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Another day, another online controversy!

But this time it looks like Missouri is trying to get out ahead of problems in the social media landscape before they crop up.

Turns out the state’s governor has just signed into law a bill that prohibits teachers from being friends with their students on Facebook. It’s worth noting Facebook is not the only target; teachers are forbidden from having any contact with their students in any social media forum that allows for private communication. Good idea or are they being paranoid?

Hopefully this doesn’t make me sound like an old fuddy-duddy (actually I think I did that myself by using the term “fuddy-duddy”) but I think this is a good thing. My own children don’t need to be friends with me (you know how I feel about that!) or with their teachers. I’m not saying they can’t be friendly with their teachers, that’s just good manners. But that can be done within the confines and construct of the school day. What could my kids’ science or math teachers possibly have to say on Facebook that can’t be written on the smart board or in their class agenda?

It’s unfortunate that things like this even need to be legislated at all, especially since the majority of teachers are professional and would never dream of veering off into activities that are illegal or immoral. But the teachers who do a fantastic job day in and day out are not the ones who make news. Instead the salacious activities of a few (Mary Kay Letourneau anyone?) are what capture headlines and frankly, scare the hell out of us parents.  But as much as it protects students, legislation like this also keeps teachers from being falsely accused of bad behavior. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Okay that’s my take, what do you think? Is it a good idea to have a firewall like this in place between students and their teachers? Do you think it’s necessary? Or are Missouri legislators making a big deal out of nothing?  Let’s debate it.