Education Department officials are threatening school principals with lawsuits if they fail to monitor and curb students’ lunchtime chat and evening Facebook time for expressing ideas and words that are deemed by Washington special-interest groups to be harassment of some students.Um, overreach, much? And what types of private, after school activities are educators to monitor?
There has only been muted opposition to this far-reaching policy among the professionals and advocates in the education sector, most of whom are heavily reliant on funding and support from top-level education officials. The normally government-averse tech-sector is also playing along, and on Mar. 11, Facebook declared that it was “thrilled” to work with White House officials to foster government oversight of teens’ online activities.
“Harassing conduct may take many forms, including verbal acts and name-calling; graphic and written statements, which may include use of cell phones or the Internet… it does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents [but] creates a hostile environment … [which can] limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by a school,” according to the far-reaching letter, which was completed Oct. 26 by Russlynn Ali, who heads the agency’s civil rights office.So if Sally steals Susie’s boyfriend and Susie decides to air her displeasure with Sally by telling her Facebook friends that Sally is a fat bitch and a skank Susie’s school is responsible for disciplining Susie and counseling both Susie and Susie’s family.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for monitoring children’s online activities. However, that job belongs to parents, not the schools and certainly not to the government. I am also against bullying. Children should be able to go to school without being picked on but we are not discussing in school activities.
Children should also be taught that there is a difference between speech that is meant to bully and speech that is just plain rude. And while we are at it, children should also learn that a) not everyone wants to be their friend, b) that is perfectly okay and c) jerks are best ignored.
Please notice that we are talking about speech here-speech that occurs outside of school hours in a non-school related forum. And once again we have government monitoring private activities. In essence the government is decreeing that schools, not parents, are responsible for children twenty-four/seven.
I am beginning to wonder what purpose this administration believes that parents serve.