Data and Our Rights as Parents

Education quote here

When it comes to data collection and one to one technology (1:1 technology) parental rights must always be at the forefront of the discussion. Data is being collected on our children at alarming rates, and yes I understand it goes with the territory that comes from living in a technology rich world. However, the data that is being collected from our children, whether through tests, online assignments, or paperwork we fill out, is then being released to third party vendors, without the knowledge or consent of the parents. This is effectively turning our children into a commodity. When society views children as a commodity how does that change a child’s worth? Are we letting this data determine our children’s worth as individuals?

While at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, my concerns grew as I gained more knowledge and understanding with what was intended to be done with this data. I attended a United Nations meeting in which the discussion was centered around “What if…” The focus of this meeting was, what if data could be used to determine the outcome of individuals and the human condition. You must ask according to whose standards.

I sat and listened to a top United Nations official answer two concerns brought up by Jenny Baker and myself: 1. How will they protect personal data and keep that data within the family? 2. How will you assure us that our children will not be turned into commodities and parents won’t be referred to as stakeholders?

Kate Gilmore, Executive Director of UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) said in response, “…we discovered that for millions and millions of women that marriage is not much better than an arbitrary detention cell; that the kitchen is a torture chamber; that the bedroom is a site for the gravest of human rights violations.  As much as we wish to uphold the responsibility and the burden of parenting to sustain people in that and to preserve the privacy, I am afraid by performance alone, we can neither trust nor leave alone the care of the most vulnerable to anybody who has power over them, whether it be the state, whether it be the church, whether it be the mosque, or the synagogue or unfortunately the family or the marriage.”

Again whose standards will be upheld in the use of this data and determining individual outcomes? Our children’s data privacy is a very real concern. Imagine the amount of data that will be collected once every child in school is given their very own tablet all in the name of “individualized instruction”. There is no way to guarantee the safety of our children’s data or of our children.

Many parents do not allow their children to have a personal electronic device. Many have a set age where they will give them a smartphone or tablet. This has always been a decision left to the parents. Now, school officials are circumventing those decisions in the name of “high stakes learning”. This parental right is being overlooked! As a parent, I feel that technology should be used as a supplement to my children’s learning, not as the main source, as it is currently being pushed with 1:1 technology. How many parents remember the warnings about the dangers of too much screen time? Now those warnings are being ignored in order to push forward an agenda. Parents are always being warned about the dangers of pornograph, currently being called the New Drug and recently declared a public health crisis in Utah. We all know how easily accessible it is via personal electronic devices. Will this access somehow be lessened on a school issued personal device?

We are told by school officials that they have safeguards in place to keep our children safe, yet our children are still being exposed to pornography while on school computers. Children as young as 3rd and 4th grades first encounter pornography on a school computer. Teenagers are sharing hacks to bypass any safeguard. These hacks also allow pornography to be viewed without any trace. There are apps that look and behave as something else when in reality it’s used to store files, videos and pictures. One such app is a calculator; this app behaves like a calculator but is actually a file cabinet. How will schools protect against those apps and hacks when those very hacks and apps are evolving just as fast as technology evolves?

We must slow down this momentum pushing these new reforms forward. Slow down and ask questions. The burden of proof must be placed on those asking us as parents to trust them with the welfare of our children. Parents must be brought to the table and allowed to ask the hard questions. After all, it’s our parental right.

Take time to watch the first 20 min.


The Fundamental Right of Parents

I firmly stand for and respect the fundamental right of parents to guide the educational decisions of their children and value the heightened protections declared in Utah State Code.

Unfortunately, this fundamental right of parents to guide their child’s education has been flipped on its head. Under the current educational reforms the state’s role is seen as primary, special interest groups secondary, and then parents. There is such a great momentum to push these reforms through that parents have lost control as to what is being taught to their children, so much so, that we are no longer consulted.

utah state code