It amazes me that I am even writing about this.

Yesterday, I read Klein’s (April 8, 2014), Longtime Substitute Teacher Leaves Job After Being Told To Unfriend Students on Facebook, and didn’t think much of it.  But today, I read Whitby’s (April 9, 2014) sloppy critique (see Revoked Rights For Educators), which made me take another look.

I read a post today about a teacher in a New Hampshire school district who was forced into retirement for refusing to unfriend students on Facebook.

If you are going to comment on another post, at least provide a link back to the source.  I will assume Whitby is referring to Klein’s piece.

I lived in the community in which I taught for 25 years. This is not unlike many educators in our country. At no time during my tenure in that district did anyone call me into an office and instruct me on how to interact with the children of the community.

It’s not clear if he is referring to that last 25 years to the present, or some 25-year period in the past; regardless, it’s impossible to compare his context with the context of Thebarge’s, given what we know.

No one told me I could not be friends with children in the community. I was never told where I could, or could not go in that community. I don’t think any administrator would have even considered such a discussion. Yet, these are the discussions some administrators are having with teachers today about their social media communities.

It’s easy to get lost in the vagueness.  What does it mean exactly to be “friends” with children in the community? And is befriending students in facebook the same as befriending students outside social media?  Perhaps the issue here is not whether teachers are friends with students, but what type of behavior is appropriate between teachers and students.  I get the feeling that Whitby is trying to compare teacher-to-student relationships before social media with teacher-to-student relationships via social media.  He’s trying to compare apples with oranges.

Statistics tell us that our children are more in danger from family, close family friends, and even clergy, much more than people on the Internet

First, when forming an argument, include the source (citation or link).  Fine, there are statistics out there that support your argument.  But it weakens your argument if you are unable to tell the reader where you got the information; this allows the reader can make a more informed decision on how valid, reliable, and unbiased the statistics are.  Second, the evidence here compares family, close family friends, and clergy with everyone else on the Internet.  Klein’s piece has to do more with teachers than all other people on the internet.  And since I don’t have access to the statistics I can’t confirm this, but is it not a stretch to think that relationships with teachers might also fall within the category of family, close family friends, and even clergy?

I heard a TV celebrity say recently that parents need not prepare the road for their children, but they must prepare their children for the road.

In other words, prepare students to expect some teachers to behave inappropriately with them.

Social media communities are open to the public where everyone sees all.

Again, apples and oranges.  Facebook, unless it’s a public page, is not quite the same as an open community.

Some people will be inappropriate, but the community will deal with that as it develops and matures. 

Incredible.  I would love to see how this would go over at a school board meeting.  “Parents, realize that some people (teachers) will behave inappropriately, but don’t worry.  The community (school) will deal with this as it develops and matures.”  Right…no need to take preventative measures, or take action to try to prevent bad things from happening.  Sure, you might argue that Stevens High didn’t do enough (absent of any real details of the entire story), but still…

If administrators are fearful that their image, or that of the school will be tarnished by people speaking publicly about the school, then maybe these administrators should look at themselves, or their policies. 

So administrators of Stevens High are shutting down facebook because they are fearful of their image, or that the school will be tarnished by people speaking publicly about the school?  Well, perhaps, but without knowing all of the details, I have to think that it’s also possible that they are just very concerned that teachers and students conducted themselves appropriately going forward.  The post seems to suggest that they did try to allow teachers to use facebook (against school policy) until they had problems. And we also do not know what other measures they are taking in addition to disallowing facebook.

I cannot see any court supporting the idea that a person gives up a constitutional right, just because they are employed by some backward thinking school district.

Again, it’s impossible to know just how “backward” Stevens High is without knowing the details.  I’m just surprised at the rush to judgment when the seriousness of an inappropriate student/teacher relationship seems to be an afterthought.

It amazes me that I am even writing about this.

I couldn’t agree with you more!


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