What this means is, if I lived in Missouri, I would have to cancel my Flickr account, my LiveJournal account, and my Pinky-Street.com account in order to keep my job, because theoretically a student could possibly find my accounts, and each of those sites offers "Flickrmail" or an equivalent "private messaging" service, which is deemed "exclusive" or "private" communication according to the Missouri statute.
The news articles are focusing on Facebook, but almost every web site offers a PM or Private Messaging option.
If a kid from my school joined the Pinky-Street forum, I would have to delete my account if I lived in Missouri... or I will when they pass a similar law in Hawaii, which I'm sure they will, because they're paranoid like that here.
Actually, to be on the safe side, I would have to cancel all of my online accounts anyway, because I have no way of knowing for sure if a kid from my school is on the forums or not, since almost everyone uses a pseudonym.
What really bothers me, and which nobody has mentioned in any of the couple of dozen articles I've either read or skimmed so far, is the discriminatory nature of the law. How can they forbid one specific profession from accessing the internet? Why is only ONE profession being targeted?
Why aren't school administrators named in the law? What about sports coaches? What about adult bookstore employees? Oh hey, it's okay for people in PRISON to have online accounts, but not teachers? Drug dealers? Sure, sign up for Neopets! Apparently it's fine for those people to send private messages to kids. Or to have web sites. Or to have Flickr and Facebook and Club Obi Wan accounts. Just keep those scumbag teachers offline!
If I were a Missouri teacher I'd have to leave the Club Obi Wan forum dedicated to Indiana Jones films, 'cuz some kid from my school might be on there, and the forum offers private messaging options. With most online forum members using pseudonyms, there's no way to be sure who is who on what forum is there?
To the best of my knowledge, I've never participated in an online forum with any students from schools at which I've worked, present or former, and have had no interest in doing so. I do not share any of my online activities with co-workers.
In another internet-related, anti-teacher note, the school at which I work instituted a new policy this week: we are forbidden from using the school email system for communication with parents.
Like... WTF (in internet jargon)? Don't they understand how many parents prefer to be updated on student issues, both minor and serious, via email? Ever since I started as a teacher the schools have been talking about finding better ways to reach out to parents, to involve parents in the educational process, or just to keep them updated.
Our admin has NO IDEA how many parents our special ed staff have calmed down and kept from suing the school district through careful, thoughtful, compassionate, and regular email communication. Personally I've had to reassure more parents than I care to count after their encounters with one of our administrators, as have our other teachers. Now, however, we are forbidden from using school email for the purpose, even though technically admin has access to the school email system so they're fully capable of spying on... I mean monitoring... our activity.
I'm certainly not going to be using my personal email for parent communication.
Some teachers use their cell phones to call parents. I don't do that, nor will I. Under Missouri law, if I lived there, I'd be opening myself up to reprimand or termination, because cell phones have txt message capabilities, that is, private messaging options, and private communication between students and teachers is banned. What if a kid picks up Mom's cell phone and sends a text to the teacher? Teacher gets busted!
Now all some high school kid who wants to destroy a teacher's life has to do is send the teacher a private message through Facebook or Flickr or Pinky-freaking-Street-dot-com, and then claim the teacher is in private contact with them, and the teacher gets fired.
(Some teachers in Hawaii are finally starting to publicly voice the fact that high school kids can already get teachers fired by intentionally failing the state assessment tests. The state assessments are not used for grading students, only for determining if the school and the teachers are passing or failing. Thus, the students are not invested AT ALL in the tests, and some are starting to figure it out... and to understand the power they have. None... ZERO... high schools met the academic performance requirements in our state last year. Why? Because the test doesn't matter to the students.)
Every day, in every way, teaching becomes a greater challenge.
I wonder if this is why I look and feel so tired all the time?
By the way, if they try that stuff here, I'll give up the stinkin' job before I give up my Flickr account.
And I'll also sue for discrimination faster than you can spit.
Apparently the ACLU in Missouri is looking at the new law, but so far they're saying things like "they'll help write the implementation policies." Because, you know, it's only stupid low-life teachers. "Hating" against teachers isn't really a hate crime, apparently. In fact, it's the law!