We wrote a couple of weeks ago about a Missouri law that would prohibit social media communications between teachers and students (see Is Missouri’s New Law Banning Teacher-Student Communications Via Social Media The Wave Of The Future?). According to the Associated Press, that law “suffered a double setback” last Friday. First, a judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law from taking effect until at least February 2012 because of concerns that “the restrictions ‘would have a chilling effect’ on free speech rights.”
Then, the Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, said he would ask the state legislature to repeal portions of the law because “the provisions about online communication are ‘causing substantial confusion and concern among teachers, students and families.’” The Governor also stated, “In a digital world, we must recognize that social media can be an important tool for teaching and learning.”
The legislature is apparently on board and the state senator who sponsored the law is already working with education groups on how to repeal the existing law and replace it with “a less-specific requirement for local school districts to develop policies about teacher-student communications.”
This is quite an “about face” in a short period of time. Perhaps lawmakers should have considered these issues before passing the law – thus avoiding the public backlash. Hindsight, however, is 20/20 as they say. In any event, I wonder whether a compromise bill with “less specific” requirements is a good thing or a bad thing? Strict rules aren’t always a good thing, but then again, non-specific rules aren’t necessarily good either. What kind of balance do you think lawmakers should strike when regulating social media use?