Student Blogging

Students are blogging. There is no denying it. Schools are becoming concerned over the content of these blogs for a number of reasons:

  • students are putting themselves in physical jeopardy (the stalker problem)
  • students are putting their reputations in jeopardy (the college admissions problem)
  • students are defaming their schools/teachers (the unflattering press problem)

The Electronic Frontier Foundation whose mission is to protect civil liberties in the networked world have recently put out a legal guide for student blogging. It is a well-written piece outline recent legal rulings on student blogging. The bottom line seems to be the following:

  • public schools probably cannot discipline students for non-school blogs that critique the school or teachers (even harshly or with vulgarity)
  • private schools can discipline students in most cases, unless the school has agreed to follow certain public guidelines for protecting student speech
  • advocating violence/crime in a student blog is pretty much never protected speech
  • some states have extended federal protections for student speech

The big concept for me is that students shouldn’t need to be exploring their legal options for speaking their mind. We should be educating them on their rights. Right? Even more importantly, we should be discussing and exploring the ramifications of their speech. Students should learn how powerful speech is, how valuable it is, and how fortunate we are to be able to speak freely (and when we are not). Otherwise, how can we expect them to make wise decisions about how to best use their speech. Unless they truly understand the consequences, we should expect decisions that we do not agree with. An adult saying NO just won’t suffice. It may help for a short period, but is just a band-aid solution.

arvind s. grover

I am a progressive educator, a podcaster (, a blogger, and dean of faculty of JK-11 school (building a high school) in New York City.