Blogging Teachers Face Policy Barriers


Is there a limit for what teachers can say when it comes to blogging? And if so, where is the line and who should determine how far is too far?

These are some of the questions that Jay Mathews is raising in his education column in the Washington Post. Mathews talks about the blogging situation with Michele Kerr, an educator who blogs under the Internet name "Cal Lanier."

According to the column, supervisors of the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) at Stanford's School of Education decided Kerr’s anti-progressive views and blogs were alienating students in classes.

Kerr said the leaders tried to stifle her opinions and her blog, and threatened to withhold the Master in Education she was working toward. She said they expressed fear that she was “unsuited for the practice of teaching.”

Kerr ultimately won the dispute, but Mathews writes that the struggle highlights flaws in education systems that try to prevent independent thought on the blogs of teachers. Many times, these institutions have no defined policy on blogging.

But do such restrictions counteract the push for educators to learn the 21st-century skills such as blogging and social networking? Mathews thinks so. He said he thinks the Web debates between Kerr and himself offer many teachable insights.

Even though Kerr isn't currently blogging, she advises teachers to be cautious when it comes to blogs. She said she feels “teacher blogs are an open area crying out for guidelines — and not just at Stanford...The mere existence of a blog is considered trouble — even though there are literally thousands of teacher blogs out there.”

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