Who hasn't had a truly awful teacher? My worst teachers were often burnouts, the kind of people who probably started out bright eyed and bushy-tailed, but had gradually been reduced to sleepwalking through their 30-year-old lesson plans waiting for retirement.
Nowadays, American kids have a variety of sites available where they can rate their teachers and warn incoming students to stay away from the lemons.
Not so in France, where a court ruled Monday that rating teachers online was a breach of privacy and an "incitement to public disorder."
"We are totally satisfied by this ruling," said Francis Berguin, the head of the SNES teachers' union. "It is not up to pupils to mark their own teachers and certainly not on a commercial Web site," he told LCI news channel.
While some of the ratings are bound to be motivated by revenge for bad grades or perceived slights--who wouldn't welcome the chance to stick it to harsh graders?--the lawsuit wasn't concerned with accuracy. The union simply decided that minor inconvenience or possible embarrassment for teachers was unacceptable and required restrictions on student speech and commercial enterprise.
The unions may have won for now, but they're fighting a losing battle. "The ranking and evaluation of professionals on the Web is a fundamental principle and a primary motor of the Internet around the world," [Stephane Cola, who co-founded the site] told reporters after the verdict. He's right.