Chieftain Press

Access Denied

Kelly Ryan, Correspondent

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Nashoba students face the problem of excessive blocking of websites on the school’s internet server, including educational sites. This raises many questions.

So why are so many sites blocked? Who chooses which sites are blocked and which are not? Is there a set of laws each high school has to follow to protect students from dangerous and inappropriate sites?

The “site blocking” at Nashoba has been a problem for some time, not only for students, but for teachers as well. What are the reasons behind keeping sites like YouTube and Twitter unblocked, but censoring pages such as Pandora and Facebook?

It is understandable for websites with inappropriate content or websites used for cheating, such as SparkNotes and Schmoop, and online shopping sites. These should be blocked on a school’s server.

Nashoba is not alone with this issue. According to the American Association of School Librarians, “98 percent of schools filter the online content available to students” The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), a law passed by Congress in 2000, requires public schools that receive broadband access at a federally discounted rate (that’s almost all of them) to protect young people from online content that is obscene or otherwise ‘harmful to minors’” (Annie Murphy Paul slate.com). But what about sites like Diabetes.org? Why is that blocked?

The Education World website acknowledges the fact that high schools must follow required laws: “…how far beyond the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) schools should go in restricting student access to certain Web sites? Banning pornography sites is required by law. Banning Facebook is common. Should schools also block YouTube and Skype? What about National Geographic?” (Education World).

Schools take the time to block other sites for fear of cyberbullying (on social networks), illegal downloads, viruses and spamming.  Some schools are blocking sites that prove to be distractions for students who would rather spend their time gaming and listening to music, rather than studying; Nashoba has recently become one of those schools.

So what do our students have to say? Out of 50 kids who were surveyed, 12 students (24%) agree with the prohibition of access to certain sites and 38 students (76%) are against have sites blocked at school.

When asked how often a site is blocked that the student needs, on a scale of one to ten (one being never, ten being always), the average rating of Nashoba kids was a 7.2. Students find they are on the higher end of being denied access than not. This seems to be a real issue at our high school, one that needs to be reevaluated.

Hopefully, it can be resolved and students and teachers are able to receive access, instead of being denied.

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