Russ Gibb at Random

Hello Russ,

February 15, 2007

I just wanted to take a moment to clear up a few things regarding blocked websites.

As you may know, the Child Internet Protection Act, a federal law, requires the school district to have filtering software in place. This software is mainly used to block out pornography but there are other sites such as chat rooms and gaming sites that can also be harmful to children and/or do not pertain to classroom instruction.

Last week our Media Services Department was performing routine maintenance on our filtering software. During this maintenance period your site (Russ Gibb At Random), along with many other sites, were blocked from district computers for about two hours. I know that your site is no longer blocked because I was able to read about this concern on my district computer.

The other point that I would like to comment on is the issue concerning the district acting as some type of “Big Brother� censor. This is certainly not the case in our district. As I mentioned, the filtering software is used to block out pornography and other internet sites that are not relevant to instruction. However, if a site is blocked, teachers can contact Media Services and request that the site be unblocked. They must explain the reason why students need access and its relevance to the classroom lesson.

Students and staff are using all types of technology, including the internet, everyday in our district as a tool for learning. In fact, our district is truly a leader in using web-based technology as a teaching tool. We have many teachers using i-learn, i-blog and i-seek.

iBlog allows teachers to create their own classroom blog using nothing more than a web browser, such as Explorer or Firefox. From posting homework to pod-casting this easy and effective teaching tool allows teachers to interact with students and parents over the internet.

iLearn gives teachers unprecedented options for breaking down the barriers of a brick-and-mortar classroom and creating a digital classroom. Students can discuss topics brought up in class and even critique each-other’s projects in a safe and secure on-line learning environment.

Teachers share online resources and links to educational websites but, until now, there was not an easy way to share these links through out the district. iSeek is a program designed to be a warehouse of searchable links for educators and parents. iSeek is a custom made “Google� for education, designed and created by our district staff.

From publishing to the internet, sharing resources, or creating a digital classroom, teachers in the Dearborn Public Schools have a comprehensive set of teaching tools that give them the ability to reach out to students in a medium they understand and use: the computer.

Take care,

David Mustonen
Communications Coordinator
Dearborn Public Schools

David Mustonen; 12:

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7 Comment(s)

I'm willing to wager that the first three paragraphs were written and the rest was copy and pasted. If David Mustonen ACTUALLY TYPED the rest of that corporate promotion for Macintosh I'd really be worried.

Even if they aren't blocking you Russ, I do think the DPS has a strong interest in keeping students from seeing your website. It's always been in the District's best interest to make sure students feel they're getting the best education they can possibly get. If students find out they are not getting the best education then obviously they'll get depressed and not feel as happy-go-lucky. I doubt Dr. Artis could handle it if he had to face all those frowning kids who found out that some good management decisions could have made their lives better.

Lastly, I find it interesting that the District is not only responding to your posts, they're also responding to the other comments on this website. Obviously the district is in dire straights if it thinks a little comment on your blog is enough to break the dam of public opinion.

--by Steve Jobbs' Alias: Dave Mustonen on 2/15/07   Lives: Dearborn  

This comment by David or Chris K or whoever is I-bull. The district routinely censors websites on many rationals. Are they saying that Russgibbatrandom is not blocked because it pertains to public instruction or perhaps it is not blocked now because of the public outcry over such practices? E commerce sites, auction sites and other popular sites are blocked by the district for no valid reason as they do not contain pornography. While blocking inappropriate sites for children may have been the original impetus for this, in typically DPS fashion it has been expanded to censorship of all student AND staff computers. Rather than girls gone wild, in this case it is Media Services Gone Wild. I-nuff!

--by Big Brother on 2/15/07   Lives: Dearborn  

To BIG flash, the computers are to be used as tools in the workplace! Teachers, secretaries and all staff at DPS are there to work, so if the district decides to block Ebay and other such sites, it justifiable! I work in the district and see no reason why I should have access to any site that is not work related. While I find this site a very interestng read, I do it on my personal time, not on the district's time. Bottom line, the computers at work are to be used for just that...the district is not trying to hide or cover up anything, it is just trying to do what we pay it to do...teach our children!

--by Jo-jo on 2/15/07   Lives: Dearborn  


I found Mr. Mustonen's clarification timely and helpful. Maybe I am not as cynical as some others, but I think the fact that someone in the School system is paying attention to public comment is a good thing. Would that there were sensible explanations for some other school administration actions (or inactions).

--by Fordson '72 Grad on 2/16/07   Lives: Dearborn  

I totally agree with Jo-Jo. Perhaps, the DPS believes, like many other workplaces, that, those on the payroll are there to work. It is not a comspiracy, it is just a common-sense work rule. I know many companies monitor what their employee's do on work computers. It is not Big Brother. It is the employer expecting the employee to actually work for their paycheck.

--by Claudia on 2/16/07   Lives: Dearborn  

Explain why ESPN and all sites sports have NEVER been blocked and then please explain how those are educationally sound (to someone other than male teachers who cant live without updated scores and highlights)?

--by SARCASTIC on 2/22/07   Lives: Detroit area  

Sarcastic makes a good point. Perhaps as Mr.Mustonen said sites that are not relevant to instruction are being blocked. Perhaps the DPS is teaching betting or the mathematical aspects of the point spread. Soon we may see one of our fourth graders on ESPN laying odds on the latest NBA game!

BTW I will give anyone out there 5-1 odds that they will NOT name Ten Eyck (or ASCC) after John Burl Artis when he leaves the district.

--by CoreValues on 2/22/07   Lives: Dearborn  

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