Court Orders French Web Site To Stop Rating Teachers

    March 3, 2008

A Web site in France that allowed students to anonymously rate and name their teachers has been ordered by a court to no longer allow the practice.

Teachers unions with the backing of the education ministry took the site to court, saying the personal comments were a breach of privacy and an "incitement to public disorder." The site was created in January by French entrepreneurs, allowed students to rate and discuss their teacher’s abilities.

The judges in the case took the side of the teachers and said the Web site could no longer rate teachers by their names and any violation would require the sites owners to pay a $1,520 (1,000 euro) fine.

"This is an astonishing and surprising decision that has worrying implications for the development of the Web," said Stephane Cola, who co-founded the site, Reuters reported. "The ranking and evaluation of professionals on the Web is a fundamental principle and a primary motor of the Internet around the world," he told reporters after the verdict.

The teachers unions praised the verdict. "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. allowed students to rate their teachers in six areas including, how interesting, clear, fair, available, respectful and motivated they were. It also featured a ranking system to reward France’s top 10 teachers.

Education Minister Xavier Darcos voiced approval of the court verdict saying he," totally supported teachers whose difficult mission will not be the object of anonymous attacks on the Internet".