Teachers Reject New Facebook Law

teacher_laptopThe Missouri Teachers’ Union is very much ready to fight a new law that will prohibit them from adding their students as friends on Facebook. This new piece of legislation is set to be implemented later this month, and the union is dead set on getting it repealed. The teachers believe that this law is an overt violation of free speech and that it’s far too vague to be of any good use.

The whole issue began when 87 Missouri teachers lost their licenses due to sexual misconduct. Some of the teachers had been communicating with the students in private, exchanging lewd messages on social networking sites such as Facebook.

The new law hoped to put a stop to such activities by prohibiting Teacher-Student contact on Facebook or any other social networking site. The only exception made was when the teachers would contact the students on sites where parents or administrators are present to oversee the matter. They may also send e-mails and text messages, as long as they cc the message to someone else. Teachers may setup a public Facebook page where students can then “like” the page. This will allow for open and direct communication between teachers, students and parents.

One teacher has filed a lawsuit challenging the bill because it would prohibit her from contacting her own child via Facebook. Apparently, the school sent notice to all teachers advising them that can’t contact their own children on social networking sites if they meet the statutory definition of student or former student.

The bill has received mix reviews. Some believe it is a good way to address the issue of sexual abuse in schools. One study found that almost 10 percent of public school students reported they were sexually harassed or abused by an educator.

Charol Shakeshaft, a professor of educational leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, stated the following:

‘Exclusive and private contact with your students isn’t educationally necessary,’ she told the site. ‘In the same way that in a school we would say, “No, you may not lock yourself into a room with a student,” this law effectively says, “No you may not lock yourself into a website where only you can get to the student.”

Critics of the bill say it will impede their ability to communicate with their students for legitimate purposes. Some teachers have used Facebook and other social sites for years now as effective tools of communication.

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