Monday, June 25, 2001

NYC School Censors

John Elfrank-Dana wrote:

I hope everyone is having a good time at NECC.

The new BOE policy for publishing web pages here in NYC is the following.

1. All schools (1100 of them) are supposed to submit their web sites (even those of us who have been hosting independently for years), and their teachers’ sites to the Board of Ed. server.

2. A district censor is supposed to review all the material of each site and have it moved to the public viewing area, assuming it’s in compliance with the new acceptable use policy, which includes no links to sites that have a commercial advertisement. The censors will move the content along at “their earliest possible convenience.”

3. No chats or asynchronous bulletin boards allowed!

Anyone who has ever web mastered an active school or class web site that functions as a real communications hub for timely information and class dialogue should be equally dismayed as me.
The policy will go in force Sept. 1. They won’t even tell us how much disk space we will have. They also refuse to support FrontPage extensions (many of us use them to create active pages and discussions forums for our classes).

One practical outcome of this policy: The

Board’s AUP is in Adobe Acrobat, but I can’t link for our visitors to download the Acrobat Reader because Adobe has ads on its site!! 2. Our e-books collection, which VATEA funded for thousands of dollars, won’t work because it requires a web server on location.

3. No discussion boards for class discussions (protected or not).

This policy was conceived by Board of Ed. lawyers and techs who are not now nor have been educators. It’s another slap in the face to teachers as professionals. It’s like the doctors under managed care who have lost control of their practice. For teachers who use the Internet as an instructional tool, this is very heavy-handed policy.

Are other districts implementing similar policies? If so, how has it been going? What organizations, if any, have an interest in this kind of policy? What rights, if any, do teachers have to control the content of their instruction? Is this an intrusion into teacher practice?


John Elfrank-Dana

Web Master/ Social Studies Teacher

Murry Bergtraum High School

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