RateMyTeachers.com Blog

Friday, January 21, 2005

Now parents can join kids in rating their teachers online

Now parents can join kids in rating their teachers online

By Rick Karlin
Albany (N.Y.) Times Union
January 21, 2005

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A Web site that enables students to rate and make comments about their teachers online is about to let parents in on the act.

The operators of Ratemyteachers.com are setting up a portion of their site where parents can rate the teachers, as well.

It's envisioned as an electronic version of long-standing, informal forums such as coffee klatches or PTA meetings where parents might swap information about which teachers are stars and which are dogs.

"We're kind of testing it out still," Mike Hussey, one of the site's founders, said of the new parents section.

The biggest challenge, he said, is making it as easy as possible for parents to log on and post comments, since they typically aren't as adept at navigating interactive Web sites as their kids.

"We'll make it a little easier," said Hussey.

Ratemyteachers.com has become a nationwide phenomenon since it was launched in 2001.

The site created an instant controversy, with teachers and administrators complaining that there was nothing to stop students who were simply unhappy with their grades from posting negative comments.

The site's operators say they use volunteer students as local administrators to edit out remarks that are vulgar or in bad taste.

Since its launch, Hussey said, close to 1 million teachers have been listed on the site, which is broken out by states and individual schools.

Some 1.2 million people visit the site each month, he said.

"It's been growing like crazy," said Hussey, who added that a similar site, Ratemyprofessors.com, has been started for college students who want to exchange buzz on their instructors.

One Brooklyn, N.Y., teacher contacted authorities in 2003, requesting that her name be removed from the site.

That never happened, however, after site lawyers successfully argued that teachers are open to scrutiny as public figures.

In what Hussey said was a backhanded sign of interest, plenty of schools block access to Ratemyteachers.com on computers in their buildings.

Most of the teachers listed on the site get positive comments, but there are always a few complaints, ranging from being too demanding to too lax.


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