This article describes how students are being punished by school districts for posting comments about their schools and/or teachers on Facebook. A student in Minnesota was suspended for posting a comment about her teacher. When she got in trouble the first time, she got detention. After her second offense, she was suspended. The article begs the question whether students should have the right to their free speech when they are on their own computer after school hours or if the school district should be able to restrict their comments.
Q1: What is your opinion of the issue in the article?
Answer 1: My opinion is that while everyone has the right to free speech, as provided for by the First Amendment, it should excuse the fact that some comments may be hurtful and cause for concern. According to this article, “Currently, most schools base decisions on when to punish students for online comments on a 1969 Supreme Court case, ‘Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District’. The case, settled 35 years before Facebook even existed, allows schools to curb students’ off campus First Amendment rights only if their speech constitutes a threat, or causes a major disruption to the educational process”. I agree with this statement, however, I believe that the phrase “major disruption” needs to be clearly defined. For example, if a student posts a status on Facebook about her teacher using a few derogatory words, is that a disruption to the educational process? This is exactly why the 12-year-old girl was punished last year, according to the article. I believe that while Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District was a ground-breaking case that created new laws concerning technology, there need to be new laws created to keep up with the rapidly advancing technology of today’s society.
Q2: How will the issue help or hinder student learning?
Answer 2: This issue may not help or hinder student learning drastically, however, it is important that the student’s learn proper Internet etiquette. Aimee Bissonette advised that “schools should make it clear students will be held responsible for what they write online, on and off campus”. It is also important to remember that the students are taught what is appropriate, and what is inappropriate to write online. Raising awareness will help accomplish many things. First, it will teach kids that they need to respect the school district. Also, cyber-bullying may be drastically reduced.