The new law on student-teacher online communication is drawing criticism and praise from teachers and parents.
The Missouri State Teachers Association says the new teacher/student communication law is too vague. But Senator Jane Cunningham says it’s pretty black and white. She says it doesn’t ban appropriate communication, just inappropriate, hidden communication.
Cunningham says there is a differentiation in the bill between work and non work related sites. Teachers are allowed to communicate on work-related sites, open to the public. But even non-work sites can be used for work. For example, Facebook. She says a Facebook site set up by a school that is in the public domain is alright. A one on one student/teacher conversation is not.
The Missouri State Teachers Association has criticized this policy, saying it’s too vague to impose on districts, and it also cuts teachers off from a resource to connect with students where they feel comfortable.
Spokeswoman Aurora Meyer says there are teachers who feel like this bill is punishing everyone for the actions of a few. She says many teachers have expressed to the association that they feel guilty until proven innocent, and that’s frustrating. Meyer says there’s a huge burden now on schools to craft a policy that meets the requirements.
But Cunningham says there is no enforcement built into the bill. She says the bill gives the districts discretion to write whatever policy they want, with the faith they’ll match the law. She says many districts get help from the Missouri School Boards Association to make sure the language of their policy does match the law, but that’s a service most district buy. She says the law gives districts discretion to police themselves.
They have until January 1 2012 to write a policy to fit this bill.