By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Buzz received a press release from www.ratemyteachers.com, a Web site that allows students nationwide to rate their teachers. Plano ISD has blocked student access to the site from campus computers, the release complained. Ah-ha! Buzz thought, what sort of damning information is Plano trying to keep from the righteous public? "School officials are treading on a thin line of censorship where they have no ownership and right to restrict such speech," ratemyteachers.com said. Censorship?! Buzz drooled. Then we called Hirsch. We stopped drooling.
"All of our network resources are here to serve a purpose, and that purpose is education," Hirsch explained. The district purchases a list of Web sites it uses to filter out those that don't serve the school's curricula, and PISD adds and subtracts from the list as it sees fit. No surfing for porn or video games at Plano ISD, sadly. And what educational purpose does an anonymous popularity contest for teachers serve? None Hirsch could think of, so he added it to the list. Buzz couldn't think of one either, especially in a district in which students are assigned teachers and can't shop around for them. Buzz could, however, envision some A-type, micromanaging parents--this is Plano, after all--using the list to berate the district any time one of their little rugrats received a bad grade: "My little Johnny's not stupid; he just has a bad teacher! It says so right here."
So, sorry, ratemyteacher.com, Buzz isn't on your side. Besides, the site is so edited and innocuous that it excludes the sort of valuable information that Buzz wanted when he was in high school, i.e., which teachers are smoking hot. Now that would be a Web site, especially if it had pictures.