Blogging for Columbine

Concerns over student expression are nothing new in American culture and education. Think sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. But even if every generation believes its own challenges to be unique in history—and the latest youthful improprieties the worst—our dizzying telecommunications revolution does pose unprecedented challenges for educators. Like other aspects of society, school law and policies are having trouble keeping pace with changes.

The “dark side” of student online expression, including some aspects of social networking sites like MySpace, confronts school officials with issues that place schools on uncertain legal ground and at the crux of conflicting societal demands. Concerns over what students do online have attracted intense interest from advocacy groups, elected officials, and the new media. But schools have serious legal limitations when it comes to freedom of expression and off-campus conduct.

Here are the major areas of concern, roughly arranged according to how much discretion a school has to intervene.

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