With the rise of social media in our digital world, we can hardly find a teenager today without a Facebook or Twitter account. The same holds true for teachers and school administrators. The world has been inundated with the online world of sociality. So what's the problem with all this openness, chatting, picture posting, and tweeting?
It's too much closeness according to Missouri, which passed a law to ban social media communication between students and teachers. The law has since been blocked by a state court. The "Facebook Law" has been a hot debate topic for the last several months. Education advocates in other states are interested, watching the outcome in Missouri as well as the attempts by teachers unions to reverse the law.
While the Facebook Law is well-intentioned to help prevent sexual abuse or online bullying, those who argue against the law say, "Don't punish the medium." Inappropriate student-teacher relationships and bullying will continue to happen no matter the format of solicitation. Hence, the narrow-minded law doesn't really protect, and in effect, reduces student-teacher First Amendment rights because of its broad, overarching vagueness.
Teachers are suing not only for this reduction in free speech but also for the decision to be local whether or not to use the tool of social media to enhance the learning experience. Banning new technology is never the answer to the challenges it brings.
What does matter is educating teachers and students how to use social media properly without the lazy solution of just cutting it out of the classroom altogether. As many know, social media brings many benefits, as aptly said in this blog post on Connected Principals.
Likely to affect both public and private school social media policies in the future, this Facebook Law, or the reversal of it, will be the ground-breaking stance on social media student-teacher relationships. Are you paying attention? We will be and hope to update you on news on this in the future.