A new Missouri law banning the private communication of teachers and students has been postponed until February 20th. The law, Senate Bill 54, also known as the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, includes a number of provisions with wide support by legislators and the educational community; including requirements for schools to disclose sexual misconduct allegations, annual background checks for teachers, and banning sex offenders from serving on school boards.
That’s not the problem. The problem is that even communication between teachers and their children who are students would be banned. Nicknamed the Facebook Law, if passed, this law intends to prohibit teachers from having exclusive communications with students over non-work Internet sites. Students are defined as anyone under 18 who attends or used to attend the school where the teacher works. This would apply to even their own children. A teacher in Ladue, Mo, Christina Thomas, alleges that the law is violating her rights under the 1st and 14th amendments.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced he wants that particular section of the law repealed. In a digital world, we must recognize that social media can be an important tool for teaching and learning,Nixon said. At the same time, we must be vigilant about threats posed to students through the Internet and other means.
While no one is arguing that students need to be protected, the Missouri State Teachers Association and several Missouri public school teachers challenged the law. They stated websites such as Facebook and Twitter had become a common part of contemporary interaction between teachers and students and contended that to limit them would violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Whatever the argument, it is clear that changes will have to be made before the 20th of February. The balance of safety and freedom has to be maintained.
This is a guest post from Laura Backes, she enjoys writing about all kinds of subjects and also topics related to internet providers in her area. You can reach her at: laurabackes8 @ gmail.com.