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Shawn Saxena

In response to the “Electric Freedom Foundation” Article.:

The whole problem really comes down to what qualifies as "material disruption". How far can a student go before he’s really interfering with the school’s and its educational atmosphere? This is really what makes it so hard to give a clear answer. Should students be able to openly criticize their teachers? Yes. I think it’s only fair that students have the opportunity to express their own opinions, ever if they articulate negative opinions about the faculty. But to outright malign a teacher is different. Tasteful critique and trash-talking can often have a blurry line. Should their writing be OK if they have some sort of decent justification? And then there’s the level of vulgarity that a student chooses to use. It’s mind numbing how subjective the matter is. Teachers snooping around students blogs seems a bit “shady”, but in some cases they might have a reason. The Electronic Freedom Foundation sited some cases in which students were making threats (serious or not) to their teachers. This is something which should be taken seriously. Yes threats, cross the line. But what about the student who makes a crude illustration of his teacher? It’s not exactly fair criticism.
“Likewise, in J.S. ex rel H.S. v. Bethlehem Area School District, 569 A.2d 638 (Pa. 2002), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that despite the fact that the web site was not created at school, the Tinker test applied because the site "was aimed at a specific school and/or its personnel" and was "brought onto the school campus or accessed at school by its originator."” The supreme court has done its share at establishing precedents for what can and cannot be done by students outside of class. But still, the line that one must cross to be justly punished still remains quite blurry.

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March 2006

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