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Thursday
Sep292016

Banned websites day and thank you to NCTE

My friend Sara Kelly Johns reminded me yesterday:

So while yesterday was Banned Websites Awareness Day (that I like to think I had some influence in creating), my blog entry this year is a day late.

I've written for many years about how we need to pay more attention to intellectual freedom issues around the Internet. Banned books seem to somehow benefit from the label. Banned websites too often go simply inaccessible to kids. Access to both information and ideas and the ability to create and communicate information and ideas are important equity issues.

This year I was very pleased that NCTE reposted some writing of mine about how blocking social networking sites is a form of censorship and works as a means to disenfranchise the already disenfranchised. Please read:

Marginalizing the Marginalized with Internet Filtering, Literacy & NCTE blog, September 28, 2016.

While Internet filtering still does not get the scrutiny it deserves in too many schools (and we we give book censorship a whole week but webblocking only a day instead of a Blocked Bytes Week I am happy knowing organizations and individuals are fighting the good fight.

Just for the record, here's a list of other pieces I've written about Internet filtering:

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Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for this, Doug. I am going in circles with our district to open Pixabay. They've classified it as "adult art", even after I've sent comparisons of images I found on Google from student computers that are far more "adult" than anything on Pixabay! I will read through all the articles you've included here to bolster my case.

September 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMary Clark

HI Mary,

From my book The Indispensable Librarian:

There are few situations more frustrating for a librarian than learning of an Internet resource or tool that would be of value to students but finding it blocked by the district. Here are some strategies for dealing with this problem:

Know and be able to articulate the educational value of the blocked site.
Be able to share examples of how librarians and teachers in other districts are using the resource.
Ask to have the resource provided on a limited basis – for a certain period of time or on specific computers. Report at the end of the test period if any problems were encountered and what uses students made of the resource.
Speak as a member of a group that wants the resource unblocked.
Know exactly who makes the filtering decisions in your district and if there is a formal process for getting a site unblocked.
Know local, state, and federal laws pertaining to filtering and student Internet access to avoid “hyper-compliance” by your district.
Communicate in writing your requests and responses when seeking to get a site unblocked. Always copy the supervisor of the decision-maker on all communications.
Seek to establish a formal review process for unblocking Internet resources or seek to have the reconsider policy in your district revised to cover online resources.
File a challenge on the resource to start the due-diligence process on school materials. (Yes, you can do this as a staff member.)
Don’t give up after the first denied request. Come back with other uses, examples, and partners. Sometime the squeaky wheel gets some grease.
Good luck!

Doug

September 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Ah, thanks, Doug! A great reminder that I could have referenced your book, which I can reach if I roll my chair back 2 feet:) I will get started today implementing a few of these strategies.

Mary

September 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMary Clark

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