Blocked Bytes Week

This week, Doug Johnson (Blue Skunk Blog) called for an addition to Banned Books Week. He states:

if we are truly committed to “Freedom to Read” what we really need is…Blocked Bytes Week

How true! I guess that’s why he’s Doug Johnson!
As are many (if not most) American K-12 educators, I am continually frustrated by filtering in my district–although it has gotten better this year, admittedly. We’re lucky in that fact, I suppose.

I just wonder how it is that we’re supposed to guide students and foster good cyber-citizenship in them if we are blocked from the “teachable moments.” A related example of this is a statement made by my principal in a school-wide professional development session before this school year started. She stated that there is no reason to ever exchange an email with a student. Her takeaway from district administrative training was that exchanging email is so inherently frought with dangers that teachers should never take that chance. She said if a student emails a teacher, that teacher should call them on the phone and talk to the parents and then talk to the student. While I am relatively certain that this was not the intent of the district educational technology leadership, it was, nevertheless, how she interpretted policy. Oh my. We have spent millions of dollars on technology in this district, have a particularly well-respected leader in the district ed-tech department, and principals still come away with misconceptions like that. No amount of talking will change her mind, because she is blinded by the idea that inappropriate things might be said in email and that might put both students and teachers at risk. Period. It made me sad and frustrated to hear that.

Thanks Doug Johnson, for fighting for freedom along with us! Reading freely and exploring ideas, both in print and digital form, are cornerstones of democracy and freedom.

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