Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Big Brother gets bigger

Glenn Greenwald, probably my all-time favorite blogger, writes this week about “how children are being trained to give up all privacy, and to be good, dutiful Surveillance State citizens, through constant, pervasive surveillance in schools,” which are “[t]raining children from an early age to have no expectation of privacy -- to live on the assumption that their every move and even thought (which is what Internet activity is) will be monitored and recorded by authority figures . . .”

Greenwald cites this article:

Whether it is a district surveilling students in their bedrooms via webcam, conducting random drug or locker searches, strip-searching students, lowering the standard for searching students to “reasonable suspicion” from “probable cause,” disciplining students for conduct outside of school hours, searching their cellphones and text messages, or allegedly forcing them to undergo pregnancy testing, student privacy is under increasing threat.

The other day I mentioned a Connecticut school district that wanted to require students to carry an ID card with an RFID chip so that they could track their location. The surveillance capability included locating the student if they were off school premises and in town. . . .

It strikes me that schools are grooming our youth to simply accept being tracked and monitored wherever they go and that anything they do, anywhere, can be used against them in school or elsewhere. Is this really how we want to raise our children? . . .

It’s time for a national dialogue about student privacy, while there are still some remnants of it left.

Isn’t this of a piece with all the emphasis on being quiet obedient hard workers, with the treatment of children as objects to be manipulated, with the conception of children as future employees, with the use of recess as a coercion tool and parents as homework police, with the medication of kids who won’t sit still, with the devaluing of the humanities, with the neglect of qualities like curiosity, skepticism, and the ability to ask a good question -- that is, with all the things that follow from a system rooted in high-stakes standardized testing? If you were trying to make America a more authoritarian, less democratic place, isn’t high-stakes testing exactly the educational approach you would choose?

..How can I comment?