Should students and teachers ever be friends on Facebook? School districts across the country, including the nation's largest, are weighing that question as they seek to balance the risks of inappropriate contact with the academic benefits of social networking.
At least 40 school districts nationwide have approved social-media policies. Schools in New York City and Florida have disciplined teachers for Facebook activity, and Missouri legislators recently acquiesced to teachers' objections to a strict statewide policy.
In the New York cases, one teacher friended several female students and wrote comments including "this is sexy" under their photos, investigators said. A substitute teacher sent a message to a student saying that her boyfriend did not "deserve a beautiful girl like you."
Such behavior clearly oversteps boundaries, but some teachers say social media - in particular Facebook - can be a vital educational resource if used appropriately, especially because it's a primary means of communication for today's youngsters.