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Thumbs down: Banning teachers from texting is not the best solution

Oct. 16, 2013 @ 06:47 AM

There is no question that teachers can get into trouble with texting. Kentucky officials this week were wrestling with the case of a Covington area band director who sent a 15-year-old student more than 300 text messages in nine days. A prosecutor has ruled that while the messages were inappropriate, the educator will not face criminal charges because there was no actual sexual solicitation. But it won't be easy for the teacher, who was suspended and later resigned, to get another job working with students.

That case is just one of many, including two teachers in Raleigh County, W.Va., who were fired over the summer for inappropriate texts to students. In response, school officials there have approved new guidelines for staffers that basically ban personal texts to students. Texts sent through a school-based system related to school or extracurricular activities would still be allowed.

The guidelines are no doubt well intentioned, but should the focus be the communication device or the behavior?

Teachers also can make inappropriate comments to students by social media, email, snail mail, telephones or just talking face to face.

Over time, some teachers may find that texting is a powerful tool to communicate with students, using a medium they embrace and pay attention to. It also may become an important method for students to reach out to teachers when they need help with classwork or when bad things happen in their life.

The question should not be whether teachers and students have a personal relationship, but whether it is an appropriate relationship. Fortunately, the vast majority of teachers know the difference.

In the end, it should be up to them to decide when it is appropriate to send or accept a text message.

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