Time to push 'reboot' on school tech policies

The most effective schools govern from a place of trust, and the least effective from a place of fear. Nowhere is this clearer than in schools’ approach to the use of technology, where the widening gap between “haves” and “have-nots” is being worsened by policies that lock away access to Gmail, YouTube and other learning resources students use comfortably and safely everywhere except school.


It’s 9:30 p.m. Journalism adviser Mitch Eden is on Facebook looking at the yearbook staff’s recent photo uploads. He gets a message from the photographer. How can she get the perfect shot? Because of Facebook, Eden is able to offer instant advice to the photographer. The next day she captures a stunning frame.

Portrait of controversy

Within limits, students in public schools have a First Amendment right to wear expressive clothing, jewelry and haircuts, and some have successfully sued their schools when forced to change their appearance. But there are no published court rulings addressing whether that right extends to a student’s choice of apparel for a yearbook portrait. And the issue is complicated by the fact that other students’ First Amendment rights – the editors’ – can override the individual students’ stylistic choices.

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Private universities across the country are cracking down on their student media advertising policies — a practice that would likely be considered unconstitutional at a public university. Targets are many, from alcohol to off-campus housing, but perhaps most damaging to newspaper revenues is the bar on ads for degree programs at competing schools.