Education

Friends are Born, Not Made

By Elizabeth Rich — September 17, 2009 1 min read

This week, CNN reported that the population of Facebook—now at 300 million members—has neared that of the United States. This is good news for anyone trying to connect via the Internet, except perhaps for teachers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The ArgusLeader.com reports that, as of June, the district has a new policy that prevents students and staff who are not related from social-networking with or “friending” each other, unless the site is a professional one.

For Deb Merxbauer, the head of the Sioux Falls Education Association, the decision is an inconvenience for district staff who find sites like Facebook helpful for keeping track of their children’s online activities. No longer allowed to “friend” their children’s friends, staff members could have a more difficult time monitoring their children, according to Merxbauer. “SFEA is definitely very concerned about that piece of it,” she said. “Anything that becomes an infringement on parental rights as an employee is a concern.”

Merxbauer also noted that the policy doesn’t address concerns the district had expressed last year about the appropriateness of what district employees might be posting to social-networking sites. “I would think the intent of the policy is to guide the type of the content,” she said.

For parent Doug Herbert, who defended the district’s decision, social-networking between staff and students could lead to preferential treatment in the classroom. “If it’s personal, it might promote favoritism, and you don’t want that in the schools,” he explained.

Matt Christensen, a 30-year-old high school teacher who teaches in a neighboring district, said social networking has been a help, not a hindrance in the classroom. Christensen has used Facebook to communicate with his students about schoolwork and to give them a glimpse into his life as a father and husband. “Kids these days, more than ever, need positive influences,” he said.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read