Is it acceptable for schools to receive funding for surveillance technology?
Technology

Surveillance in K12 Schools: A Civil Rights Coalition Urges Ban on Federal Funds

A coalition of more than 40 civil rights organizations has written a letter to the U.S. Department of Education expressing their concerns about the use of surveillance technology in K12 schools. They believe that the use of this technology can have a detrimental impact on students, families, and educators, leading to increased police presence in schools, greater police contact with students, exclusionary discipline, and school pushout, especially affecting marginalized communities like Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth.

The letter calls for a ban on the use of federal funds for surveillance technologies and urges the agency to divest discretionary appropriations from funding police surveillance hardware. It also recommends providing technical guidance to support school districts in conducting audits to ensure the legal compliance of AI and big data technologies. In addition, the letter suggests studying surveillance tools and other algorithmic technologies to understand the risks they pose to public schools.

While several states have taken steps to address the misuse of surveillance technology in public schools, such as banning facial recognition technology in New York, the authors of the letter argue that more action is needed to protect students’ privacy and safety. They call on the Department of Education to take immediate action to end the dangerous transformation of America’s public schools into spaces where students are constantly monitored and surveilled.

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