>An article in our association newsletter titled “Blogging and MySpace” discussed teachers in the blogging world.
“In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that neither teachers nor students “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate…. School employees, however, do not have an absolute right to First Amendment protection.”
The writer went on to give examples of cases balancing the public’s right to know with workplace safety and privacy laws. Then it went on:
“Most importantly, teachers must understand that they are held to a higher moral standard than most other workers and should not engage in public speech which might jeopardize their status as role models. Teachers are held to a higher standard as role models. If you behave inappropriately away from school in a way that can affect your role model status at school, you may be subject to potential disciplinary review.”
This part got me thinking. I do not discuss my politics at school, but I do volunteer and contribute to campaigns. If current administration considered my political involvement inappropriate and a negative effect on my “role model status,” could that mean an end to my career? Could my letter to the editor in support of a candidate rub an administrator the wrong way?
When I’m most stressed about work, I might blog about it. I won’t share details, however, because it would violate an important part of my work: privacy and confidentiality. You’re more likely to read about my reaction to an event and my resulting stress level than the event itself.
We teachers know we’re role models, and we know our conduct is important. But could actions out of school really affect our jobs now, in the twenty-first century?
I’m not talking about criminal actions. To keep our children safe, certain people should not work in schools. I’m talking about human nature, balancing role model status with personal life.
We’re no longer in the days when a woman could not continue teaching while pregnant, when a teacher who dared to go to a bar would risk formal reprimand.
My blog is written under a pseudonym. Friends and family (including several coworkers) know who I am. Blogging intimate details about work, though? Constitutionally or otherwise, it would playing with fire.
>I’m pretty careful about protecting the privacy of my family. I never post anything w/checking first. And there are issues I don’t touch. I probably would on another kind of blog, though.
>A long time ago a group of popular actors was asked how they would manage if their (then current) political stand meant they would lose their careers. One of the men (I can’t find a reference so I’ll leave off names) said “Standing up for what I believe in has to cost something or it wasn’t worth standing up for in the first place.” I think that is a guiding premise, is this worth my job and livelihood?
>Crazy, isn’t it? I think you’re one of the safer bloggers I know and it floors me that these things even give YOU pause.
>Whereas I am very open about everything about me— those I am around are more private. I need to keep that in mind when composing my posts so that they are not identified or embarrassed.
>This is interesting as I just posted about my boys telling their teachers about my blog. As a parent who writes about issues related to school, I try to write thoughtfully when I do and try to write about past events when my boys attended a different school.
Bottom line is none of us are as anonymous as we might think we are (or wish to be) and we all need to be careful about what we say online regardless of what the Supreme Court thinks.
>There are many reasons I try to stay as anonymous as possible on my blog. Job protection is one of them. While I don’t think I hold any views that are truly harmful to my university’s interests, I wouldn’t want to find out they thought differently by being served a pink slip.