Student data privacy experts warned school leaders this week that surveillance technology, particularly educational technology that uses “deceptive marketing practices” while touting surveillance technology that promises to improve school safety and student well-being. He urged businesses to be cautious.

As concerns grow over the rise in school shootings and student suicides, many schools are turning to technology for solutions. But don't let fear drive your decisions, said Chad Marlowe, a senior policy adviser at the American Civil Liberties Union who specializes in privacy, surveillance and technology.

“It's hard to put fear aside, but do it,” Marlowe said Monday while speaking at the South by Southwest EDU conference in Austin, Texas. “Rely on data and proven facts. You should do the things that schools teach kids to do when doing research and writing reports.”

Marlow acknowledged that it is difficult to avoid being influenced by education technology surveillance marketing strategies that fuel the narrative that school shootings are a high risk for schools. The number of school shootings in the United States hit a record high of 306 in November 2023, but risk communication consultant David Lopeik said the odds of a K-12 student being shot at school are about 614,000. I discovered that it was 1 in 10,000. .

“That's twice as likely as winning the Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot,” Marlowe said. “Fear is understandable, this is the worst-case scenario. But marketing that suggests that your school will see any of these events happen soon is not accurately contextualized in the most accurate way.” yeah.”

Marlow said schools typically choose these technologies with pure intentions, but introducing them into schools can have unintended consequences that harm marginalized groups. Stated. Content monitoring and filtering techniques lack nuance and can miss the context of the information students are searching for when using school-issued devices.

“When we see a situation where a child searching for LGBTQ+ information gets reported and sent to the principal’s office, we should look at it not as an example of justice, but as an example of technology gone bad.” said Meredith. Mr. Brousard is a data journalist and director of research at New York University's Alliance for Public Interest Technology.

Mr Marlow said students with disabilities could be warned about aggressive behavior through surveillance cameras and aggression detection technology designed to alert them to abnormal or unusual behavior. .

“What this means is that behavior that is perfectly normal for students with disabilities or neurodivergent students is likely to be marked as problematic,” Marlowe says. “For example, students with ADHD may look around or fidget during distance learning or exams, but that doesn't mean they're not paying attention or cheating. These programs give them warnings like “Do it.'' “

Many of the conference speakers argued that human problems require human solutions, not technology. Marlow said school shootings, bombings and student suicides are prevented when concerned students report warning signs to school officials. Amelia Vance, director of the Public Interest Privacy Center, agreed that building trust between students and adults within schools is the best line of defense.

“Honestly, school administrators need to invest more in real solutions rather than apps, like hiring actual licensed mental health therapists,” said Encode, a freshman at George Washington University. said Shreya Sampath, Justice Branch Project Director.

Mr Marlow called on school leaders to be wary of surveillance technology, particularly edtech companies that use “deceptive marketing techniques” to promote surveillance technology that promises to improve school safety and student welfare.

skyler lispens

Written by Skylar Rispens

Skylar Rispens is a reporter for StateScoop and EdScoop. She previously worked as a reporter specializing in education coverage for daily and weekly newspapers across Montana and currently resides in Montana.

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