I shared this blog post recently with SCASL friends, and felt the need to keep this conversation stirred up. Why? Because the gut reactions to the recent call to arms, action plan, finger wagging, or “state of current school library” address (pick one that aligns with your opinion — you’re entitled to it) recently posted in the October 2009 School Library Journal (read it here–written of course by two librarian buddies Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson.) (Note: I personally see it as sort of an instrument or gauge to measure my success as a 21st Century Librarian.) Still more see it in other ways.
If we as LMS’s don’t push back and advocate for leniency where the filtering is concerned, that will never happen. There are very few groups in our educational communities pushing this agenda, and far too many teachers don’t feel they have the power to push it (tho in reality most principals listen to the cries of teachers before the listen to any LMS or tech specialist. Don’t forget many of us are singletons in our buildings.)
Actually, I think the biggest problem at hand is complacency among educators in general. They are allowing a segment of professionals (the IT network people) who fit in like a square peg in the school community to be the deciding factor of good and bad. (When do they interact with students? Try never, at least in my 24 years of experience!) This heavy-handed decision is leveled based on policies that are seemingly purposefully kneejerk or written based on worst case possible scenarios (i.e. because CIPA and how technology/internet access is funded in schools.) Keep the board members and adminstrators uninformed, and nothing else matters. And as I understand it, this is more the norm than the exception in k12 public schools. (Note: I realize that is not true everywhere, but again it’s more the norm than the exception–especially it seems in South Carolina.)
Why complain? After all, I am among the lucky few…
Considering that, I feel blessed that I have now worked in three school districts where I had no problem getting sites opened upon request. For me, it has all been in how the request is presented, with lesson plans that show goals and objectives grounded in our state standards, nets, and more. I will continue this brave (and sometimes lonesome) battle. But I am angry for the masses out there who do not have the luxury of getting portals opened, even if only a small crack and only for a temporary time limit. This IS an issue of intellectual freedom. Rights are being infringed here.
So, are educators part of the problem?
How can any of us educators feel we measure up with the status quo regarding filters? I used to think filters were not for protection, but rather for lazy educators who rely on the filter to guide their practice. Now I think it’s more of a direct reflection on educators’ complacent attitude to accept filtering as just the way things are. My goal is to continue advocating to “just say no” to blanket filtering to the degree it is done. Schools can be compliant with CIPA and other rules without shutting us all out of information that helps us remain relevant to our students.
Stepping down off soapbox.
“complacence.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.
Merriam-Webster Online. 17 October 2009