Virginia struggles with teachers, students, and Facebook

A teacher helps a student on the computer.

Modern communications technologies offer challenges that were not faced by parents even 10 years ago. The state of Virginia is currently debating exactly what approach to take regarding digital communications between teachers and students. The Department of Education there is getting ready to vote on a new set of recommendations that would then get distributed to individual districts to consider. This is in response to past incidents of sexual relationships between teachers and students.

The general approach of the state is that any communications need to be transparent. So a public Facebook page for a class is OK, but private messages are not OK. The guidelines are running into a lot of gray area: if a coach wants to text members of the team about a practice, does he need to also text the principal? If he gets a text back from one of the players, should he be obliged to copy that to the principal as well?

We talk to Charles Pyle from Virginia's Department of Education. He says the state isn't trying to keep teachers off of Facebook; he just thinks their presence, as it relates to students, needs to be managed in a responsible way.

We also speak with Bill Bosher, a professor of public policy and education at Virginia Commonwealth University. He says the approach misses the mark. He says a crime is a crime, whether it's conducted using Facebook or not, and to go after technology is a case of hitting the messenger. If someone's mailing threats, do you go after paper or the U.S. Postal Service?

Also in this program, Facebook may be good for your self-esteem. This according to a recent study from Cornell University. We talk about the study and debut the first in our new series of "According To A Recent Study" songs.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...