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

School Surveillance: The Dangerous Escalation of the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Marginalized Youth

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, a coalition of over 40 civil rights organizations expressed their concerns about the negative effects of increased surveillance technology in K12 schools. They warned that such actions could lead to a dangerous escalation in the school-to-prison pipeline and the criminalization of marginalized youth, particularly Black, Brown, and Indigenous students.

According to the letter, surveillance technologies in schools can result in greater police presence, increased police contact with students, exclusionary discipline and school pushout. The coalition urged the Department of Education to ban the use of federal funds for purchasing surveillance equipment, including those that utilize artificial intelligence.

To protect marginalized communities from technology-enabled rights abuses, the coalition provided six recommendations. These include divesting discretionary agency funding from police surveillance hardware, conducting algorithmic impact audits to ensure legal compliance of AI and big data technologies, studying the risks associated with surveillance tools in public schools and involving youth and young adults in AI data privacy governance.

The coalition emphasized that while some states have taken steps to address this issue at a local level, immediate action is needed at a national level to prevent America’s public schools from becoming spaces of increased surveillance and potential harm to students.

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