Districts Blocking Web Sites (misinterpretation of CIPA?)

This is not about Internet Filters, it's about Information Censoring.  And Information Censoring is the teachers responsibility. 

Current school District filters are generally set by technicians, not educators.  Most of them have never been in the classroom and have no idea how to modify the software-filter defaults to meet the teachers and students needs.

  • Most District mission statements state our philosophy is to have high expectations for our students, to educate them to behave ethically, responsibly and safely and then expect that they will do the right thing.
  • When they don’t, they know there will be consequences (already in place) and we’ll have a conversation and try to learn from the mistake, but we don’t assume they are going to mess up.
  • In other words, our philosophy has been to educate, not ban. We model and teach kids how to obey the signals and walk across a busy intersection, not forbid them to cross.
Do not overlook the value in these clips:
You may wish to take 15 or 20 minutes to listen to the short interviews regarding filtering web sites --- from administrative, teacher and student perspectives.

Illustration: I was invited to give a presentation to kids/teachers/administrators at a nearby progressive school. The outstanding 5-minute video titled "Shift Happens", which resides on YouTube, was filtered (blocked). So, obviously the filter is not very intelligent, as it certainly wasn't because of CIPA. So why?
  • Not to panic, I simply challenged the kids to help me solve this little problem and ensure them the intent was not to block this particular website. It was probably accidently filtered by an IT person down town who did not take the time to determine it's academic potential.
  • Less than 3 minutes later a student came up to my pc, typed in some information and voila --- the YouTube video began.
  • Observation 1: Many school Districts continue to attempt to block students and staff out of academic (and non-academic) sites without really dealing with the issue at hand. The only people the District 'filters' stop are the teachers and administrators --- not most of the kids. They certainly understand a creative use of proxies.
  • Observation 2: Consider a wiser solution -> The more progressive Districts are using filtering software like 8e6 and WebHawk. The latter is priced less than 1/3 the cost of WebSense (which must have been out there first and adopted without a lot of research). WebSense is like working in a straight jacket and does not allow for teacher and local level input.
    • The beauty of 8e6 and other more progressive tools is that they reside in an Active Directory environment. Individual teachers may override the universal unintelligent filters to open up appropriate sites for their kids.
  • Yes, it's the teachers responsibility to select 'appropriate content'. And if they make a poor decision, there are already consequences set in place. And if they choose not to open a filtered site, that is their choice too.