Missouri bans student-teacher Facebook relationships

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Education in Missouri has had a landmark week — first Republic, Missouri banned Slaughterhouse-Five and now, Missouri has become the first state to ban any social-networking relationship between teachers and students.

Missouri Senate Bill 54, signed this morning by state Governor Jay Nixon, prohibits any social-networking relationship between teachers and students. The bill extends not only to Facebook, but to any social network "that is exclusive and allows for private communication," although I've got to assume Facebook was the main target.

The bill isn't entirely restrictive — ABC News noted that "a teacher cannot be friends with a student on a private Facebook profile where you can pick and choose friends and send private messages, but teachers can set up a fan page."

On the surface, it seems like a good idea, and though I'm certain that the Missouri legislators see the law as protecting students from predacious and tech-savvy gym teachers, the bill does seem to send the message that the teachers the state have trusted to deal with your children aren't actually to be trusted to deal with your children, at least not electronically.

And the whole thing seems like an elaborate but largely symbolic gesture — it'll be difficult to police and enforce, since teachers and students involved in inappropriate relationships will no doubt be taking steps to conceal said relationships, beyond simply avoiding making status updates about it.