The Lower Merion School District (motto: “We’re Building the Future Police State”), caught using a remote monitoring service on school-supplied laptops while the kids were at home, had some pretty creepy rules on the books to ensure compliance. To wit we find, thanks to strydehax, these gems:
* Possession of a monitored Macbook was required for classes
* Possession of an unmonitored personal computer was forbidden and would be confiscated
* Disabling the camera was impossible
* Jailbreaking a school laptop in order to secure it or monitor it against intrusion was an offense which merited expulsion
Expulsion, eh? Pretty rough stuff. But shouldn’t the school district be able to protect their investment? Well, the reason this all came up was that a kid in the district was caught eating Mike-n-Ikes at home. The principal called him in for eating candy and, presumably, this school watching this kid in his own room. This means, in an effort to prevent theft, there was some potential pedophilia happening here.
That’s not all. Here’s the PA tech guy, Mike Perbix, talking about the tracking program, LANDRev in a promotional video:
And then there are these testimonials by students at the school, including:
” had brought in my own personal computer to work on a project for school one day. I was doing a presentation involving programs not available on the regular computers, only in specific labs. I happened to have a copy of my own. My personal property was confiscated from me in a study hall when I was working on a school assignment because it was against the schools ‘code of conduct’.”
What we have here is a perfect example of why technology, thrown willy-nilly at children, is bad. These laptops gave school authorities the ability to spy on their charges in their own homes. You can see the board meeting now: “Let’s give the kids laptops.” “How do we make sure they don’t look at porn?” “We’ll watch them. I know these dudes with a great solution.” And so it begins. A great idea – giving kids technology – turns into reducing the learning opportunities by essentially making that technology useless. If I were in a flamewar kind of mood, I’d say this is what stymies the One Laptop Per Child project as well. It’s the assumption that kids will break your stuff and so they deserve hobbled hardware.
Technology, when misused, does not augment teaching. Instead, it gets in the way of it.
This is a dark day for education and will cast a pall over future laptop loaner programs. These administrators should be ashamed.