Feelings vs. First Amendment

Hey all,

I just read this article online about a teacher who has been suspended because of her blogging rants about her students. Apparently, she had a few choice words that she chose to share with her readers (mostly friends and family). I was wondering how you feel about this. On one hand, we have the right to speak our minds (protected by the first amendment), but on the other  hand, we have someone who is supposed to be a role model to the impressionable youth.

Personally, I haven’t formed any opinion yet. I do believe that this is something that should be taken seriously; teachers are there to inspire students and encourage them to do their best, not to shoot them down when they’re being kids. Disciplinary action should be taken, but I don’t know if she should lose her job over it.

Thoughts?

 

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4 Comments on “Feelings vs. First Amendment”

  1. WillDanger says:

    Hmmm. You’re definitely right, this is quite a mess of a situation, and I’m not totally sure where I stand. I will say that I am totally unconvinced by her “What’s wrong with calling the students out?” approach. Not that she wouldn’t be well within her rights (or even teacherly duty) to call them out, its just that posting about them on a (clearly not anonymous enough) blog isn’t so much calling them out for their laziness as squabbling about it behind their backs.

    I’m also not totally convinced by the idea that this is a first amendment issue. The first amendment protects free speech, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any consequences for the things beings said.
    All of that being said, I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea that a teacher cannot ever express frustration with her students. The fact remains though that one of her students was able to find the blog, which makes me wonder whether or not the blog was private “enough,” as it were. Whether or not she was in the wrong, it seems she is facing these problems now because she didn’t quite understand her blog to be a public space (it certainly is now, at any rate).

    Having given that fairly ambiguous comment, I will say that if we understand the blogosphere to be a public space, it is 15000% inappropriate, unprofessional, and downright demoralizing for a teacher to bash her students in public.

  2. jaybee11 says:

    I don’t believe this teacher should have been suspended for making comments about her students. According to the article I read from NY Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/02/16/2011-02-16_teacher_suspended_for_bashing_students_on_blog_defends_herself_for_vicious_jokes.html), she did not disclose the names of the students she ‘bashed.’ As a result, she did not defame the characters of any specific person. Her blog was comprised of her honest opinions, however distasteful.
    It is this objectionable delivery that I feel could be cause for her suspension. In a way, her blog was like a Facebook page. Because she was obviously identifiable through her blog, her public opinions could affect how others view her sense of professionalism. By referring to children in a derogatory manner and using profanity, the teacher put off an unprofessional air that many others could get fired over. We have all heard stories of people being fired for posting things about their professional lives on the internet (such as ‘I hate my boss’), and even posting pictures on Craigslist (a congressman was pressured to resign just this week).
    With this new form of media available to the public, people are still attempting to find a balance in regards to displaying their private lives in the public sphere. Potentially, the world is your audience, not only the few personal friends you believe follow your blog, in this teacher’s case. Unless one specifically designs their blog as a private webpage, we all have to keep in mind that anyone can view the content.

  3. jaybee11 says:

    I don’t believe this teacher should have been suspended for making comments about her students. According to the article I read from NY Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/02/16/2011-02-16_teacher_suspended_for_bashing_students_on_blog_defends_herself_for_vicious_jokes.html), she did not disclose the names of the students she ‘bashed.’ As a result, she did not defame the characters of any specific person. Her blog was comprised of her honest opinions, however distasteful.
    It is this objectionable delivery that I feel could be cause for her suspension. In a way, her blog was like a Facebook page. Because she was obviously identifiable through her blog, her public opinions could affect how others view her sense of professionalism. By referring to children in a derogatory manner and using profanity, the teacher put off an unprofessional air that many others could get fired over. We have all heard stories of people being fired for posting things about their professional lives on the internet (such as ‘I hate my boss’), and even posting pictures on Craigslist (a congressman was pressured to resign just this week).
    With this new form of media available to the public, people are still attempting to find a balance in regards to displaying their private lives in the public sphere. Potentially, the world is your audience, not only the few personal friends you believe follow your blog, in this teacher’s case. Unless one specifically designs their blog as a private webpage, we all have to keep in mind that anyone can view the content.

  4. Shoshana says:

    I see this as less of a First Amendment case and more of a “can she still do her job” case. She was outed by her students, despite her efforts at pseudonymity. That means her students know exactly what she thinks of them. Do they still have any respect for her now?


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