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Fixing Internet Censorship In Schools

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the students-have-no-idea-who-our-former-vp-is dept.

Censorship 207

jcatcw writes "Schools and libraries are hurting students by setting up heavy-handed Web filtering. The problem goes back for years. A filter blocked the Web site of former House Majority Leader Richard Armey because it detected the word 'dick,' according to a 2001 study from the Brennan Center of Justice. The purpose of schools should be to teach students to live in a democratic society, and that means teaching critical thinking and showing students controversial Web sites, says Craig Cunningham, a professor at National-Louis University. He quoted from a National Research Council study: 'Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks ... [or] teach them to swim.' Web filtering also leads to inequities in education based on household income. Students from more affluent areas have access to the Internet at home and, often, more enlightened parents who can let them access information blocked in schools and libraries. Poorer students without home access don't have those opportunities."

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207 comments

but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631466)

think.....of......the.......children.......

Re:but (2, Interesting)

Hardolaf (1371377) | about 4 years ago | (#31631506)

I'm one of those children and the web filters are annoying when trying to research topics such as caffeine addiction.

Re:but (2, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 4 years ago | (#31631548)

I've been a child for several decades, but for some reason, all those filters let me through!

Re:but (1)

Hardolaf (1371377) | about 4 years ago | (#31631642)

They let me through when I bypass them (against school policy) but that is the only way to do any sort of research from school. Or view educational videos on youtube during class on the projectors.

Re:but (1)

dsavi (1540343) | about 4 years ago | (#31631560)

Luckily enough my school does not block any websites, however we are forced to live on a 4mbit connection for a school of ~800. I would say it was a stupid decision on the part of the network administrator, but a) He doesn't decide how much is spent on the connection and b) Few people at my school use the Internet for anything productive anyway, given half the chance.

Re:but (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | about 4 years ago | (#31631892)

What the hell kind of sites were you trying to go to? I think you need to refine your research skills a bit. (HINT: if the url doesn't end in .EDU or .GOV, it's probably not a good source.)

Re:but (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#31631956)

I know what you mean... I tried to go to whitehouse.com to do research on the president's family, but for some reason it was blocked! ;-)

Re:but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632190)

In the US, schools that receive federal funding are required by law to filter internet content for students (Children's Internet Protection Act). As a public school computer technician, I'm not given a choice about that. Schools do block a lot of content for other reasons - mostly classroom discipline issues. Personally, I don't think this is a good use of content filtering. If a kid is playing games in class, treat it the same way you would if they were playing games in class without a computer. If a kid is chatting online, or texting, treat it the same way you would if they were passing notes. Still, the actual content filtering is required.

Think of the... (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#31631476)

Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks ... [or] teach them to swim.'

Won't somebody think of the lock makers!

Re:Think of the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631592)

No Problems... fixed it for ya!

To protect them, one can install locks ... [AND] teach them to swim.

Who says we can't have cake and eat it..
oh...maybe the cake is a lie?

bad analogy? (2, Insightful)

Simulant (528590) | about 4 years ago | (#31631552)

'Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks ... [or] teach them to swim.'

I'm tired & slow today... someone please explain this analogy with respect to internet porn (which is the context from which the quote was taken). The possibilities seem endless.

Re:bad analogy? (3, Funny)

AlexBirch (1137019) | about 4 years ago | (#31631618)

'Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks ... [or] teach them to swim.'

I'm tired & slow today... someone please explain this analogy with respect to internet porn (which is the context from which the quote was taken). The possibilities seem endless.

The analogy is good, because once you learn how to swim, you can never drown.

Re:bad analogy? (5, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | about 4 years ago | (#31631630)

The analogy is that the internet is like a pool. It can be dangerous for your children, so you should either keep them out of it, or teach them how to survive inside it.

While I am in general agreement with the lock your pool/teach the kids to swim metaphor, I have to wonder if it distracts us from more important questions regarding internet usage in schools.

I use the internet for research all the time--where there are gaps in my knowledge of home maintenance or repair, for example, or if I am just curious about the etymology of a word. In law school I used the internet for legal research. The internet is a fabulous tool for research.

However, I don't remember doing any research in school, ever. Class time was instruction time. Research, when it was necessary at all, was done at the library or at home. Learning research skills is something that can be done without a computer. Those skills can then be generalized to the computer.

While I think students should be learning something about computers, and computer research, at school, I doubt that filters actually hamper those lessons much. Filters undoubtedly do hamper the ability to get results, but that is not the point of doing research in a K-12 environment. So while I am not a fan of filters, I doubt that they pose nearly the problem that certain people think they pose. Rather, they provide a good opportunity to shout "censorship" which is a great way to draw attention to oneself.

Re:bad analogy? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 4 years ago | (#31631836)

Depending on what they filter, prehaps filtering should be used simply to not allow kids to waste their time "researching." If you're using a school computer for "research" then you should be researching your topic, not using facebook or whatever.

Totally unfiltering/uncensoring is basically like giving people the option of "go outside and play" or "stay inside and study." Most kids choose to play rather than study by nature. That's why if you leave a kid to do what he wants until he's 15, you probably won't end up with a well-rounded, educated, well-behaved member of society...

Re:bad analogy? (1)

Simulant (528590) | about 4 years ago | (#31631898)

"The analogy is that the internet is like a pool. It can be dangerous for your children, so you should either keep them out of it, or teach them how to survive inside it."

Sorry, I'm still not getting the analogy. Is he trying to say that it's just a matter of telling our children, "No, you shouldn't go to pr0ntube.com during class."? Even if that works for most, it wouldn't for a some, and school internet censorship is as much about preventing classroom disruption as it is about "protecting the children".

Not that I'm for censorship... but I can't fault anyone for trying to block gonzo porn on school networks. It seems to me that allowing teachers to temporarily bypass the filters as needed is the best compromise.

Re:bad analogy? (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#31631842)

Different analogy: In the US, kids today are not allowed to even taste alcohol until they move out of their parents homes and into college dorms, upon which time most immediately start engaging in binge drinking because they have never learned what their limits are with respect to alcohol. Societies wherein children regularly imbibe wine with their parents during meals have far fewer problems with alcoholism. Want to really education your child? Take him/her out and get them totally puking drunk just once, then videotape them (and don't go easy on them). Show them the video as soon as they sober up. They'll learn how stupid they look after drinking, and they'll probably never touch whatever they got puking drunk on again (our instincts are to stay away from anything that makes us throw up).

With regards to the internet, they will inevitably see inappropriate content at some point; they need to learn how to deal with it without making a big deal out of it. While I could happily have lived my life without ever having seen Goatse guy or tubgirl, at some point students will be turned loose onto the internet with only their self-discipline for control. Better they learn how to control themselves then try to keep them locked in a tower; eventually, they are going to get out.

Re:bad analogy? (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | about 4 years ago | (#31632028)

> In the US, kids today are not allowed to even taste alcohol until they move out of their parents homes

That's actually not true across the board. In some states, parents can give their children alcohol.

The purpose is not to protect children... (3, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#31631568)

...it is to protect teachers and adminstrators against religious zealots.

Re:The purpose is not to protect children... (3, Insightful)

thatblackguy (1132805) | about 4 years ago | (#31631660)

The only way to truly do that is to become as crazy as the zealots. Anything short of that and you will still find objections.

Fuck them, drag them into 2010. Or at least (in the case of America) remind them that they can't simultaneously chant LAND OF THE FREE and omg, censor that.

Re:The purpose is not to protect children... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631712)

LAND OF THE FREE forced to purchase healthcare...

Re:The purpose is not to protect children... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631868)

remind them that they can't simultaneously chant LAND OF THE FREE and omg, censor that

Sure they can. People do it every day. As humans, we're not bound by the rules of logic... Just take a look at our law makers...

Re:The purpose is not to protect children... (1)

kent_eh (543303) | about 4 years ago | (#31632388)

The only way to truly do that is to become as crazy as the zealots.

Any psychiatrist will tell you that it's pointless to argue with, debate with, or try to use logic against a person suffering from delusions.
That person is not capable of being swayed by rational, sensible, or logical information. Unless it seems to them to agree with what they believe to be true.

What to do with that sort of person?
Save yourself. Do your best to not get dragged into their world. Try to minimize the harm to others that they do.

Re:The purpose is not to protect children... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#31632628)

While this is true, any psychiatrist will tell you that you're way off topic. A 'zealot' in these terms is absolutely not a person suffering from any kind of psychosis, and you likely know it.

Citing a psychiatrist alongside your own anti-religious zealotry makes my logic detector ache.

Re:The purpose is not to protect children... (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 years ago | (#31632708)

Religion and freedom are mutually exclusive, because religion = submission.

Re:The purpose is not to protect children... (1)

stimpleton (732392) | about 4 years ago | (#31632634)

This is unfortunately become true. I repeat here a quote from a early child teacher at a pre-school center on the glass walls: "It is for the protection of the staff".

It's completely pointless. (4, Insightful)

areusche (1297613) | about 4 years ago | (#31631570)

Many kids I know nowadays have a phone with web access enabled. Why bother trying to block facebook when they can just simply browse over their cell phones?

Heck when I was in high school I had a teacher use a wireless air card to get onto youtube since the district tech staff were blocking so many websites for no reason whatsoever.

Re:It's completely pointless. (2, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | about 4 years ago | (#31631750)

Many schools do ban cell phones, or require that they at least be turned off while the kids are on school premises.

Re:It's completely pointless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631856)

As a recent High School student, I assure you those rules are generally ineffective.

The one thing I will note is how difficult the filters make it for operating a modern newspaper enterprise. The various competitions / awards out there generally expect the paper to involved on Twitter and Facebook given the demographic of their audience, but with both of those websites blocked, it makes it difficult for the staff to carry on their operations within the rules.

Re:It's completely pointless. (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 4 years ago | (#31631766)

use a wireless air card

Thanks... that made me feel old.. i remember high school and the filters - i also remember setting up my own proxies so i could log into some muds

Re:It's completely pointless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632500)

Thanks... that made me feel old.. I remember high school and internet nowhere to be found.

Re:It's completely pointless. (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#31632662)

use a wireless air card

Thanks... that made me feel old.. i remember high school and the filters - i also remember setting up my own proxies so i could log into some muds

Dear lord. I remember Winsock-Trumpet, Gopher, and PINE. Porn wasn't much of an issue as the internet was nearly entirely text. And YOU feel old...

Re:It's completely pointless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632760)

Thanks... that made me feel old.. i remember high school and the filters

When I was in school, the only filters were in the teacher's lounge next to the coffee maker. But we did have access to the net; it was hanging from a basketball goal.

Re:It's completely pointless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631938)

YouTube to me is one of the poster children for good/bad Internet. I suspect that it's widely filtered, and there is age-inappropriate and certainly time-wasting content, but the amount of good and sometimes very good content on YouTube is huge. If you're studying a piece of music, there are probably multiple interpretation of that piece there. I would have really liked to have been able to use some of the chess lessons on YouTube. The list is endless.

When I asked the school district why it was blocked the best that they could come up with was that comments aren't filtered.

Re:It's completely pointless. (1)

AldoRaine (1776690) | about 4 years ago | (#31632006)

If the school district was found to be allowing students to access Youtube videos that were "obscene" or "harmful to minors", they could be out a ton of money. They filter for CIPA compliance, and they realize it won't stop every proxy students have in their arsenal. It covers their ass and saves them money - that's the only reason. Content filtering can get pretty expensive, and without CIPA I imagine more districts might adopt unrestricted access.

Re:It's completely pointless. (0, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#31632722)

This would be in all caps if the filter didn't stop me ...

WHY THE FUCK DOES YOUR SCHOOL KID NEED A CELL PHONE?!

Thats right, he/she doesn't, and thats how you block facebook on the phone. Why the fuck are parents letting their children go to school with fucking phones? They don't actually have any reason to need to be that contactable.

Heck when I was in high school I had a teacher use a wireless air card to get onto youtube since the district tech staff were blocking so many websites for no reason whatsoever.

So you just got out of school ... let me how tell you how high I rank the opinion of a school kid telling me about how it should be for school kids ... You might want to leave that part out next time.

My local swimming pool... (4, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | about 4 years ago | (#31631594)

Doesn't let children under 8 enter the pool without an adult accompanying them. and staying close by. Seems a fair enough analogy.

an excellent argument... (4, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 years ago | (#31631616)

...from someone who doesn't work for a school district, nor will be crucified by the politicians, school board (who are politicians), parents, and news media when little johnny pulls up something "objectionable".

actually people loose their actual careers over this kinda stuff.... you have to at least *try* to filter.

Re:an excellent argument... (1)

BassMan449 (1356143) | about 4 years ago | (#31632238)

And this is exactly the problem. The problem is in our overly litigious society, you have to cater to the lowest common denominator or they will sue you when they are unhappy. If we would fix that problem, then it wouldn't be such a danger for the school when something does happen.

Re:an excellent argument... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#31632704)

If we would fix that problem, then it wouldn't be such a danger for the school when something does happen.

There exists a really obvious solution - socialism. Surrender all notions of recourse against the government and there will be no issues of anyone bringing a lawsuit against the public schools.

That would have drawbacks as well, clearly, but I guess you should be careful what you wish for, right?

Otherwise we could retain the ability to sue and expect them to behave accordingly. That seems to be working out okay as well.

Re:an excellent argument... (3, Interesting)

SuperQ (431) | about 4 years ago | (#31632326)

No, you don't. I helped run the network for a school a while back. We didn't filter anything. We logged everything using a proxy. We simply made it very well known to the students that anything they surfed would be logged. We never had any issues. This was even the school for "bad kids"

We had a couple of the "bad hackers" from the highschool. We made them (with supervision) in charge of keeping the linux machines in the computer lab running.

So much slips past the filters... (1)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | about 4 years ago | (#31631622)

Do a search for "yiff" or "yiffing" on a filtered computer or search engine. It'll glide ride past to some pretty amazing stuff. Also try going to rangarig.net on a filtered computer. You'll be stunned.

Re:So much slips past the filters... (2, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 4 years ago | (#31631810)

Do a search for "yiff" or "yiffing" on a filtered computer or search engine.

No. No thank you. I'd rather not.

Re:So much slips past the filters... (2, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 4 years ago | (#31631940)

Do a search for "yiff"...

Geoffrey Chaucer:
...That yiff that god that hevene and erthe made
Wolde haue a love For beaute and goodness
And womanhede and trouthe and semelynesse ...

I disagree with your premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631636)

I disagree with your premise.

Schools definitely need highly restrictive filters since any inappropriate content displayed on school computers is unacceptable. Basically, the filter set needs to satisfy the most restrictive church going mothers.

Re:I disagree with your premise (2, Interesting)

Marc Desrochers (606563) | about 4 years ago | (#31631734)

... satisfy the Amish.

Re:I disagree with your premise (2, Informative)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#31632756)

... satisfy the Amish.

I think the present filters satisfy every Amish parent with children in public school already. In that there are probably zero, and if there were any they would likely not use a computer with that being against their religion?

Webfilters, a great motivator! (3, Insightful)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | about 4 years ago | (#31631658)

If you really want a kid to learn how computers work, put a filter between them in the internet. They'll figure out a way to circumvent it if they're smart. And if they're too stupid to break out, think of it as a your-kid filter for the internet and not an internet filter for your kid.

Everybody wins!

Re:Webfilters, a great motivator! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631896)

Sorta like those door-knob baffles to keep kids inside. Once they learn how they work, they can get past, but we hope they are old enough to be safe outside by the time they learn.

Re:Webfilters, a great motivator! (0, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#31632404)

Just because you and a couple other people who are above the mildly retarded rating figured out how easy it was to get around a few filters doesn't mean the majority of the students will.

Heres a better idea, how about teaching your kid that occasionally he/she has to follow the fucking rules, like it or not rather than going along and letting them think they should get their way all the freaking time.

Critical thinking (3, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | about 4 years ago | (#31631670)

Children aren't taught critical thinking because they might grow up to be... critical thinkers.

Unthinking, uncritical people are easier to control and/or coerce to your will.

Re:Critical thinking (1, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#31632422)

Aren't you witty and complex ... this most certainly backs up your conspiracy theory, whatever retarded one it is this week, I'm sure the government is out to get you and this is obviously proof!

You can't teach that in shcool. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 4 years ago | (#31632454)

Children don't learn critical thinking in school because critical thinking can't be learned in a controlled environment.

Re:Critical thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632680)

How about...we don't teach critical thinking skills for the following reasons:

1) The model of curriculum is based on what was done 60+ years ago. At that time, people didn't get nearly as much schooling (not finishing high school was common). Thus, in the limited time they had with kids, schools taught facts.

2) Critical thinking is harder. People don't like things they're not good at. Too much critical thinking makes kids dislike school (more than they already do) and tune the whole thing out.

That's a cop out, but the biggest issue with our school system is: schools are not really made to send kids to college. 40 years ago, only the best students went. Those kids were able to make the jump from fact-based regurgitation (just as today's best kids are as well), so it wasn't a problem. The rest don't make that jump well, and struggle in college, which requires critical thinking (as well as more self-discipline).

But still, the problem we have is that we send ALL our kids to the same high school, and then wonder why some of them really can't hack it. Other countries (Japan, China) put higher standards for admission to high school, and thus you have a much better crowd. This would likely be unacceptable to American society, which has decided that everyone can make it at the same level. This is, of course, impossible at a sufficiently advanced level, so we decrease the level to the point where it becomes possible.

No answer will be perfect (5, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | about 4 years ago | (#31631680)

No single solution will be perfect in a "for the children" argument.

Here is what I would do/suggest.

1) Make a sensible AUP for school computers. No Porn, etc.

2) Have sensible punishments for breaking the AUP. (No cops, no expulsions. Detention sure, suspension/parental notification, if you have to.)

3) Leave the net _wide open_ for each student.

4) Log all activity so that in the event it is suspected a student broke the AUP you can verify the infringement took place and apply a sensible punishment.

5) Break the AUP too many times and you can only use school computers under strict filters, or under direct supervision (read: someone watching over your shoulder) in addition to normal punishment.

Don't coddle. Don't expell. Don't freak out. Just teach the kids what is and isn't acceptable and let them learn how to deal with rules and sensible punishments.

Yes, this means kids might get exposed to hardcore porn from time to time. Big f'in deal. For me the net wasn't around and I saw good ol' VHS tapes. It happens whether you threaten death as a punishment or cookies as a reward. It will still happen.

But in my opinion. School is there to learn, not stifle. Teach and use the full brunt of the tools we have to do it.

Sadly, probably won't happen because little miss perfect's perfect mother will sue the school because her daughter heard that another student might have seen a naked picture on a school computer.

Re:No answer will be perfect (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 4 years ago | (#31632008)

Step 1) install program that will pop up predetermined websites when certain users log in randomly. Hide program, scrub logs that it was installed.
Step 2) Wait for people on the user list to log on
Step 3) ???
Step 4) Profit!

Re:No answer will be perfect (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#31632658)

1) Make a sensible AUP for school computers. No Porn, etc.

Uhm, already done ... everywhere ... and it pretty much limits access to school computers to school related purposes.

2) Have sensible punishments for breaking the AUP. (No cops, no expulsions. Detention sure, suspension/parental notification, if you have to.)

And since parents don't actually punish their kids anymore ... what do you do when no 'sensible' punishment works?

3) Leave the net _wide open_ for each student.

No this is retarded, no student needs to get everywhere. The computers at school are there to facilitate progress in school. Not for you to checkout slashdot or the latest news from Valve. Its not your computer, its not your network, its not playtime for little Billy while mommy and daddy go to work. Its school for learning, and contrary to popular belief, just dicking around on the Internet really doesn't result in a whole lot of learning for 99.999999% of the population. Geeks are unique in that respect, what applies to geeks doesn't apply to 99.9999999999999999999% of the school students of any age.

4) Log all activity so that in the event it is suspected a student broke the AUP you can verify the infringement took place and apply a sensible punishment.

And tomorrow you'll be in here ranting about privacy of the students and how its wrong that they get logged and how it can be used for bad things blah blah blah

5) Break the AUP too many times and you can only use school computers under strict filters, or under direct supervision (read: someone watching over your shoulder) in addition to normal punishment.

WTF, stop being such a fucking pussy. They break the rules, their done. You know why they keep breaking the rules? You keep letting them. They break them, you say 'no!' and thats the end of it, so they have no real reason to not do anything. You're trying to treat school students as responsible mature adults when in reality you can't treat most adults that way, the idea of trying to do it on children is just retarded and I'd be willing to bet comes from someone with no children, probably just fresh out of school.

Don't coddle. Don't expell. Don't freak out. Just teach the kids what is and isn't acceptable and let them learn how to deal with rules and sensible punishments.

They aren't going to learn from you because even when you sit down to write a post on slashdot you get confused in your own post about punishing them or not. You can't expect them to learn what to do when you haven't even figured it out yet.

But in my opinion. School is there to learn, not stifle. Teach and use the full brunt of the tools we have to do it.

Yes, school is there to learn, but most of the learning isn't about what you can read in a book its about growing up and learning to be a responsible productive member of society. You're going to forget the other 95% of what you learn at the party after graduation. You need to come about with the ability to solve problems where you DON'T know the answer and you need to be able to function in the real world. Knowing when Columbus discovered America is irrelevant to everyone except about 8 archeologist who would have learned that even if they never heard of him in grade school.

If you think the point of school is to come out with a bunch of information stored in your brain that you've memorized from books than you have gotten the raw end of the deal in your education and I'm afraid you've utterly missed the point of it, I'm sorry for you.

Sadly, probably won't happen because little miss perfect's perfect mother will sue the school because her daughter heard that another student might have seen a naked picture on a school computer.

Which wouldn't have been an issue if you weren't so busy trying to please the students and instead acted like a responsible adult and kept them focused on the task at hand rather than letting them wonder randomly around the Internet as they see fit and then giving them a slap on the wrist when they do what they aren't supposed to do ... like every child since the beginning of time has done to test the bounds it can get by with.

CIPA Compliance (5, Informative)

ohchaos (564646) | about 4 years ago | (#31631722)

In order to receive Federal E-Rate discounts, public schools are required to have filtering mechanisms in place that meet the standards set by the Children's Internet Protection Act.

I've administered K12 networks with internet access for over 15 years (both pre-CIPA, and post CIPA)... I personally preferred not having to filter and teaching personal responsibility, especially with high school students. Usually a couple times a semester a student would make a bad choice, and would be made an example of.... which would usually keep the rest of the students on the straight and narrow.

But for now, CIPA is the law of the land, so if you want free choice and thinking on your school's internet connection, contact your senator and congressman, because local admins really have no choice in this matter.

Re:CIPA Compliance (2, Interesting)

AldoRaine (1776690) | about 4 years ago | (#31631848)

I was just about to post this. CIPA requires that schools operate "a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors."

E-Rate offers school districts enormous discounts on certain products and services, so CIPA makes it cost ineffective to offer unrestricted Internet access to students.

Re:CIPA Compliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632296)

CIPA?? Wow!! That is one very *poor* choice of words!

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cipa

Re:CIPA Compliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632504)

Or pay higher taxes so schools don't have to have restrictive funding. So...that will never happen.

Facts? (4, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | about 4 years ago | (#31631744)

I like how a blog post that simply states, without evidence, that web filters lead to income-based educational inequalities is simply asserted in TFS as a fact. Also how TFS chooses to copy text directly from said blog post without using quotation marks.

So what? (3, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 4 years ago | (#31631778)

Kids in poorer homes probably miss out on a lot of opportunities. Are you going to legislate that away too ?

Re:So what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631832)

Spot on. I mean think about it - those with fewer resources have a harder time competing. Shocking, isn't it? Since you can't pick your parents the kids are just stuck with this fact. As you say, legislating around it would be silly - AND would remove the very competition that drives us.

Legalities (1)

squ3lch (1594723) | about 4 years ago | (#31631820)

It may be all about lawsuits. If some precious snowflake sees another looking at some illicit site at school and tells his parents, the school would almost certainly face legal repercussions because it was "preventable" on some level. Block 'em all and you don't have to deal with that.

We live in a world that promotes the Nanny state (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31631824)

The purpose of schools should be to teach students to live in a democratic society, and that means teaching critical thinking and showing students controversial Web sites, says Craig Cunningham, a professor at National-Louis University.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/03/25/teachers-leave-boy-stranded-tree-school-policy/ [foxnews.com]

That is a story about a 5 year old being stranded in a tree. The teachers "watched from afar" because of a school policy. A passerby stopped to help, and now faces possible legal action. That example happens to from the UK, but there is plenty of the same sort of thing going on in the US. We are being conditioned to not to do anything without the approval and assistance of the government.

The Nanny state would not like it if people could think critically all on their own without the government there to make sure they don't hurt themselves.

Re:We live in a world that promotes the Nanny stat (2, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 4 years ago | (#31632346)

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/03/25/teachers-leave-boy-stranded-tree-school-policy/ [foxnews.com]

That is a story about a 5 year old being stranded in a tree. The teachers "watched from afar" because of a school policy. A passerby stopped to help, and now faces possible legal action.

An inaccurate story [fivechinesecrackers.com], as it turns out. It didn't happen that way at all.

As usual, Fox is a source of negative information.

Anyway, isn't it kind of odd to claim that the neglect of a child (which, I repeat, did not actually occur) means the promotion of the "Nanny state"? Aren't nannies supposed to be protecting children, not neglecting them? But I guess that would require some thought about just what a "Nanny state" means, and it's clearly not a phrase meant to provoke thought; it's just a right-wing shibboleth.

Bwahahahahhahahah! (1)

joshamania (32599) | about 4 years ago | (#31631846)

"The purpose of schools should be to teach students to live in a democratic society, and that means teaching critical thinking..."

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So... go around them? (1)

digitalsolo (1175321) | about 4 years ago | (#31631952)

Hmm, I just learned to be sneaky enough to get admin access to the network at school, and relevant passwords to bypass the filters. Perhaps they're really just teaching the students how to be sneaky?

Internet Filtering is a false promise (1)

mcspoo (933106) | about 4 years ago | (#31631980)

Internet filtering is a false promise. It provides a false sense of security: no one will be able to look at naked women and Goats.cx with filtering on. Its a business function completely based upon a false premise.
Many tools exist that even kids can understand to bypass filtering. For example, Circumventor. Totally simple way to bypass lots of security filters. URL obfuscation. Sites exist to HELP you obfuscate URLs.
In the vein of the article... assuming you MUST use filtering (and many libraries must in order to get state/federal funding... ) its entirely correct: the decision on what is obscene and what is not should not be made by a system admin or more specifically, by a software developer who may exist in a completely different community with entirely different views on what is obscene and what is not.
Oh, and I AM thinking of the children. I don't want my kids growing up to be afraid of swear words, naked people, or other obscenities, and retreating from society to hide in a Pakistan cave... Technology cannot cure society ills. At least not until we can effectively erase free will and turn everyone into automatons...

But we have.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632012)

Teach children to think? No! We have a book and computers to do that for them.

STDs are really nasty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632202)

My mother used to teach Biology at 6th form level (~16-18 year olds.) STDs are really important parts of the syllabus and she found that it was impossible for her students to research the topic on the internet in her college because of proxy filtering. Whilst porn is not appropriate in schools, it is clear that "sex" doesn't mean porn.

Caveats:
1. I am an anonomous coward

2. I have read only half the summary and not the article (normal here no?)

3. Long time lurker; Never bothered to post before

From Second Hand Experience... (1)

gers0667 (459800) | about 4 years ago | (#31632218)

My wife is an Art teacher and runs in to this problem all of the time. She tries to show her students famous works of art, the easiest way being through Google Image Search. Of course, this doesn't work, since you could possibly get something bad. For now, she uses Bing's image search, but it's only a matter of time before this is killed, too.

Re:From Second Hand Experience... (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 4 years ago | (#31632304)

Hm, I wonder if Microsoft is paying the people that are demanding web filtering. With a little 'intentional stupidity', they could be tricking the schools.

Ugh... Can't kids surf porn at home with their pa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632318)

How about just leaving the libraries and schools for learning reading, writing and arithmetic and letting the parents determine how their kids are raised socially?
LEAVE THE FILTERING IN PLACE!!!!!

protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632410)

The reality is that we generally try to put some level of protection so that kids don't happen upon information that they aren't prepared to deal with until they've been taught. Unfortunately, you can't teach anyone everything all at once.

We don't generally leave poisonous chemicals or boxes of matches laying around where uninformed kids will get to them. We've found that it's not practical to teach them all about the dangers of everything all at once, especially when they're too young to understand the dangers. We protect them from some things for some period of time, until they're ready to handle the responsibility.

Information can be just as dangerous, when handed out without the proper training., I believe that some level of protection from some types of information on the internet is justified to protect those who haven't yet learned enough to use the information responsibly.

Um, actually... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#31632438)

"Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks ... [or] teach them to swim."

If you fill one swimming pool with chlorinated water, and another with beer, which one will the kids want to be around? And what will they do when they get there?

On the other hand, you need lifeguards at both, until the kids are sufficiently mature to not drown so easily. Which will happen much later at the beer pool. You'll need a curfew and age limits.

So much for analogy.

Liabilities (1)

drumcat (1659893) | about 4 years ago | (#31632514)

Let's be honest. Filtering is about not getting sued. Kids go home and see way worse. Then they come back to school with that URL, and they would leave it on a screen for all to see. I know; I did it. Stupid, 8-bit gifs of boobies, because I could. If the wrong person sees that, someone gets in trouble. If a parent hears though that whitehouse.com is available without a reasonable measure of protection, all holy hell fire and brimstone is comin' down on your terrorist school for those boobies. But don't forget; you can't unsee goatse. You sure you want a 9 year old going there? I'm all for freedoms, but let's just be a little careful.

Missing the point. (1)

Mekkah (1651935) | about 4 years ago | (#31632526)

Guys, seriously? Everyone agrees filtering can be bad and blocks good/legit websites! But think about it from the administrations perspective. You see schools getting sued all the time and teachers getting fired for mentioning different religions, sex, drugs, evolution in Texas. The problem isn't that there isn't a need for the hard filtering, we need to prevent these dumb as shit lawsuits from going anywhere and let teachers teach.

Parents, take responsibility for your dumbass kid and spank his 17 year old ass when he looks at porn at school, don't complain that he was able to.

Dick Cheney? (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 4 years ago | (#31632600)

Poor guy. Not only did he serve under Bush, he's also the single most filtered guy on the Internet.

Keeps me from doing my job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31632604)

So I actually work in a school as an Americorps VISTA. My job is to help expand our after-school programs and find grants and opportunities for our kids. The webfilter at my work is maniacal and idiotic.

It blocked me from researching gang prevention programs simply because it had the word "Gang" in it. For ages, it kept me from accessing google docs, for so called "productivity reasons" I can only assume that the webfilter was designed to keep those using it from actually being productive. I can get access to blocked websites, but I have to wait weeks as our Central IT office processes my HAND WRITTEN PAPER REQUEST FORM to gain access.

It keeps our teachers from accessing YouTube, which would otherwise allow them to show footage from documentaries and videos relating to politics, nature, science and anything else useful.

The children at our school (preK-8) only use the computers in our computer lab, where they are under constant surveillance, so why bother with the webfilter? They can be easily controlled and monitored by the teachers themselves, and so the filter only keeps people like me from being able to do their job at the office.

Because it's obviously one or the other. (1)

adonoman (624929) | about 4 years ago | (#31632652)

It is possible to educate kids about dangers without leaving access to that "danger" uncontrolled. Personally, I like to teach my kids to swim, AND lock the gate to the pool when it's unsupervised. It keeps really young kids out (who haven't yet learned to swim), and it's a discouragement to elementary-age kids to help them "remember" the rules, and the older kids know where the key is. I teach my kids not to talk to strangers, but that doesn't mean I'll leave my 4-year old alone in the mall (or playing on the internet).

Dear morons, not everything is censorship. (0, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#31632700)

Stop fucking calling it that.

There is a time and place for everything, and random browsing of whatever you want is not something that you do at school.

If you think keeping students focused on school work and not dicking off reading slashdot, digg, or screwing with facebook is censorship then you are, in fact, a freaking moron.

Stop calling everything censorship just because you don't get your way.

There was a time when saying something was censored meant something, now it just means some douche bag on the Internet could spout his mouth off or do whatever he/she wanted to someone else.

When you run into someones house and call them a cock sucking faggot and then you get your ass beat by him and his boyfriend, you didn't get censored, you get your ass beat for being a fucking moron, and thats exactly what this is.

Much can be learned from censorship leaders... (1)

dragisha (788) | about 4 years ago | (#31632782)

... Chinese! Or Chavez as his timezone is closer and he can adopt his schedule for some webex work.

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