Privacy Issues Surrounding 1:1 Devices (aka STAT)

Here is a comment sent to the blog about the privacy issues surrounding 1:1 devices.

In my opinion the worst aspect of 1:1 devices is the student data mining. It appears third parties & software companies collect, store, analyze, and probably share, data about our children gleaned from their use of 1:1 devices. Why aren’t you all discussing this? A couple articles to consider below. 

Politico – The big biz of spying on little kids
“Students shed streams of data about their academic progress, work habits, learning styles and personal interests as they navigate educational websites. All that data has potential commercial value: It could be used to target ads to the kids and their families, OR TO BUILD PROFILES ON THEM THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST TO EMPLOYERS, MILITARY RECRUITERS OR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS OFFICERS.” Emphasis added

New York Times – Tools for Tailored Learning May Expose Students Personal Details
“These apps and sites represent a small but growing segment of the overall market for prekindergarten through 12th-grade education software. But already, the data collection has raised concerns among lawmakers and parents about whether school districts are equipped to monitor and manage how schools and online education services safeguard students’ personal details.”
“As schools themselves increasingly analyze socioeconomic, behavioral and emotional data about students, some parents are more troubled by the possibility that the data could be used in making decisions that are damaging to their children, POTENTIALLY AFFECTING THEIR COLLEGE OR JOB PROSPECTS.” Emphasis added

American Thinker – Common Core: Who’s Watching the Kids?

  •  “Children may be playing interactive educational games, doing interactive assignments, and writing stories that can be easily shared with the teacher and other students. These seemingly harmless activities are in fact being used to collect personal and private information without the parents’ consent or knowledge.”
  • “Could that educational game be used to measure your child’s mental state? Could those interactive assignments involve morally ambiguous questions that can be used to create a psychological profile of your child? Could that shared story be used to predict violent behavior?”
  • “Maybe you think ‘predicting future violent behavior’ is a step in the right direction. What if your kid is flagged because he did something that most of us did growing up, such as draw a picture of a gun?”
  • “So who will be watching and analyzing our kids?”
  • “This data will be stored forever, and parents will have very, very limited access to it, if any at all.”  Emphasis added

BCPS Budget Cuts to Pay for STAT

Air conditioning is being blamed for debilitating cuts to school budgets even though Dr. Dance has been upfront about redirecting this money towards STAT.

If the County Council approves BCPS’ budget, schools will receive $11,205,049 less for instructional materials, supplies, field trips and assemblies for the 2016-17 school year than they received for the 2014-15 school year. These cuts will become deeper each year. According to Dr. Dance, “Once fully implemented in Fiscal Year 20, more than 1/4 of the [STAT] program’s ongoing cost of $63,000,000 will have been redirected from the Operating Budget.” Where will the other 3/4 will come from to lease those devices? 

Middle and High School budgets have been siphoned to pay for Elementary School devices. High schools will receive $5,800,307 less than they received for the 2014-15 school year and middle schools will receive $2,998,449 less.

These cuts were proposed on January 5th, before the Board of Ed voted to add $10,000,000 to the Operating Budget for air conditioning on January 19th (which could have installed portable units in every classroom by August 2016.) The County Executive refused this portable AC request, so this is certainly not to blame for cuts to school operating budgets.

At the January 19th Operating Budget work session, Board Member Mike Collins objected to these budget cuts, but Dr. Dance said the 20 principals he spoke with were fine with them. Ann Miller, Kathleen Causey and June Eaton were the only Board members who voted against the budget.

Please see budget documents below:

ES Budgets from FY2017-Board-Proposed-Operating-Budget-2 1

MS and HS Budgets from FY2017-Board-Proposed-Operating-Budget-2 3

Summary of Non-Salary Allocation from FY2017-Board-Proposed-Operating-Budget-2 4

These are examples given by teachers about what is lost in these cuts: novels, supplies (poster paper, pencils, pencil sharpeners, copy paper), SAT prep materials, AP materials, professional development for AP teachers to be able to teach, redesigned college-level classes, and much more. Some departments have run out of money mid-year and there will be larger cuts next year.

The County does not purchase novels–they come out of the school budgets and with school budgets being cut, these will be cut, too. Also, the curriculum keeps changing and new novels are needed to accommodate these changes. Many middle and high school students do not have access to computers at home and there are often no online access during the school day.  One teacher noted, it is impossible to read textbook pages with sidebars and footnotes on a phone. Any copies made by teachers are made on paper they buy after a small amount because paper is now limited.