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Privacy in the Classroom

Over the past 100 years, many people have begun to adjust their lives in accordance with
the latest technology. With the use of technology making its way into the new environments,
such as classrooms, many students are questioning how much of their personal information is
able to be seen and collected by their school board administrators. Although many administrators
may support the use of technology in the classroom, I agree with those that feel that using
technology in their classrooms allows too much of the students privacy to be viewed and
collected.
Many school board administrators have argued that the use of technology in the
classroom better prepares students for what they might have to encounter as they grow older for
their job and allows them to find information quicker and in a way that can make learning fun for
the students. Many administrators may argue that since the number of jobs that are beginning to
use technology for everything that they do is increasing, allowing students to become familiar
with the technology would help the to be better qualified for a job that involves technology than
someone who did not grow up using technology every day. Richard D. Kahlenberg, co-author of
"A Smarter Charter: Finding What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education," says that if
the data collected is properly secured and protected then that data can provide a powerful tool
for promoting public educations fundamental mission of furthering equal educational
opportunity. In other words, having this sort of data can create a better and equal education
program, regardless of a parents income or other factors. Olga Garcia-Kaplan, vice president of
the shareholder communications firm D.F. King, suggests that access to this data is important as
it can alert to warning signs of learning disabilities so they can be addressed early and
efficiently. In making this comment, Garcia-Kaplan argues that the data collected can not only

be used to inform parents and the school of the childs grades and other details, but it can also be
used to help children that may need extra help in certain areas by evaluating the childs grades to
see if there are any learning disabilities that need to be addressed.
Although teachers advocate for the use of technology in the classroom, allowing students
to use technology gives them that extra distraction away from what is being taught and they also
have that extra chance to cheat. Not only are there consequences of technology in the classroom
that hinder a childs learning experience, but students also feel that their privacy is invaded by
the school board by being able to see everything that they do while at school. Khaliah Barnes,
director of the student privacy project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, argues that
When schools record and analyze students every move and recorded thought, they chill
expression and speech, stifling innovation and creativity. Having this restriction on students
prevents them from being able to be artistic and imaginative, which are two qualities that
students normally develop at a young age.
While collecting students information, like grades and disciplinary events, can help
school board administrators to better assess a childs learning abilities, it may worry parents that
have concerns about the safety of their childs information. Although Garcia-Kaplan believes
that the information gathered can be used in a productive manner that would benefit the students,
she also states that Parents need to understand what data is being collected, who has access to
this information and what security protocols are in place at the school, district and state level to
ensure that student data is kept private and secure. In a more practical vein, schools must also
make smart decisions regarding what data should be collected about students for it to be
meaningful at all. The essence of Garcia-Kaplans argument is that if the administration is
going to begin and continue to gather students information, there should be a legitimate and

meaningful reason and the students parents should be aware of these reasons. Schools should
not be able to collect data without having a legitimate reason because it prevents future problems
and questions from concerning parents about the safety of the childrens information.
Not only are the students concerned, but the parents are also concerned about the safety
of their child and their personal information. Jules Polonetsky, executive director and cochairman of the Future of Privacy Forum, says that in 1974, the Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act (FERPA), [guarantees] parents the right to see their childs education records and
[requires] public schools to protect the privacy of those records. Forty years after this act was
passed, the data of students attendance records, grades and disciplinary details have grown due
to the development of technology. Along with this increase in the connection between students
records and technology, there is a greater need for a deeper connection between parents and the
school to make sure that their childrens information is secured. Another way to keep the parents
involved in this process is to make sure parents and students understand why and how
technology and data are being used to advance learning, how the information collected is
protected in the process and what the schools are doing to safeguard protected information
(Polonetsky). Basically, Polonetsky is saying that in order to make parents comfortable with the
idea of collecting their students data, parents should be notified of what the data is being used
for and the steps schools are taking to secure this data. I think Polonetsky is mistaken because he
overlooks that although the students information is secure, there is still the issue of an invasion
of the students privacy and what that does to the students learning abilities, as far as being able
to be creative without having the feeling that they are being watched or monitored.
As a student who has seen the first-hand effects of incorporating technology into
everyday lessons, I am able to relate to other students that have the same concerns as I do as far

as how much of our privacy is actually kept private. Although I grant that gathering students
information can be a positive thing that can be used to help students that may have learning
disabilities and keep parents informed of the childs grades and disciplinary details, I still
maintain that gathering this information can harm a childs creativity and create problems and
concerns with parents that are unsure of the safety of their childs information.

Works Cited
Barnes, Khaliah. "Student Data Collection Is Out of Control." The New York Times: Room For
Debate. N.p., 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
Garcia-Kaplan, Olga. "Data Collection Must Focus on Teaching." The New York Times: Room
For Debate. N.p., 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.

Kahlenberg, Richard D. "Student Data Is a Powerful Force for Equity." The New York Times.
N.p., 24 Sept. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
Polonetsky, Jules. "Transparency About What Data Is Used Is Key for Parents and Students."
The New York Times: Room For Debate. N.p., 26 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.