Youtube Ban A Hassle or No Hassle?


Many sites are banned on school computers, a fact that is inconvenient to students that are trying to access their favorite websites – and as it turns out, to teachers that are simply trying to teach an educational lesson. One site in particular is currently part of a heated debate – the popular, video sharing website, Youtube. In fact, the Fremont school district is currently considering allowing teachers to access the website to show educational videos in class. The downside? Such a change could risk losing the funding of E-Rate, a government grant that provides discounts for telecommunication and Internet access for many schools and libraries.

Still, there are its benefits. For many years, teachers have been complaining of the ban, stating that it censors not only the students, but the teachers as well.

“Who decides what we can teach in the classroom? The fight is more about that than just YouTube,” Mission San Jose teacher Jaime Richards said, speaking out against the ban. He believed that the ban undermined teachers’ right to teach what they want in the classroom. “The district is deciding what’s good for us,” He added.

Irvington teacher Alberto Ballado also agrees that the ban on Youtube is an issue. He said that videos would be a helpful way to teach his students the cultures of the Latin American countries they study and also expose them to the accents of the people who live there, a much better alternative to the current textbook pages.

Many district board members agree with the teachers. However, they’ve decided to hold off on a decision until they can figure out whether this change could affect their eligibility for governmental funding. Each year, the Fremont school district receives around $500,000 from the government to help pay for Internet and other telecommunication services. Allowing Youtube on school computers may potentially jeopardize the school’s ability to receive these funding.

Another problem that has arisen is that the current networking system used by the district doesn’t allow passwords to be set on sites. In other words, there is currently no way to allow Youtube only for teachers. If the site was unblocked, it would have to be unblocked for everyone – teachers and students alike.

The chief technology officer for Fremont Unified School District, David Hotchkiss, said it had always the district’s intention to allow teachers to use Youtube, but that the technology to set passwords on websites is taking longer than expected. He also said that teachers can request to unblock sites for their classroom and that these exceptions are often granted.

“It’s not the intention of the technology department nor the administration to stifle academic freedom,” Hotchkiss said. “The only intention is to ensure that we can protect our children and continue to receive the benefits of the E-Rate funding.”

It is yet to be seen, however, whether the district will act on the idea and what it holds for our school and for both students and teachers.