Obama & State School Leaders Want Facebook Unblocked in Classrooms!

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teacheroftheyearAmidst the hoopla surrounding the silly tradition of naming a national “Teacher of the Year,” the President of the United States and Council of Chief State School Officers made major policy news by endorsing the unblocking of Internet access in American classrooms – all in pursuit of educational excellence!

A high school English teacher from Iowa who incorporates everything from singing to Facebook in her lessons has been recognized by President Barack Obama as the nation’s top teacher.

Obama introduced Sarah Brown Wessling on Thursday in a ceremony in the Rose Garden.

“Her students don’t just write five-paragraph essays, but they write songs, public service announcements, film story boards, even grant proposals for their own not-for-profit organizations,” the president said, adding that one of Wessling’s students reported that learning in her classroom was never boring.

“I’m not sure I could have said that when I was in school,” said Obama. (original article)

…The Council of Chief State School Officers selects the recipient of the annual honor and cited Wessling’s passion and innovative approaches, including incorporating Facebook in her classes.

So, congratulations are in order for Ms. Wessling and for every teacher in America who can now go tell their school “network nazis” that the President of the United States wants them to stop blocking the Web. Blocking Facebook and other web sites is unpatriotic!

Thank you, Mr. President!


Come to CMK 2010!

Comments

8 Responses to “Obama & State School Leaders Want Facebook Unblocked in Classrooms!”
  1. Your primary source makes no reference of such a policy endorsement. From what I can read of what you gleaned from the primary source, the President recognized Sarah’s appropriate and creative usage of Facebook in her classroom, but never said remove the shackles of filtering. He did not endorse willy nilly open Internet in the classroom.

    What Sarah has done, and appropriately so, is shown that we can actually use these tools in an appropriate, educational way. She is helping making the right argument for these tools to be used and to have the full potential of the Internet open to our schools.

    Unfortunately, Gary, you put that own spin on the story. For such a followed leader in education technology, this is a poorly written blog post with no primary source to backup your claim. If you have a primary source that explicitly says Obama wants Facebook unblocked, I will be more than happy to do just that with my own filters here at my school.

  2. Gary Stager says:

    Glad the headline caught your eye.

    The President of the United States celebrates a teacher as the “best” in America and cites her use of Facebook in the classroom. Doesn’t that suggest that he believes that other teachers should be capable of doing the same?

    Educators should not be treated like imbeciles or felons by IT staff who set inappropriate restrictions on how they teach or students learn in individual classrooms.

    Educators should use whatever evidence they can find, even if it’s just my silly little blog, to remove the expensive, unnecessary and draconian obstacles to full democratic participation in the world of today.

    In a time of deep economic crises facing schools, perhaps a rich source of savings can be found in the salaries of non-instructional IT personnel who cost an enormous sum of money in order to reduce the value of the computers owned by a school.

    Schools buy a $1,000 computer and then pay an IT staff tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and benefits to make that computer worth $300. That seems especially reckless and miseducative.

    On another note, OF COURSE President Obama didn’t call for the explicit unblocking of Facebook, nor did he call for the end of the five-paragraph essay scourge central to so many of his misguided Race-to-the-Top standardized testing fetish – despite applauding the teacher for not focusing so narrowly on crappy test-prep.

    Obama sends his own children to schools explicitly prohibited from ranking and sorting children while he prescribes the very opposite policy for other people’s children. Obama calls for more highly-qualified teachers and then makes his unqualified gym buddy Secretary of Education. He gets elected with union support and then builds his education policy on a basis of union busting and teacher bashing.

    I make no apology for pointing out such hypocrisy on the part of a President I support on other matters. I’ve been writing about it for years.

  3. Got to agree the headline is totally bull, Gary. With it buzzing across twitter now, not everyone is going to take the time to click the link and you are going to leave some folks with the wrong impression. It is a little Fox News-esque. I agree with your idea, but method here scares me a little.

    We need to give people the straight scoop, so that they know they can trust us. Stuff like this is what gives people the wrong impression about our arguments. We have logic, test scores, economics and time on our side, we don’t need to unnecessarily include exaggerated claims.

  4. Brett says:

    What is the big deal? I have been doing this for 3 years now. FB in a classroom – is just another way to connect students with the wider world. My film students connect with producers and directors who are willing to give feedback and advice. Nothing that amazing – just the real world. When in doubt ask an expert? FB is just one tool that can be used to achieve this.

    Can I come meet your President? We also use Myspace to contact independent music artists who may want to work with my film students to produce a music video!!

  5. YukonPublicSchoolsSux says:

    Yeah, that’s great until some pedophile on FB sets up a booty call with a 15 year old girl during school. It’s important to protect children from the dangers of the internet. You can’t expect teachers to do that. Teachers are getting way out of control with this open everything up B.S.

  6. YukonPublicSchoolsSux says:

    Plus.. The teachers would spend too much damn time on Facebook and Twitter, just like the teacher that passed this article on to me.

  7. Brenda says:

    YukonPublicSchoolsSux,

    You sound just like my IT dept! Let’s be really, really, clear about something….93% of the people who hurt kids know them f2f, often living in the same home. The monster is usually right next door.

    Trust me, having a teacher helping students navigate social media and teaching them about safe online use is one of the best things that we can do these days…it’s not a waste of anybody’s time. Doesn’t sound to me like you know what you’re talking about regarding social media privacy settings…like most of the people making decisions about technology in school districts, I’m guessing you are a non-user of most social media.

    Gary’s right, connecting with kids where they are at is not something new…good teachers have done it forever.

  8. YukonPublicSchoolsSux,

    I have to agree with Brenda on this one. What is your experience in schools? What is your experience with social media? I have also run across this phenomenon of ‘the illiterate telling the literate what to read’ for the past 30 years of using ICT in schools with kids.