Free Sammy

Use a blog, go to jail?
One of the Leoville Town Square regulars, BEACHTechie, aka Sam, is a high school student in Virginia Beach, VA. He recently got busted by the school administration for blogging, of all things. They seem to think blogging from school is a violation of their acceptable use policies. Perhaps it is. Sammy will be blogging from home from now on. But it seems to me that instead of discouraging blogging they should encourage each student to create one. After all, most writing classes encourage their students to keep journals, and that’s exactly what a blog is.

I’ve posted a message of support in Sam’s blog, http://www.sammydman.com. I hope the school reads it.

Ignorance breeds fear. This is why I consider it so important to educate everyone on the value of computers and the Internet. I hope his school’s administrators take the time to learn about blogging. I think they’ll see that it’s no threat.

32 Replies to “Free Sammy”

  1. Thank you sooo much for the support, Leo. Knowing that you care enough to devote an entire entry to this topic just shows that people really do care.

  2. But, if you have free time during class you should be able to blog or other activites. I am typing this in class write now, because I have some free time. People at this school, and I am sure at other schools can check there email, so why can’t they blog?

  3. this is not the first time I have heard about this. I have heard from a local University worker in the IT department that anybody that blogs or uses a email associated to a blog is not taken seriously in the real professional world.
    I like to disagree with this and I’m glad there are millions out there on my side.

  4. It’s a traditional response to a technology that cannot be understood by those in authority to ban it.
    Public schools will never give students web space or e-mail accounts because they are affraid that they might incur liablity if something bad should ever happen to the student because of something they send or post. That’s one thing, but how about giving kids access to the technology, and then teaching them what they should and shouldn’t do. Apparently their not into that “teaching” business when it comes to tech.

  5. I suspect that it isn’t blogging specifically that is prohibited. Most schools have rules prohibiting email and chat at public terminals and open computer labs and blogging sort of falls into that category. The reasoning behind this is that it ties up a limited resource (i.e. workstations) from being used to do things like web research or just working on reports. There are other locations such as Internet cafes, Kinkos, home, etc. to do other non-school related tasks.

  6. Hey Leo,
    I heard what happen and I am with everyone on here, including you. Its ashame that his has happened and I don’t think it is right. Back when I was in high school we weren’t even allowed to check our own email (and kept encouraging writing) which I can’t get. Mainly with high school, they seem that they didn’t wanted to encourage creativity. Could this be a show idea for TSS maybe? Go around local schools and see about can this happen around those schools and schools across the nation. Kind of I guess what you call a wake up call to parents to act for their child and stop school adminstrations from passing such laws. I am in college now, and as long we’re finshed with an assignment and teacher isn’t lecturing we’re free to surf the internet. Even blog. I mean its nothing like what I had to put up in high school. But I think it would be interesting to see parent’s reactions about their school policies and what could happen to their child. And Leo, I can’t agree more with your comment about “Ignorance breeds fear.” It is so true. I hope something can be done for students like Sam. And I hope everything works out for him. And if something does get on his record, I hope and am sure colleges will overlook this type of incident and realize that the harm he did not caused.

  7. It’s sad that many businesses and schools are like this. I can understand to some extent why they might not want students accessing and using them from school. for some very good examples, just take a look at some of the livejournal communities.
    I wish more schools and businesses would follow the example of our local high school who has taken a different stance on this. Next Monday, I’ll be there bright and early helping to install and configure their own blog system that uses the LJ server code. They want to encourage the students to use blogs, they just don’t want them using public ones like Livejournal, for reasons I cna totally understand.

  8. Leo,
    I think its a shame that people aren’t allowed to blog from school. As a high school student myself, here on the east coast, I can tell you that our administrators are very strict with their regulations. I understand that they’re trying to prevent us from accessing bad stuff (a good thing). But I also think that they need to look at it from our persepective as well, which is that we need to be able to share whats going on around us. I always feel better when I write in my ujournal. I know that if I just need to let something out that its easier to type it and read it(thats why most blogs/journals have a private post feature).
    The only thing that you need to be careful of is breaking the keyboard when you’re mad (and writing in the journal) (Wink, Wink).
    If you want to take a look, its http://www.ujournal.org/~bm_luke
    I’ve always enjoyed reading Sam’s blog, even though i don’t comment that often.
    I hope the situation gets resolved.
    -Lucas

  9. I go to Sam’s school (Landstown HS) here in Virginia Beach. I also run a blog, http://www.flockmeal.com/
    I’ve heard Sam talk about it on his blog and at school and it’s blatent censorship in my opinion. Seems that essentially they don’t like what he wrote about some people who work at the school, teachers and stuff. So what do they do? Ignore it and move on like normal people? Of course not, they look over most of the entries on his site and threaten to expel him based on a technicallity (that I think is questionable, because I think, like Leo and Sam, that blogging promotes English skills, if it’s encouraged by the school in one medium, paper, why not online?) that he broke the AUP because he wrote from school.
    This is crazy, they change the rules of the game because they can’t win. They attempt to censor him but threatening him!
    As I said above I run a weblog and started it because Sam was doing it on TechTV Techies, last year. These policies by my school worry me, Sam used to have a link to my site on his site but for the moment he’s taken it down, and I’m thankful for it. Why? Because the administration asked about the links in his blogroll on his blog and they would tie me into this some how if they knew about it.
    Thanks Leo for supporting Sam and the rest of us bloggers here in VB.

  10. I am a student at a school where Moveable Type, Blogger, ect are all blocked because some kids were posting inappropriate items to them. The school is not moving an inch from this policy. I think part of this might be that opposing opinions to the ones the school provides, also there is the chance that personal data would be posted. But this is not good for those who write and those who want to.
    -Joe Kavanagh

  11. This makes me so mad. When I was in middle and high school, I had to keep journals in English class, that’s exactly what a blog is. But hey, it’s not really out of character for public schools to prohibit creativity.
    Free Sam.

  12. I too, think this anti-blog is ridiculous. However, what if a student were to update his or her blog and the blog had comments that the school felt endangered the rest of the school community. The school obviously cannot monitor several sites at once… THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE. So give the schools a little love… they are probably doing this for our safety.
    I do think that blogging on the internet is something that schools should get into. But i think that personal blogs should be done at home. If you want SCHOOLS to encourage blogging… then there should be a blog site created with school purposes in mind. This blog creator can work much like HOMEWORK sites in which teachers can post homework assignments online. The blogs can be monitored by the school itself AND obscene content can be censored by the website itself since the blogger would be created with schools in mind.

  13. “I have heard from a local University worker in the IT department that anybody that blogs or uses a email associated to a blog is not taken seriously in the real professional world.
    I like to disagree with this and I’m glad there are millions out there on my side.
    Posted by Stephen DesRoches, September 25, 2002 09:05 AM”
    I disagree with that. I find it hard to believe that bloggers are looked down upong. Check out http://www.avary.com, the blog of the academy award winning filmmaker, Roger Avary (pulp fiction, if you dont know, lol). His site is very popular and he never mentions any bad vibes he gets for running a personal website. Maybe this is just the exception, but I don’t agree with what you said.

  14. Where I’m, they say it school work and that you have to use the internet for school work not anything else. The internet for the school came in 2000, so everything was new in the rules. In 2001 the rules was chagelle, when some students try to spread a virus to the network, they both was caught. But they did not have any pushment rule on their book, because they did not think a student would do that.
    They do keep an eye on the students on what they do.
    The school had fool prof, but the students figure out how to disable it.
    So the school, Frezze on the computers. They can change anything, but when the computer restart is back the way it is. So they can go on the internet, but they are wacth.
    I use to be an helper(Student Teacher assisant and Tech at a high school and at an Collage. Le Tourneau.

  15. Within two years the internet will resemble the barren wasteland of network television. Completely sanitized as to not offend anyone, no links from site to site, no google, no music without money and no reason to spend $40.00 a
    month.

  16. This is not unusual for southern schools. They want to control, no matter what good might come of it. As many that have come before me in this thread have said, this is foolish. You’d think that they would want their students to write more. Well, Sam, good luck with this one. I’d think you would want to make an example of your school district–think EFF or ACLU for some free help in this area.

  17. thats the last time i blog from school… as long as he wasnt supposed to be working and he had free time i see no harm in him blogging Support Sam!

  18. Wow… that is the weirdest thing I have heard in awhile… but I know it was tough for me in school trying to “do my thing” when most of it was all “against the rules” of the school…. some of which were in writing, but other “rules” were just rules I was supposed to know. For example, I never went to Pep rallies, when they rolled around I went onto the stage in the auditorium and worked on the set for the play we were doing, or I went to the library and read and studied. It became a “thorn” in some administrator’s side that some friends of mine and I didn’t attend the pep rallies. I was called into offices a lot and had to “explain myself” as far as my lack of “school spirit” or whatever it was.
    As it turned out, I was articulate about how my school spirit was displayed in the form of working on the shcool plays and in the Thespian Troupe and that it jsut didn’t ahve anything to do with sports. If the sports people came and did a Pep Rally for when we had a school play going on, I would go to it. We did 5 plays a year, and I worked on all the sets and did lighting and all that. But we never had any Pep Rallies for anything in the theater department.
    So, it was one big harrangue over the fact that the school wanted 100% participation for Pep Rallies and I wasn’t complying with their rules. Unwritten or written, it didn’t matter. But I felt like my point was valid and jsut stuck by it. Educating people to what your views are, especially to people with opposing views to yours, is a very valuable skill to learn.
    So while Sam has an uphill battle trying to inform his school about what a “b-log” (sic) is, he will likely remember his encounter with the administrators far longer than what he wrote in his blog that day.
    Keep up the fight, Sam, just learn to be respectful of other people and their rules and try to inform them and enlighten them while behaving in a cordial and respectful way. Even if they are idiots! (Because you will find that there are more idiots out there in the real world! Learn how to cope now, when you’re young and have a lot of energy! It can be fun, and remember, they are just people, too…. nothing better than you, just the same. I’d like to read one of their blogs! ha ha ha) Good Luck, Sam!

  19. What did Sam say that angered them? I can’t load his blog right now, so I cannot read for myself. Would someone post the comments that they are upset about?
    And Sam, have you emailed Jon Katz? 😉

  20. That’s the most rediculus thing I ever heard!!! I post on Leoville all the time from school and our school district doesn’t (seem to) care. Leo you should really tell Pat or Megan to bring this up on tonight’s TSS.

  21. They are just angered that I blogged from school and some comments I made about the school and some teachers, which is complete free speech. The comments about the teachers and all I made AT HOME…so they have no reason to get mad at me. It wasn’t like I was saying “I’m going to kill that teacher….” or anything like that.
    And the MAIN ISSUE as of right now is that they made be write this affidavit with NO LEGAL REPRESENTATION. I am under 18 and this should be offered to me without me asking. They should’ve contacted my parents BEFORE they gave that to me, and he knew I was going to write it because I was so scared of him. That is why so many of us are mad.

  22. I think that if something like this was to be allowed it should be integrated with a class. More specifically, English. Many of us had writing assignments like this when we were in High School. Have a blog that when the kids are in school, they can actually use it (and some learn how to) for it’s full benefit.
    I even get tired of seeing blog after blog of all quiz results, and even some people who have four blogs, of nothing but quiz results. (This is why I have one blog for quiz results and a separate one where I actually write something.) Using a blog in school could not only help students work on writing in general, but also help a lot to learn how to express themselves through writing. Having students write about a book assignment, how the book or even any assignment makes an impact, their feelings and thoughts on a book or assignment. But also it would be a platform to give the school some feedback from the students. I normally consider blogging a leisure activity, but then again it’s been years since I graduated from High School and when I was in it, there was no web access. So I do agree somewhat with the point that anything not related to a school subject can be done outside of the school. But there are projects that could be integrated into assignments where blogging could be useful.
    If the Internet is a concern, some schools can set up servers that are not connected to the Internet, network them, and run a blogging server on it. That way they can teach the students skills in writing, also encourage them to express themselves in a creative and more modern age. If they want to monitor a blog, they can do so using that method. That way if students want to blog on the web specifically and the school has a problem with that, they can do so out of school. Again that I do agree on, but only in cases where there is work/class assignments to be done, that is not getting completed. While having the opportunity to do so in school, only in a different manner where it would be part of a learning experience. There is plenty of downtime in classes, using a blogging system would be a good way to utilize those times.
    There are many opportunities and advantages that blogging offers. The only difference is that instead of it being in a notebook or paper journal, it’s on a computer. I seriously doubt that there would have been this much of a problem if it was in a paper journal. I can understand being cautious because of school violence, but this is ridiculous. The schools should look at things more objectively and based upon which student they are dealing with and not a stereotype that all students are bad news, and will turn into homocidal maniacs at one point or another, and the sign is when they talk about school negatively. Even once. That is unfair to all students who are good people, to label them and put all students in the category of the two students from Columnbine.
    Nor should they have asked for other students blogs. That is not Sam’s responsibility to give out that information. I would be irate if my High School had done that to me, even more so if they had demanded that I tell about other people’s or friends blogs. (I commend him on dealing with the school, I would not have done it. Even if they threatened me with expulsion.) I did a much worse thing than blog entry in my High School computer class to the extent that I got kicked out of the class, but not from the school. It’s completely wrong that they are going to expel him, or even thinking about the option over a blog entry. FOrgive me, but my attitude is ‘you can’t be serious’ about possible expulsion.
    There are much worse things that could have been done, other than just writing a blog entry about a students day. Not all students are out to cause trouble, or defy the rules with something so minor as a blog entry that would warrant all of this trouble and possible expulsion. It’s too bad that school teachers and administrators can’t see (or just chose to ignore) the difference between harmless activity and harmful behavior. More so, it’s too bad that they don’t listen to the students before passing judgment on them.
    As for the affidavit, if you’re not 18 and being threatened with expulsion while having had no representation. Essentially being coereced into writing it. That is grouds right there to challenge it in court, so the affidavit you wrote and signed would be nullified.
    I’m with you Sam. Wish you the best of luck.

  23. I told them on that damn affidavit that no other kid had a blog that was in my school, which is a complete lie. I know *very little* legal stuff, but I know that they can’t ask me that question. The affidavit is what I’m really fighting for, I mean, being told that blogging is illegal is one thing. But to make me write this affidavit is WRONG. He said that in a situation like this he had the power from an intervention to expulsion. Now if I had been given any sort of punishment for this I would be A LOT more angry. But nonetheless, I am angry now, how dare he toy with my constitutional rights like that. I’ve been in contact with the ACLU and they said that the school district could be fined hella money and the chances of me getting damages awarded is high. yay for me 🙂
    I am usually the person that stands up at first and then sits down because I don’t want the spotlight on me, but I feel that I need to do this so it doesn’t happen to other people. Get where I’m going here?

  24. My school’s internet connection is down 2/3 of the year. Besides, we never have time on the computers, even though there are 3 labs. In fact, 3/4 of the time when the net is up, the labs are empty. Why waste $90,000?

  25. I’m 10, I just went to middle school there not that in to computers as they were in elementry but that’s not the point. The point is, last year, my teacher let me check my e-mail once in her room, and once in the computer lab because I didn’t have time to do the other stuff because my mom would be there shortly. But I could, they let us make websites there. I never tried blogging but I’m sure I could. That is just REDICULIS

  26. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I can’t blog at my school either, because they have blocked out the livejournal site. I think that the school administrators should sit up and take notice that blogging isn’t a bad thing.

  27. that is so wrong!!!!!!!!!! bloging is like an online journal so i think schools
    should ecourage blogging
    here’d the one thing most schol staff is not as internet savy as the students are so that might be why he got busted? but i dont know.

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