oh yeah, it's not liberals trying to tell people what to do with their private lives, it's conservatives.

Go figure.

So much for smaller government...

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