MySpace Now A Detentionable Offense
from the well-Mr.-Sister-what-do-you-want-to-do-with-your-life? dept
Administrators of one Illinois school district say students should be "held accountable" for what they put on the internet, and are making students that participate in extracurricular activities sign a statement saying anything they put online can be grounds for disciplinary action, even if it's not on school servers or done on school time. The Supreme Court has been pretty clear that the First Amendment doesn't stop at a school's gates, and there's no question it protects students when they're off school grounds. It looks like the district is calling the statement a "pledge" to make it look voluntary, while enforcing it only on students who participate in extracurriculars would appear to be a way to circumvent the First Amendment by tying it to some voluntary activity. It's a good way to put a chill on students expressing themselves online, a nice nod to Big Brother and a waste of taxpayer resources -- but most of all, it's pointless. What will the threat of discipline do to actually stop these kids from whatever they're doing that the school district doesn't like? And if kids can circumvent school web filters with ease, it's not hard to think they'll be pretty successful at hiding their online activity from school administrators, too. Instead of having some employees troll MySpace looking for kids talking about cutting class or smoking in the bathroom, perhaps the resources would be better put to use on a remedial civics class for the school district and its board, with a heavy emphasis on the First Amendment.