Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Equal access to information? Not in U.S. public schools, no sir!

Wow- this is a scary one.
Schools around the country are using "acceptable use policies" to block student access to the open internet. If kids who might not have computers at home aren't able to use the internet at school, they are being denied education. A child without internet skills in America is a child who does not know how to fish.

"School administrators in the Houston-area school district were prohibiting the use of search engines in classrooms. Kids were only allowed to visit specific sites that were approved by the technology department. Techies—not media specialists—were calling the shots when it came to sanctioning sites for students. If teachers or librarians wanted kids to visit an unapproved site, they had to submit a request to the tech specialist. Call me old-fashioned, but when did techies become information specialists with the credentials to choose appropriate sites for students?

As unsettling as it sounds, some districts ban Internet use altogether—and they’re getting away with it. It’s not just happening in repressive countries like China and Iran—it’s happening right here in places like New York, Texas, and Minnesota. Let’s not lose sight that this extreme “solution” to prevent students from accessing undesirable sites violates their First Amendment rights. I know of several elementary schools in a nearby Texas district in which the principal prohibits any Web use—even for teachers. One teacher said she was saddened by the fact that she could no longer visit Literacy Center, a wonderful site for kids learning to speak English as a second language."
LINK to article- an interesting and thought provoking read!

Thanks to the fabulous Kristin for the tip! And hmmmm...
(From the article) "One librarian on the East Coast says that her students aren’t allowed to check the Web for weather reports even though many of them travel to and from school each day by ferry."

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