Thursday, June 01, 2006

School District to Police Students' Online Activities

So this is a little creepy (to me)...

School District to Police Students' Online Activities (audio available shortly)
A suburban Illinois school district is extending its disciplinary policy to the Internet. Administrators at Vernon Hills and Libertyville High Schools maintain that just as students are barred from smoking or drinking anywhere off campus, they can also be punished for posting "inappropriate" material online on sites such as Sandy Hausman reports.

This new policy in these schools says that teachers and school administrators can respond to things that students post (for example, on MySpace or their own personal blogs) and take action (for example, detention, suspension, etc.).

The law is murky on exactly what is actionable. Some say that they're looking for rumors of off-campus hazing and those sort of activities. However, it may also apply to students talking about smoking. It could even apply to students simply using foul language on-line. It could mean that students in K-12 have no free speech rights.

Parents in the area either largely agree with the policy or have been ignorant. Only one parent showed up (at the school board?) to protest this new policy. It is expected that as students suffer more and more penalties for things they WRITE ON-LINE, more parents will start getting involved.

It is expected that more school districts across the nation are going to start doing this.

What sort of message does this send to kids? Doesn't this teach them to ACCEPT much *MORE* violations of their civil liberties later on life? (from things like the Patriot Act?) Isn't this setting a dangerous precedent?

So watch out... and think about how much your kids' free speech matters to you. (and to the future of the country, really)

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