The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Rate My Teachers Blocked

Northern Ireland Blocks Access to Popular Website that has Students Grading and Critiquing Their Teachers

Michael Hussey (Press Release) • 25 April 2005

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - has quickly established itself in classrooms around the world as a useful resource for students, teachers, and parents alike. The site is an innovative idea, allowing students to share opinions and actually grade their teachers. Over two million teachers, students, and parents alike log in to the site every day, but not in Northern Ireland schools, where officials have blocked access to on all school computers, even during student free time. The move raises interesting free speech and student/parent rights questions.

RateMyTeachers currently boasts 8 million teacher ratings, over one million teachers graded, and it is currently in use at more than 48,000 schools across the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland. The site has been in operation since August 2001, quickly spreading via word of mouth.

School computers and teacher salaries are paid for by the parents of Northern Ireland students in the form of tax dollars. By telling students they are not allowed to comment publicly on the performances of these teachers, school officials are treading on a thin line of censorship where they have no ownership or right to restrict such speech.

The Student Press Law Center, an advocate for student free press rights in Arlington, Virginia voiced concern over schools that block access to the site. “Allowing administrators to block access to Web sites where students can voice an opinion could have far-reaching implications. Educators could start to justify prohibiting students from voicing any opinion online by preventing access to high school newspaper editorials or participation in online opinion polls.”

Joel Gordon, an English teacher at Amsterdam High School in Amsterdam, New York believes RateMyTeachers "enfranchises our kids, gives voice to their long-stifled expressions in a subject area in which they have loads of experience and are eminently qualified to speak. These statistics are timely, relevant and 99% honest."

With the assistance of over 4500 student administrators, RateMyTeachers reviews every teacher rating before it is posted to the website. Any libelous, malicious or vulgar comments are removed. If a teacher is at odds with any rating, that person can easily flag the rating and comment for a second review.

Students have a keen interest in rating their teachers, and the extreme growth of the site is a testimonial to that interest. Do students have as much right to use RateMyTeachers as other popular websites such as Yahoo or Google - or is RateMyTeachers being unfairly targeted?


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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

2 May 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Daily Ireland: It's Not Over til It's Over
Mick Hall

Education Cuts
Sean Smyth

Rate My Teachers Blocked
Michael Hussey

* Election Coverage *

Greens Endorse McCann
John Barry and Kelly Andrews, Greens

Young People Are Not the Problem
Tish Murray Campaign Press Release

Liam Kennedy and West Belfast
Anthony McIntyre

Coulter's Choice
Dr John Coulter

Send Mitchel to London
Brian Mór

Flashback: A Coversation with Lindsay Whitcroft
Anthony McIntyre

29 April 2005

I Believe
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Behaving Justly
Anthony McIntyre

Stop the Cover Up -- Give Us Peace
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Justice Needs Done
Damien Okado-Gough

More Than Politics to NI Process
David Adams

Jude the Obscure Republican
Anthony McIntyre

Shared Ultra Conservatism
Dr John Coulter

* More Election Coverage *

Europe and the General Election
John O'Farrell




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