The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Public Schools: Civil Rights Organizations Urge Ban on Surveillance Technology in K12 Schools

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

A coalition of over 40 civil rights organizations has written a letter to the U.S. Department of Education expressing concerns about the use of surveillance technology in K12 schools. The letter emphasizes that the use of surveillance technology can lead to increased police presence in schools, greater police contact with students, exclusionary discipline, and school pushout, especially affecting marginalized communities such as Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth.

The authors urge the agency to ban the use of federal funds for surveillance technologies and divest discretionary appropriations from funding police surveillance hardware. Additionally, they recommend providing technical guidance to support school districts in conducting audits to ensure compliance with AI and big data technologies’ legal regulations. Furthermore, they suggest studying surveillance tools and other algorithmic technologies to understand their risks on public schools.

While several states have taken steps to address misuse of surveillance technology in public schools, such as banning facial recognition technology in New York, the authors argue that more action is needed to protect students, families, and educators from its harmful effects. They call on the Department of Education to take immediate action to end the dangerous transformation of America’s public schools.

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