Last week, I shared a Breibart Article about a school device program. The title was a little odd for the content, but it was suggested that kids were being spied upon by the software on the devices. Accurate or not, that is not the main reason I shared it. The main point was that neither staff nor teachers seemed to know anything about the software on the devices. This is most concerning because what is the point of the program, if no one even knows what is in it.
Further, SD76 is bringing in a similar program, and they intend bring it in to younger classes. This was openly discussed by the board at their monthly meetings. The program in and off itself seems harmless, but there are some background items that need clarified before I and other parents concerns with it will be alleviated.
- Was a cost benefit analysis done, and if so, where can the details of that be found?
- What is the intended purpose of the program? If it is to make communication about assignments easier, why are individual devices needed? There are several software options available, that have existed for decades that are far more cost effective and robust than training all students and teachers on new proprietary devices or software. Proprietary devices also do not prepare the child to use common market devices once they graduate.
- What is the security on the devices, and what is the extent of the communication that goes on privately between student and teacher. There have already been cases in the US of 2 tier access to the devices. One for parents, and one for students. It was even discovered that the parent access had less information available than the student, and that districts were keeping key programming and assignment questions secret from parents. Private communication between students and teachers has repeatedly been shown to put students at risk to inappropriate relationships with their teachers.
- These programs have been tried before, and they were colossal failures. Have the lessens be learned from the past?It seems appropriate that more details and information be available to parents prior to pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the program. Hopefully this is something that the district will take into consideration moving forward.