Yesterday’s Washington Post had an editorial about a misguided trend among state legislatures to ban communication between students and teachers through sites like Facebook and Twitter:
However, in some places, new laws and proposed measures are impeding teacher communication with students outside of school-sanctioned e-mail systems. The most recent practitioner of educational technophobia is Missouri, which last month adopted legislation intended to ban direct communication between teachers and students via Facebook.
The law is so broad it could effectively also bar student-teacher contact via Gmail or other non-school e-mail services. “No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a nonwork-related Internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student,” the law reads.
The Post editorial board makes a good case against laws like this. I agree that these laws seem overly broad. I think are they well-intentioned as ways to prevent inappropriate relationships between students and teachers, but that banning Facebook messages is overkill. Facebook is just another means of communication, a platform more than 10 percent of the people in the world use.
Banning Facebook interactions seems analogous to prohibiting telephone contact between students and teachers. A private Facebook message can be sent even between users who don’t have a friend relationship, just as telephone conversations can happen between anyone via cell or land line. Should there be laws against phone calls too?
What do you think about these laws banning Facebook messaging in the schools?