IRELAND, UK - RateMyTeachers.co.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 RateMyTeachers.co.uk on all school computers,
even during student free time. The move raises interesting
free speech and student/parent rights questions.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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