The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation revising a contentious new state law that limits teacher communications with students over the Internet.
The bill given initial approval Monday would repeal a law barring teachers from using websites that give "exclusive access" to students. The provision already had been temporarily blocked by a judge last month because of free-speech concerns.
The Missouri State Senator who sponsored the measure strictly limiting teacher-student contact via Facebook and other social media has filed legislation she says will clear up any confusion over the new law.
The issue was added Tuesday to the call of the special session by Governor Jay Nixon (D), but in his call the governor only stipulated that the language in question be removed, not replaced with new language.
Updated 4:19 p.m. with comment from the Missouri State Teachers Association and Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham, the sponsor of the original bill which became law
From Todd Fuller of the Missouri State Teachers Association:
“It’s a sigh of relief for all teachers throughout the state who use social media, and it allows them to continue to use it in the positive way that they’re already using it and continue to interact with their students the way they have been.”
From Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, who sponsored the bill. She acknowledges that there’s been confusion over what the restrictions will and won’t do, and says she has a solution:
“We have come up with some language that we feel like is ready to go…we don’t need to punt for more input, (I’m) not opposed to it, but we’ve got some agreed upon language with the stakeholders and we’re ready to clarify that language.”
Updated 1:11 p.m. with Gov. Nixon's action
Gov. Jay Nixon says he will add the teacher Internet issue to the agenda for a special legislative session that begins Sept. 6. Nixon says he wants lawmakers to repeal the new law.
His Friday announcement came shortly after a Missouri judge issued a preliminary injunction (see below) blocking the law from taking effect as scheduled on Sunday.
Updated 11:32 a.m. with link to full ruling
A Missouri judge has blocked a law restricting Internet communications between teachers and students from taking effect Sunday.
A group of educators led by the Missouri National Education Association says its confident it can strike a deal with lawmakers to settle confusion over a new state law governing how students and teachers interact using social media like Facebook.
A law signed into law last month in Missouri is making waves nationally, this week. A small part of the wide-ranging SB54, makes it illegal for teachers to be "friends" with students on any social networking site that allows private communication.
That means teachers and students can't be friends on Facebook or can't follow each other on Twitter for example.