LAUSD is looking to institute a social media policy. Perhaps they’re realizing that blocking students from Facebook and Twitter essentially blocked no kid beyond elementary school thanks to sites that got around every block–not to mention that so many kids have smartphones it’s useless. According to the Daily News article, principals tweet all day long about the football team and school test scores. Even John Deasy has a Twitter account.
In terms of getting information out, or connecting with students, those are great goals. Social media is a powerful tool. This summer, before the opening of Valley Region High Schools 4 and 5, students connected with teachers, got excited about attending, and asked relevant questions on Facebook. Long before an office staff was there to answer the phones, and in many cases long after an office staff would have gone home late into the night. Parents run some of the communities–or seek answers for students–even when no teacher steps up. Answers are posted about uniforms, classes, and the students bonded long before the first day of school.
But bigger issues to consider, is how the district will deal with potential cyber bullying incidents and even tagging and gang affiliations. Currently schools don’t consider inappropriate postings as a disciplinary infraction. Teachers might speak to the student for posting a pornographic link, but they can’t be disciplined for something done in off hours. Yet, the slipperier slope comes when students joining school- or community-sponsored Facebook groups are clearly wearing gang attire or flashing gang signs in their profile pictures. Will LAUSD deal with that before someone gets hurt? It’s highly unlikely that students flashing gang signs are leaving their gang affiliations at the gate in the morning.
Police departments nationwide are using MySpace and Facebook to find the identity of taggers and much more. Let’s just make sure LAUSD uses the same tools to keep our kids safe–and counsel or remove students that are intent on making school an unsafe place.
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