Monday, August 29, 2011

Dear Missouri Educators

Dear Missouri Educators, 

Your freedom to choose your friends is restored for now. Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a preliminary injunction against the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act. Phew! Now what?

Do you wait for your legislators to amend and reintroduce the bill? Or do you start a conversation that will prompt education policy makers to support you the next time your elected representatives try to violate your constitutional rights?

Last month, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) designated September 28, 2011 as Banned Websites Awareness Day. This campaign provides organizational support for school-based activities designed to raise awareness about intellectual freedom for learners. If you feel as though Missouri teachers just averted a close call with Orwellian censorship, please consider celebrating the freedom to read, learn, and communicate freely online on September 28th.

AASL created a portal where the public can contribute links to helpful resources about Internet censorship. They are also featuring guest posts on the AASL blog about the impact of filtering on teaching and learning. You are invited to contribute your thoughts about how it would affect you and your students if a) Bill 54 went into effect as originally written, and/or b) Internet filtering in K-12 education was less restrictive.

Gail McCray, a Lawyer for the Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA), said yesterday,"This gives everyone time to debate and discuss the issue to come to a proper resolution rather than rushing to piece together language that doesn't resolve the concerns of educators or allow time for teacher input." There is indeed much to debate as some sections of the law still remain in effect: You are now required to make your work-related Internet sites accessible to administrators, parents and guardians, and Missouri school districts are still required to develop written policies governing teacher-student digital communication by January 2012.

Taking proactive measures to inform the public about your state’s recent drama and other Internet censorship issues might help your and other legislators think twice before interfering with teachers’ professional practice and their civil rights.

1 comment:

  1. A Missouri educator posed this question as a Facebook comment on the link to this post, "Other than the banned websites website, what would you recommend as proactive measures?" My response follows.