German teacher loses battle against pupils' web rankings

Jun 23, 2009
Picture shows a student viewing the logo of the German website "spick.mich" in Berlin in 2008. A German teacher, who sued to shut down the website, lost her battle before the federal supreme court in Karlsruhe, southern Germany.

A German teacher who had sued to shut down a website where pupils rank their instructors according to competence and "coolness" lost her battle in court Tuesday.

The Federal Supreme Court, Germany's top civil tribunal, rejected the claim of the teacher, Astrid Czubayko-Reiss, that her right to privacy was violated by the site, spickmich.de, (loosely translated, checkmeout.de) where she received a mediocre rating from students.

"The right of students to exchange opinions and communicate freely outweighs the right of the teacher suing to determine information available about her," the court in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe said.

The website allows students to turn the tables on by anonymously grading them in categories including "cool and funny", "popular", "motivated", "relaxed" and "teaches well".

Czubayko, a German teacher from the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, had received an overall grade of 4.3, or a "D". She had also lost her case before lower courts and appealed to the federal tribunal.

The German Teachers' Association criticised the ruling.

"It is inexplicable that the BGH values the personal rights of teachers less than an anonymous assessment of teachers by on the Internet," Association president Josef Kraus said, referring to the federal court.

Kraus said his organisation hoped the case would be overturned by the country's highest tribunal, the Federal Constitutional Court.

(c) 2009 AFP

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User comments : 5

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mvg
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 23, 2009
"The German Teachers' Association criticised the ruling."

They don't use this as a means to identify their shortcomings and improve--they just criticise!

How typical of the "teaching profession".

Tenured incompetence!
MorituriMax
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 23, 2009
And also, as the Federal Supreme Court ruled, she doesn't get to determine what students can say about her in their own opinions. Maybe if they were sharing naked pictures of her, but I would have been shocked (not surprised, but shocked) if a court said that a bunch of kids couldn't compare notes about the person teaching them in a public classroom.
MorituriMax
3 / 5 (2) Jun 23, 2009
Had another thought, if she had won her case, wouldn't the students be able to sue her if she graded some of them differently than others? In other words, she gives one student a D, and another an A, and yet a third student a B-... surely the various kids could have sued her for violating their "privacy."

Weird.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2009
The German Teachers' Association criticised the ruling


They are a union. It's their job to do that.

Sometimes a union simply has to do silly things to support its members. Just like lawyers are supposed to defend their clients even if they think they are guilty.

Still it does make them look silly.

Ethelred

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smiffy
3 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2009
If the teacher published her pupil's grades on a website, then I think the pupils would justly have a right to sue her for breach of privacy.

No one is trying to "determine what students can say about her in their own opinions". But those opinions really only belong to interested parties, not to the public. When people exchange negative opinions about someone who has a relevance to them then that is only fair. To spread those opinions beyond, and especially publicly, isn't.

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