Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Fox News rewrites reality; Turner agrees with Jane Cunningham on Facebook law

I was shocked to discover a few moments ago that I supported Sen. Jane Cunningham on her bill that prohibits contact between teachers and students through Facebook and other social networking sites.

It was the first time in dozens of interviews over the years that a reporter has misquoted me or taken what I said out of context. I suppose I should not be surprised that the reporter was from Fox News.

This is the portion of the story that included me:

Districts will have several additional months to implement the social-networking aspect of the new law. "Frankly, a teacher that has nothing to hide will be real pleased by this, because it's going to show their good work," Cunningham said.

"A good teacher is going to like this," Randy Turner, a communication arts teacher at East Middle School in Joplin, Mo., told FoxNews.com. Turner said he's fearful districts will ban usage of social-networking sites altogether to eradicate any potential gray areas.

"I understand people have concerns about who their children are having as friends on Facebook, but I know many teachers who have used Facebook, and all of them have been professional," Turner said.

"We're not getting on there to be pals. It's a professional service."

Turner said he's also worried that the new law removes an important "avenue" for contact between teachers and students -- both during times of emergency and during the everyday grind of homework. "A student having difficulty with a classroom assignment probably won't want to advertise on Facebook that he or she is having a problem with it," he said.

Under the new law, Turner said teachers wouldn't be able to respond directly to seemingly innocuous questions like whether school will be in session tomorrow or to directly disseminate information during times of emergency. Turner said he used Facebook extensively in May following the tornado that killed at least 116 people in Joplin.

The story makes it sound as if I agree with Jane Cunningham when she says her bill when she said a teacher with nothing to hide does not have to worry about this law. In fact, the reporter never even mentioned the Cunningham quote. I told him, as I have told others who have asked that the only teachers who will be punished by this law are the ones who would never think of crossing the line with a student.

I also never used the term "professional service." I said that I always act in a professional manner when I am communicating with students through Facebook. I never made it sound like I was trying to provide some kind of service to my students.

The reference to innocuous questions about the weather is also a misquote. I told the reporter that students would not have a problem posting that kind of message on a wall, but might not be willing to reveal that he or she is having problems in a class.

I have just looked at the latest version of the story on Fox and the part that made it appear that I agreed with Jane Cunningham has been removed. I do appreciate that. The new version is much better.


Anonymous said...

It is frustrating to be misrepresented, right? Looks to me like they grabbed quotes you have actually made. You are vocal; you've been heard.

Randy said...

I am more disappointed than anything. This was not a hatchet job; it was just poor reporting. I have been interviewed over the years by liberals, conservatives, and people playing it right down the middle. Mistakes have been made, but were almost always of a minor nature, nothing like this.

Anonymous said...

Really? Well again, the law limits private communication. Open facebook pages are permissible and there is no need for private communication apart from what either someone else in the school district or a parent or guardian should be aware of.
You look on Fox News like you support this appropriately. Personally, I think that is great for you, Teacher.

Anonymous said...

There is no justification for a teacher having current students as "friends" on Facebook. None.

If a teacher wants to use Facebook or some other social media site, create a fan page that is open to all....then it's still perfectly legal.

Now, what's the problem with that solution, Randy?

Randy said...

It is what I will end up dolng, but it is a weak substitute, and I have written extensively about the problems with it. There are many educational problems (and other problems that affect teens) that they are not going to be willing to share on a public fan page site.

I have yet to hear one argument that this law will actually be able to protect even one student. The teachers who are using Facebook effectively, for educational purposes, will have to change the way they do things to a more diluted version, while the teachers who this act supposedly targets are not going to be deterred at all, especially since I have not heard of any who have targeted children through Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you haven't heard of a teacher courting a student-target on facebook, Randy, does that mean it hasn't happened, OR does it mean merely that you are not included in the discussions behind "why" this issue was written into the law?
I think it is the latter, myself.

Randy said...

Please do a little bit of research. The Facebook portion of this bill has not been addressed in the public hearings nor has any teacher ever been called to testify for or against the use of social networking sites by students. The provision was ignored by the media, because each year Amy Hestir has been brought before Jane Cunningham's committee to testify about the horrific things that happened to her. There has been no testimony about Facebook or any other site. Check the articles that have been written about it. You will find none before the Joplin tornado. I had one AP reporter call me and interview me about it before the bill was passed. The story never ran. AP never called again until the bill was signed.

And I might add, the Speaker of the House Steve Tilley is on a YouTube video telling another Joplin blogger that he did not even know the bill passed.

Anonymous said...

" The story makes it sound as if I agree with Jane Cunningham when she says her bill when she said a teacher with nothing to hide does not have to worry about this law. "

Please fix your grammar before trying to appear as a credible educational authority.

Anonymous said...

The hearings are open to the public. Did your local representative or senator not invite you to participate? A teacher with tenure like yours would surely have enough time to go to Jefferson City to speak on behalf of a cause so important to you.
I wonder why your local senator or representative would not have kept you in on such public hearings?

Anonymous said...

Ruskin High Math Teacher Lewis McKenzie said he's on board. McKenzie doesn't want his personal life to become a distraction in the classroom. He said he's glad the law better defines what is and isn't acceptable and thinks the law is a year or two overdue.

Anonymous said...



Andrew Hoffman said...

@ anonymous at 5:49

I'm sure an educator struggling to help rebuild the school district and prepare for the upcoming school year would have more than enough time and resources to make the short drive from Joplin to Jeff City a few times a week to participate in these sessions.

As I'm sure you can tell the majority of that was sarcasm directed at not only you, but also everyone else that chooses to offer criticism from behind the name "Anonymous." But I guess we have Al Gore to thank for that. (That's a reference I'm sure you didn't get.)

Turner the Professional said...

Don't you know that Randy Turner NEVER abused his position as a reporter or editor back when he was playing newsman to misquote or make his perceived enemies look stupid or crooked?

Turner routinely abused his power as a reporter and editor back in the day. Which is why Turner was run out of that profession like Turner needs to be run out of the teaching profession. I sure hope that the school board is reading Turner's blog.

Professional teachers like the one mentioned want to have policies to protect not only the students, but themselves. This is a good, necessary law that only predators could find fault with.

Randy said...

I actually appreciate these wild over-the-top attacks because they certainly do make me seem much more reasonable than those who disagree with me. I have a feeling that those of you who are leaping on my writings on the Facebook law would be criticizing me if I were praising motherhood and apple pie, just because I was the one who was doing it.

Anonymous said...

Randy writes, "There are many educational problems (and other problems that affect teens) that they are not going to be willing to share on a public fan page site." TRUE.

But...teachers should not be communicating with students in an exclusive, one to one setting about these "problems that affect teens". It is absolutely correct to assert that MOST teachers would use such communication to help the student. A FEW teachers would take advantage.....and yes there are other laws that pertain ONLY to teachers. Teachers can't date an 18 yr. old student.....if a mechanic or an attorney wants to date an 18 yr old, still in high school they can. It's not advisable, but they could do it. There are plenty of other examples of how teachers ARE treated differently under the law....some laws to protect teachers, some laws to protect students.

Some folks on here are totally unreasonable in their attacks on Randy. Randy is also being unreasonable trying to hold onto his ability to secretly communicate with students through Facebook. Both are wrong.

Taunia Adams said...

Anything that has the capability of having a non-public (private) communication is now off limits. That is nearly every form of communication on the internet. The private feature doesn't have to be used, just available, and it's a violation. It's ridiculous.

Taunia Adams said...

Converniently, this Tea Party sponsored bill labels every public school teacher, using the internet, a sexual predator.

Anonymous said...

I fail to see how this law labels teachers using the internet as predators. I also fail to see how this law is unreasonable. Lots of individual school districts have already required social media to be used by teachers and coaches in a public manner. You can easily set up groups to include administrators, parents and students.

This was not poor reporting; it just seemed as though you and CNN were not totally aware of the details of the law. This occurs often when reporters don't delve into the details.

Most of America supports the idea of teachers being accountable. I am a teacher and my school district already has addressed the potential hazards of private and inappropriate uses of social media. This should not offend any well intending teacher.