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The Virginia Board of Education has changed its mind about passing policy recommendations that would have severely limited any sort of electronic communication between teachers and students.

The proposal before the Board earlier this year would have advised teachers to avoid text-messaging students and to avoid interacting with them on social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

No surprise, that was immensely unpopular. The Virginian-Pilot reports that over three-quarters of the comments received by the Board of Education were critical of the guidelines.

These guidelines were ostensibly aimed at preventing sexual misconduct in the Virginia public school system. While it's hard to argue against policies that called for more teacher accountability and better safety for students, it wasn't clear why there needed to be special rules in place governing electronic communication. Many teachers were concerned that such a policy statement coming from the state's education department would make the task of convincing leery schools to adopt Web 2.0 tools even more difficult.

According to spokesperson Charles Pyle, the new document will give local schools flexibility in developing their own policies and this version emphasizes appropriate behavior and does not call out (in)appropriate tools.

The Board of Education was scheduled to vote in January on these measures, but delayed doing so following the public outcry.

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Audrey Watters


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