America's public schools are mini Egypts, with their internet heavily censored by repressive dictators (The Administration.) But students and teachers have had enough! Give them Facebook or give them death!
Yesterday was Banned Website Awareness Day, which is sponsored, rather paradoxically, by the American Association of School Librarians. It's meant to raise awareness of the fact that in many public schools, overzealous internet filters block all of the fun and useful stuff from the internet: Websites with barely-questionable content, social media like YouTube, Facebook and personal blogs, and (we assume) Gawker.com.
According to the New York Times, students and teachers in the Bronx recently launched an email bomb against the Department of Education to protest their school's blocking of personal blogs and social media sites. Another high school librarian hosted a forum debating the merits of filtering:
He asked his students to consider whether schools should block sites espousing neo-Nazi or racist ideas. "It makes them think about it in deeper ways than if they were just to say, ‘No, don't block it,' " he said.
It is dumb to filter websites in school libraries, since this the only place most kids will use the internet under the watchful eye of an adult, versus cyberbullying each other from their respective bedrooms. If they're going to read neo-Nazi or racist ideas on the internet (i.e. the vast majority of internet comments) they may as well have someone looking over their shoulder to talk to about it. Even worse: With so much of the web inaccessible at school, kids might enter college never having gained the important Wikipedia-plagiarizing skills they need to succeed.