Joplin Teachers Urge Nixon to Veto Facebook Bill

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State Representative Jane Cunningham has no problem with child labor -- but boy is Facebook dangerous to Missouri's youngsters!
The Missouri Legislature passed a bill two weeks ago designed to protect children from predatory school teachers. But the bill has stirred up some surprising opposition -- from the teachers in tornado-damaged Joplin.

Those teachers are asking Governor Jay Nixon to veto Senate Bill 54, a.k.a. the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, because it would effectively ban them from using Facebook or other social media sites to communicate with their pupils, the News-Leader reports. And as the deadly tornado in Joplin has shown, Facebook isn't just a tool for would-be Humbert Humberts or Anthony Weiners -- it's also an effective way for a community to keep track of its members after a disaster.

School officials explained to the News-Leader that Facebook had been instrumental in uniting students after a tornado decimated their town.

According to the paper,

The school district put the News-Leader in contact with Bruce Vonder Haar, a high school TV production teacher. He wasn't familiar with the provisions of the bill but described teachers' efforts after the disaster.

Vonder Haar said he spoke to students through the school TV station's Facebook page. Through that page, he found a handful of students who had previously not been located.

"Facebook was a big part, for sure," he said.

According to its official summary, the bill would ban such activity, with a provision stating that "teachers cannot establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child's legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian. Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student." Since Facebook allows private messaging, the site would ostensibly be verboten.

The bill was sent to Governor Nixon on May 26. He told the News-Leader he hadn't read it yet. (And what with flooding in one part of the state and the ongoing crisis in Joplin, it's kind of hard to blame him on that one.)

Incidentally, the bill's primary sponsor was state Senator Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield -- who, while declaring her love for the children in this instance, hasn't been nearly so interested in their welfare in the past.

Earlier this year, Cunningham drew near-universal scorn (and national headlines) for introducing a bizarre bill that would allow child labor in Missouri.

As Daily RFT's Chad Garrison reported at the time, the bill would remove restrictions on children under fourteen joining the workforce. Garrison writes, "They'd also be able to work all hours of the day, no longer need a work permit from their school and be able to work at motels and resorts so long as they're given a place to lay their weary heads each night. Moreover, businesses that employ children would no longer be subject to inspections from the Division of Labor Standards."

Yep, this lady is definitely into protecting children. Thank God she's here to save the pupils of Missouri from schoolteachers -- certainly, the plutocrats and corporate mavens of this state are much more likely to have the kiddos' best interests at heart than their own teachers.

What a joke.

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Mike Smart
Mike Smart

Educators should be seeking out social media tools to help kids connect in more meaningful ways with the world around them. Please veto this!

JudgeNot
JudgeNot

"Responsible" parents will have access to their kid'sFacebook page and activities. For example: I sat in the break room at work oneday and listened to a grandmother talk about her granddaughter and how she hasa Facebook page. One of the young guys asked what her name was and pulled outhis smart phone and pulled her up....asked the grandmother how old shewas...she said 14...he said is this her...grandmother said "yes" andhe said on here she says she is 17... Grandmother was appalled and told the dadthat night. Please, don't say "my child would NEVER do that!" Please!What planet are you from....kids don't see anything wrong with sexting...butthe Justice Department does...and they invite them to be on the Sex OffenderRegistry along with 760,000 other men, women and CHILDREN. I know a lady who isa councilor who has a teen son and says there is "no" electronicdevice in her home that she doesn't have access to. Why? Kids need parenting.

Second, read for yourself via studies from the Justice Policy Institute andVera Institute who is most likely to sexually abuse your kids....

Lastly, you might want to study-up on the Missouri Sex Offender Laws withregard to teens....the Adam Walsh Act and SORNA will put more of them on theregistry....I'm just sayin' stop attacking and arm yourself with knowledge.

guest
guest

Thank you for writing about this. Teachers are facing huge obstacles in the challenge to connect with a generation of kids that are currently undergoing a major shift in the way they communicate. Social networking is probably the preferred method of communicating for the majority of young people today, and many teachers are innocuously taking advantage of Facebook to help with homework and enhance learning. A teacher's job is to help students learn as effectively as possible. This bill does not help. It hurts. 

Is our state government even reading the bills they are passing? 

Billly
Billly

I'm shocked, SHOCKED, to find Republicans using the law as a blunt instrument to solve non-existent problems.

Randy Turner
Randy Turner

I posted a video on The Turner Report earlier today where Speaker of the House Steve Tilley was asked about the bill and he did not even know the bill existed or that it had passed and was on the governor's desk.

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