Spotify: Is Listening Everything?

FCPS Blocks Popular Web Player on School Device

Blocked websites and filtered searches come as no surprise to the majority of staff and students. Since 1998, the FCPS school board has taken an active approach in protecting their students from harmful online content, which was especially critical considering the rise of technology use in the classroom.
This protection took the form of Policy 6401 under Fairfax County’s Legal Network and Internet Resources, which states its purpose as “to establish guidelines for access and use of FCPS network and internet resources.”
In recent years, however, the administration has moved to also filter websites that are not strictly school-related.
The blocking of Youtube and Cool Math Games last year, for example, was met with much resentment from many. Although filtering explicit websites and social media seems reasonable, this raises the question of what rights a student has for Internet use with school property.
Policy 6401 does not protect FCPS’s right to prohibit domains that offer games or entertainment. According to an article by Bonnie Brae Elementary on the Fairfax County Public Schools website, FCPS is not required to explicitly prohibit “websites that offer games or videos,” nor do they have the legal authority to actively monitor students activity on approved websites.
Policy 6401 was set in place to protect children from explicit and potentially dangerous content—not content that is accused of disrupting classroom instruction.
That being said, students are nevertheless subject to the conditions specified in the Acceptance of Responsibility and Home Use Agreement. Lake Braddock’s Computer/Device Check Out program Term #5 reads, “Uses unrelated to the FCPS educational program (including but not limited to downloading of personal games or music and installing additional applications) are prohibited.”
Although this makes sense on paper, deeming program uses as “unrelated” becomes highly subjective.
For instance, blocking YouTube might prevent some distractions during instruction, but it creates a barrier for students and teachers who use the Internet for online videos related to their course.
Should Spotify be considered a use “unrelated” to the FCPS program?
“Spotify is my most-used app,” junior Alexi Wirpel said. “Taking away access might make it more difficult for students to get their work done because music is a really big motivator.”
“When we have down time, some of us like listening to music and it also helps a lot of us to focus.” said sophomore Eliana Gutierrez.
On the other hand, Mr. Laguna, a high school mathematics teacher, presents a different perspective. “If it’s a school computer, applications [like Spotify] should be blocked. All applications on school computers should be blocked if they are not educational. After all, they’re the school’s computers.”
In the IT department, Scott Dreier, a Technology Support Specialist, declined to share his personal opinion on the matter; however, he did mention his role in the issue. He said simply, “When the county blocks something, they block it—we go with the flow.”
Though no public statement was released by FCPS on the decision to block the streaming service, it can be presumed that it was blocked on the basis that it distracts students’ learning.