Filtering is Not Censorship
The fact that pornography on the Internet is both ubiquitous and unavoidable and that students may access it -- from school, at home, from the library, with friends, etc. -- suggests only that we as parents, teachers and community members must be aware of the risks and consequences. Most importantly, we should understand the difference between censorship and filtering.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (www.m-w.com/netdict.htm) defines "censor" as "an official who examines materials for objectionable matter; an official (as in time of war) who reads and deletes material considered sensitive or harmful." Censorship is an act of government that, by definition, precludes free choice. The US constitution guarantees free speech, and thus restricts government censorship dramatically. Censorship at other times is a violation of our civil rights.
Parents and teachers filter students and kids' exposure to all sorts of things all the time. We monitor their playmates and don't let them talk to strangers. We are encouraged to monitor and control what shows they watch on TV, the songs they listen to on the radio and the books they read. This is to a very great degree what good parenting is all about.
Schools act in "loco parentis" when teaching children and so standards of health and safety that apply to parents apply generally to teachers. Just as importantly, teachers teach by providing students with information and accompanying analysis. The whole notion of a scope and sequence suggests that as teachers we take responsibility for determining the information content of a child's education. By teaching them arithmetic before we teach them calculus we filter their exposure to mathematical information.
Acceptable Use Policies
Many schools are adopting "Acceptable Use Policies" -- documents that describe how the Internet is to be used in school and the consequences for its misuse. To be most effective, acceptable use policies should be based on a thorough analysis …