New school web filters are too restrictive

By Emma Sorkin

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When you search “web filters in schools” online, one of the first things that comes up is a link to the National Conference of State Legislators which states that schools have implemented Internet monitoring policies to “prevent minors from gaining access to sexually explicit, obscene or harmful materials.”

Photo by Emma Sorkin

Photo by Emma Sorkin

As we are all painfully aware, MCPS has adopted this philosophy in a valiant effort to block students’ horrific tendencies to watch graphic videos and haphazardly add numerous items of clothing into their online carts.

While the restrictions are made to keep students on task and only on “school appropriate websites” during class, the web filters have gone too far.

As I was working on an English project at home, I came across an informative video that I figured would’ve been perfect to share with the class. However, when I went to view the video in school, the cold-blooded filters clearly had other plans. I was bombarded by a giant red stop sign glaring down at me from its spot of authority on the Promethean board, humiliating me and leaving me virtually helpless. I was unable to finish my presentation all because a filter that was supposedly designed to keep students on task literally blocked me from completing mine.

We’ve all had those classes that just beg us to scroll through Buzzfeed and find out who we will marry based on our salad preferences, but classrooms are not the place for those quizzes. That being said, disciplinary actions for distracted students should be left up to each teacher. In blocking many websites for the “common good,” MCPS has unintentionally blocked helpful educational resources, hindering students’ attempts and desire to learn.

Perhaps the most trivial part of this whole blockade is the reality that students can easily bypass the filters. From using their phones on a non-MCPS regulated phone or email account to downloading the VPN apps to bypass the WiFi, if students are going to be off-task or distracting during class, a web restriction is not going to stop them.

While some restrictions are necessary, they’ve currently gone too far. If MCPS really wants to protect its students, they should give us some credit.

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