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Schools Are Deploying Digital Surveillance Systems (edweek.org)
175 points by johnny313 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 178 comments



> Evergreen Public Schools in Washington state, for example, started using the company's service this school year. Between September and mid-March, the system flagged more than 9,000 incidents in the 26,000-student district. The overwhelming majority-84 percent-were for minor violations, such as profanity.

The fact that the system even monitors for profanity at all tells me its purpose has a lot more to do with student surveillance than it does with student safety.


That was exactly my thought. How does finding an assignment with the word "pussy" in it help anyone? (Plus if it's an assignment, wouldn't the teacher eventually see it? WTF?) I just don't get what parents and school administrators think they're achieving with this given the potential harm that can come from it. Were I a parent, I certainly wouldn't want some random person at the school to have access to everything my kid does online. Especially knowing how creepy some of the school administrators I dealt with growing up were!


Having had my 1A rights flagrantly violated by a petty administrator, I wholeheartedly agree. We need to worry about surveilling dysfunctional bureaucrats and their behavior, not students.


I don't nessecarily have an issue with surveillance systems as they act as force multipliers for all sorts of noble causes.

Surveillance systems should strictly be used for physical safety, anti-vandalism, and loss prevention purposes. You're not preparing kids to succeed by micromanaging them from behind a series of monitors. At all. People who intend to use the system to punish the kids for swearing by no means should be allowed access. The teachers and even the principal really shouldn't even have access to reduce the temptation to abuse the surveillance system. If they keep getting access the surveillance system should be thrown in the trash.

Bosses who use similar systems to keep their employees working can also expect nothing better than mediocrity and a widespread CYA mentality.


Every surveillance system will be used to persecute innocent people who the surveillers do not like. Moreover, it has long been argued that surveillance itself is a form of persecution. See Bentham, Foucault etc.


What noble causes do they currently act as force multipliers for?


Classification of people into a permanent class hierarchy.


Putting desperately poor people in jail.


Overtime for local responder staff. Revenue for keyword based twitter searcherers.


Protecting children's charities from thieves.


You think these schools and teachers want to educate kids? These people want to just get their salary at the end of the month and eliminate all potential liabilities that could get them in trouble.

They would ban eye contact and speaking to each other, if it would bring them more peace of mind and job security. Kinda like dictators do...


There are lots and lots of good teachers that do want to educate kids. You don't go into teaching high school for the money.

The further you go up the administrative chain, the less true that statement becomes, however.


As a Washingtonian I'd like to defensively point out that Evergreen School District is in the part of the state with all the idiots and measles.


"Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


To fight this, I don't think we should be talking about privacy or rights. That's all very important, but society is already fairly desensitized to that language, and the pro-surveillance side can literally point to the dead bodies of real children.

Instead, we should be talking about how deleterious it is to the character development of our children. Among other problems, they are being demanded to conform to an increasingly narrow range of acceptable behavior, and conditioned to develop about as unhealthy a relationship with authority figures as possible.


That won't work either though.

I can hear it now:

<sarcasm> "Well, if by 'increasingly narrow range of acceptable behavior' you mean 'not molesting the girls and refraining from committing school shootings' then maybe they should have systems like this!" </sarcasm>

You need to have some arguments not centered around the idea of behavior. Because that idea will be thrown back at you almost immediately. Behavior is exactly what these people will say they are trying to change.


It’s so crazy considering the kids are exhibiting the exact same behavior as their parents 20-30 years ago. Puberty isn’t new...


From some distance it looks to me like kids today are aren't exhibiting the same behavior as their parents. Their parents were oh so much much worse behaved.


>they are being demanded to conform to an increasingly narrow range of acceptable behavior, and conditioned to develop about as unhealthy a relationship with authority figures as possible.

Wait, I thought that was school in a nutshell already. :D That's certainly all it did for me until I hit college.


My solution is generally to apply the same rules to the people enforcing the rules. Drug test students? Drug test the administration, superintendents, board of education, etc...


The issue is that this indoctrinates children into living in a totalitarian state. If you never have any freedom as a child, how will you know it's missing as an adult?


> Instead, we should be talking about how deleterious it is to the character development of our children.

I think we should skip logic and go for the emotional "what happens when a pedophile get's this information" argument. There's certainly enough truth to it, a pedophile having that sort of surveillance data could do all sorts of psychological manipulation, even getting access to the schools database would do it.


>> Among other problems, they are being demanded to conform to an increasingly narrow range of acceptable behavior...

Most parents want this.


I cannot believe that these people are so dense:

>"Why would it have a chilling effect if the superintendent of the school might see something that slips through the system about someone went hunting?" he asked. "There's no threat."

How is the following not harm?

>He pointed to a recent incident in which Social Sentinel flagged a college student who threatened on Twitter to shoot his professor for scheduling an early morning exam. (The student, who said he intended no harm, was arrested.)


They're not dense. These people consider that kind of stuff perfectly acceptable because they have a world view in which living in totalitarian society is acceptable. Their world view simply does not align with yours or mine. They simply do not consider the use these kind of systems to be fundamentally incompatible with free society the way you or I do.


Your comment reminds me of a cautionary essay by a adolescent psychologist. Her warning was that psychologists are not a normative group because of the conformist selection process. Getting a PhD in psychology is an exercise in knuckling under. That is something that is pretty alien to a typical teenager.

As a result psychologists often see aberrant behavior in adolescents that is actually gob smack normal and ultimately harmless.


This thread is frustrating. First off, there's a typo in the quote. The word "who" is missing: "..someone who went hunting?"

Second off, even if the missing word was "we": "...someone we went hunting." The CEO of the company supplying the software has a direct incentive to see things from the other side. It's not denseness; it's business.

This is not a battle between totalitarians and freedom fighters, it's a battle between those who think security is more important within this context, and those who think privacy is more important within this context.


A student got arrested for expressing frustration on twitter. It's hard not to read that as creeping into totalitarian.


It's an anecdote. Overzealous policing has happened in lots of democracies for centuries.


> These people consider that kind of stuff perfectly acceptable because they have a world view in which living in totalitarian society is acceptable.

Except they don't. The moment the totalitarian society started to demand conformance to something they don't like, you can be sure they would object.


That's...literally everyone who supports totalitarian and authoritarian states. They support it because they share its values, and they like that those values are enforced.

Nobody goes "well they put my ma in the gulag, but I still agree with them politically"


They move the goalposts to the new normal, see "problems" still happening and apply the same solution iteratively to absurdim.


When organizations spend money on a 'tool' they will find a justification for it's existence.

30 years ago the city I lived in bought a helicopter for the police. So they could 'spot criminals from the air'. They actually appear to use it mostly to look for teenagers hanging out in parks after hours.


And said state will take off its hat, apologize and disappear? C'mon mate...


Consequence of widespread gun availability: all petty threats have to be taken seriously. In a world where every few months someone does turn up and murder several people at school, which is then all over the national news, it's hard to see how it can be otherwise.


"The local Brazosport Independent School District had recently hired a company called Social Sentinel to monitor public posts from all users, including adults, on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. The company's algorithms flagged Lafrenais's tweet as a potential threat. Automated alerts were sent to the district's superintendent, chief of police, director of student services, and director of guidance. All told, nearly 140 such alerts were delivered to Brazosport officials during the first eight months of this school year..."

OK, I think we really need to investigate protecting the privacy of our youth. This is effectvely acclimating our children to minimal privacy as enforced by authoritarian organizations.


Unfortunately, it's pick one.

Either:

1. Allow for potential bullying and sexual harassment and other things kids put each other through.

2. Monitor every single thing they do and police them at all times.

We as a society need to make a choice. You cannot have a perfectly safe and positive environment at all times for children(and adults) without constant and detailed monitoring.

My guess is that the correct answer lies somewhere in the middle. Ignoring that reality and avoiding handling this at the regulatory level will result in groups going either all the way to one side or all the way to the other.

Edit: I'm shocked how insane and unrealistic the people downvoting this are. I feel so unbelievably bad if any of you have children or vote on any policy that has to do with children. Awful people. Just awful.


Its popular to create false dichotomies. Like this one.

How about: monitor them sometimes and train them into good behavior patterns, so as to create a population of civil citizens

You can have zero tolerance for bullying and harassment, without 100 surveillance. Like any civil society.


I can tell you right now (as someone that actually went to the mentioned Brazosport school) that if they had more stricter rules and monitoring "in my day", I probably wouldn't be here right now (as in being part of the HN community). I'd probably be in prison or working a minimum wage job.

I was not interested in going to high school. Perhaps because there were no classes that interested me (another issue). I cut class a lot (missed more than 20% of days), hung with the wrong crowd, ran from the school cop on several instances. And plenty of other unmentionables.

If there was more surveillance, I would have just gotten kicked out more or would have been pushed to just drop out. The only reason I graduated was due to the lack of surveillance.

So if "surveillance" is meant to help those that are impoverished or disenfranchised, and by my own account would have lead to a worse end in my life, then what are we helping?


Our it could have earlier identified you as 'at-risk', and led to more positive interventions in your education. You fell through the cracks, that's hardly an optimal outcome.


>and led to more positive interventions in your education

You mean actions that are arguably beneficial on paper but in practice amount to the school telling the at-risk student to <cartman>respect my authority</cartman>?

That stuff never works in practice when the party the at-risk person doesn't respect/care about is the same party or has sufficient/control or incentive alignment with the party doing the intervention.


So you're saying you were beyond all influence so they just should have left you alone? At that point they should have expelled you- did you ever think of the damage you were doing to the rest of the school population by your actions?

edit- did not realize you were not parent poster, though I think this holds true.


>At that point they should have expelled you-

That is an interesting point. "Get rid of the bad so the good can flourish". Which is opposite of the "equity" doctrine so popular over the last year.

I don't know what 'expelled' means in your definition. I was kicked out of the normal high school and sent to an 'alternative placement center' full of troubled youth several times. That was part of the reason I never failed a grade in high school.

The alternative center had very few teachers and had students from 6th grade through 12th. In the math and english classes, they were combined with students from high school and middle school. So when I'd get sent there, I'd have failing grades in math and english, but then in the alternative center, I was given 6th grade level work which I got all A's on and saved me for the year.

If you got kicked out of the alternative center, there was some kind of bootcamp type place you'd go to. Most of the kids I know that got sent there just ended up dropping out of school completely.

But all this is a contradiction. Many here are against homeschooling, yet when push comes to shove, no one wants trouble makers in the public school. But if homeschooling is bad and they can't go to public school, then what is left?


Oh yeah, nobody who is an educator would ever say such a thing. But as the spouse of one you can only hear so many stories of behavior before you start asking what the other students were learning while one kid goes on a 15 minute meltdown. But it's really dangerous where that thinking leads- so much of school performance/behavior is tied to family situations that it can go to some dark places if you replace the compassion most teachers have with simple pragmatism.

Homeschooling gets a bad rap here because of it's association with the right, but unfortunately for society as a whole it's a step in the wrong direction. It makes the quality of your education wholly dependent on your parents, which pretty much just accelerates the cycle.

Overall I think most towns have to accept it takes more resources to educate a kid on average than the public has been willing to allocate- it really is an 80-20 or 95-5 situation. But schools get decreasing budgets and increasing responsibilities, and react by cutting 'extraneous' activities that caught some of the marginal kids in the past (shop, art, etc) or by restricting things to a certain grade average (sports, activities), further disassociating those on the edges. The main thing I've notice at my kid's high school that is different from 30 years ago is the total lack of community- kids are told they need to excel and excel fast, which leads to a every man for himself kind of mentality. If you haven't found your niche by 14 you may as well pack it in, and that niche better be computers, nursing, or football or you're just wasting everyone's time.

But I can guarantee that most teachers/ administrators/ districts would rather do almost anything than deal with social media monitoring crap they barely understand- unfortunately the only thing worse than helping set up the police state is to have to explain to a news crew how you missed so many warning signs while EMTs are wheeling out bodies in the background.


>You can only hear so many stories of behavior before you start asking what the other students were learning while one kid goes on a 15 minute meltdown.

They're learning how to deal with people which is more important than the crap on the whiteboard.

I hear so much about how our schools are held back by accomidating problem students. Yet in my experience it was the students always disrupting the lesson plan and the class that caused me to learn shit. The teacher left to their own devices will merely teach kids how to get great marks in academic subjects which is a horrible waste of everybodies time. It only teaches people how to open doors.


That's a separate problem- students play dumb so class is easy as the teacher struggles to figure out how the kids made it so far. Then they get dinged when kids do miserably on standardized tests. And they don't dare just flunk them, or the parents will be in demanding the teachers head for disparaging their little genius.


>but unfortunately for society as a whole it's a step in the wrong direction. It makes the quality of your education wholly dependent on your parents, which pretty much just accelerates the cycle.

I'm still trying to figure out why everyone is against homeschooling. Everyone is negative, and if any reason it is given it is of the "won't get socialized correctly" type. But you mention "cycle". What cycle?

The cycle I see (and have seen personally), is a troubled youth floats through the public school system. Ends up working a minimum wage job for the rest of their life. And in the process of that, has children which then go through the public school system with no involvement from the parent. Then rinse wash and repeat.

So what is the "cycle" with homeschooling? In most cases you are already dealing with someone that is middle class or above (after all, homeschooling books cost lots of money) and someone that is involved with their child's education (otherwise why would you be homeschooling?). And to be middle class, you have to have a good trade or career path. Certainly something worth showing your kids. Public school seems to teach very little of the local government and small business world. After all, if you were good at small business, why would you be a teacher? The point I make is that with homeschooling, there are many more opportunities to give your children a diverse learning experience. Overall it mostly seems healthier mentally to the child as well. The pressures of hanging with the right crowd mostly go away as well as the depression associated when one feels like they are going to a prison everyday (and the cutting and self harm that comes with that).

Of course that's the best case scenario. I can use my own mother-in-law as one of the bad cases. She home schooled her kids without any input from the father. He was rarely home anyway. The boys started hanging out with the wrong crowd once they were teenagers. But it wasn't some rogue group of socially misfit home schooled children they joined up with. It was a group of socially misfit public school children from the wrong side of town. This is where I don't follow the "homeschool causes social issues" argument as in this case, the boys would have had the same friends whether they were home schooled or in public school. They only way to change that would have been to move.

But back to the question. Where's the "cycle"? In my mother-in-law's case, she was public schooled, then home schooled her daughter and boys single handily. The boys, well they're not doing too well. I'm sure they'll have kids of their own and I highly doubt they'll home school them. And statistically, if a parent performs poorly in school, so will the children. So the only cycle I see is one of under performers in school (regardless of whether public or private), produce children that are under performers.

But there is one saving grace. That mother of the home schooled boys had a daughter that saw the folly in her brother's ways. And as she was home schooled, she was not pressured into acting any one certain way, and chose to act maturely in all her ways. I then married her at my age of 28, having spent nearly 10 years looking for the "right" one. I think that has some merit.


For an individual family homeschooling may make sense, assuming they really are committed to it. The socialization issues are minor, and I agree that keeping them away from the 'bad' element is a huge plus.

But for society as a whole, it's better that the lower performers be exposed to a larger world than their dysfunctional situation. The odds are against them, but many are exposed to enough to improve their situation. That's the theory, anyway, and as someone raised on Egalitarian principles it seems to me the only way for a free society to function. But that seems to have fallen by the wayside in favor of lower taxes and an I've got mine mentality.


>Our it could have earlier identified you as 'at-risk', and led to more positive interventions in your education.

I've honestly thought about that a lot. You know, "what if someone took me under their wing and showed me how to truly fit in with society and be a great person". I doubt that would have worked. I saw most adults as idiots at the time and was not inclined to listen to anyone. For one, the advice I did get never helped or lined up with reality.

My parents told me to graduate high school, even though they hadn't. The counselors told me not to do drugs, even though the grapevine told me they themselves had (doesn't matter if that was true or not, as a teenager you make up your own "facts"). And my brain told me I had it all figured out and was part of the elite, and the rap music I blared that spoke of killing cops, beating women, and "making millions" justified my own thoughts. I was beyond help. It was only through basically getting kicked of my parents house and going all the way to the bottom did I then realized that I knew nothing.

Of course, perhaps if there was some counselor or authority that I could have repected at school, maybe then I would have listened. But finding someone to mesh with my mentality would have been difficult and would have required a lot of thought, care, and time on their part. And in my general experience, most counselors seem to get pretty burned out after 5+ years of dealing with unruly children and they then revert to not trying much and just occupying a desk chair. Most of my high school's faculty was like that. Most had had the same position for the last 20 years.


It’s funny, in 1994 the most popular Usenet channel for me was alt.destroy.the.earth (second was alt.food.tacobell). People just theorizing about blowing stuff up as thought experiments. I was a minor so what is the appropriate action from the school if they had some tool like this back then?

It’s hard to tell what’s dangerous speech vs kids exploring the world and stretching their brains. The gifted class loves the anarchist cookbook because it was weird stuff.

We need to figure out what sensitivity and specificity we want for these types of surveillance. I think there are some who think knocking on 1000 doors to prevent one shooting is acceptable.


> You can have zero tolerance for bullying and harassment, without 100 surveillance

You absolutely, positively, cannot have that. Bullying is an all day every day thing with children. Especially boys. The only way you prevent it all the time is to never leave boys alone in a group with no monitoring or supervision.

Edit: If you are downvoting or disagreeing with this, you are part of the absurdly unreasonable expectations we have for our children. Especially boys. And are likely part of the reason 1 in 6 boys are diagnosed with ADHD for not meeting these insane ideals.


>Bullying is an all day every day thing with children.

Kids tease each other, they call each other names, they occasionally get into fist-fights, but that's not necessarily bullying. Bullying is systematic and targeted harassment; it is entirely right and proper that we should not tolerate it.

If a kid is a bully, he's an asshole. He shouldn't necessarily be expelled or even necessarily suspended, but someone needs to make it crystal clear to him that his behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, otherwise he'll grow up to be an asshole and raise his kids to be assholes.

Don't drag ADHD or insane ideals into this and don't suggest it's some sort of modern mollycoddling. Internet surveillance and helicopter parenting is no substitute for moral leadership and the teaching of values. The idea that kids need constant monitoring is symptomatic of a profound societal cowardice, an abnegation of responsibility for teaching children to be decent human beings.

The solution to bullying isn't constant surveillance of children, it's teaching children how to stand up for themselves and instilling them with a sense of duty to stand up for their peers. It's creating a school community in which bullying isn't something to be swept under the carpet, but something to be fought vigorously. It's leading by example, taking the time to listen to children and treating them with the same respect that you expect them to show others. That's not easy, but it's our duty.


> If a kid is a bully, he's an asshole. He shouldn't necessarily be expelled or even necessarily suspended, but someone needs to make it crystal clear to him that his behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, otherwise he'll grow up to be an asshole and raise his kids to be assholes.

It's not entirely clear that this is true all the time.

I was reading a reddit thread the other day where the subject turned to bullying, people who were bullied, and people who were bullies.

There were several there who seemed sincere in that they claimed they had been bullies, but as they grew up, they grew out of it (some were "young bullies" - aged 8-10 or so, and grew out of it as teens, others were teens and worked it out as they became adults) - but were remorseful about their former actions. Many expressed the wish that they could apologize to those they tormented or hurt. Others noted that they had been able to do that; or noted that they had their bullies apologize to them. Some said it helped, others said that while they appreciated it to an extent, they still kept those people at arms length, as they didn't trust them. Others still mentioned becoming friends (in one case, their bully became their best man at their wedding!).

Yes, this is all anecdotal, and should be taken with a grain simply because "internet/reddit". At the same time, I don't think we can paint these people with a broad brush in either direction.


My words were slightly carelessly chosen, but I think it's reasonable to say "...otherwise he's highly likely to grow up to be an asshole and raise his kids to be assholes". Some people do grow out of it, some people do learn decent behaviour of their own volition, but that's far from guaranteed. I do wonder what proportion of those people who "grew out" of being a bully actually got away scot-free and just changed their ways ex nihilo, and what proportion realised that they were gradually becoming a pariah and decided to sort their act out.

Conversely, I can't think of many people who were genuinely kind and decent children but grew up to become nasty thugs; the only examples that spring to mind involve severe trauma or brain injuries.


> but someone needs to make it crystal clear to him that his behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerate

We've been working with the school following 'proper channels' for some ongoing incidents, and it hasn't been effective even though the school acknowledges the problem and that it is with the other kid involved.

All this focus on bullying is great - but it feels a lot like lip service. They spend huge amounts of time talking about how bullying is not acceptable - but little preventing it from occurring. If it's not acceptable, the school needs to treat it that way.

If they're not (and honestly, I don't think they can - they have limited people, and their primary goal is teaching), then it's up to the students to make clear to their peers that the behavior is not acceptable.

    > The solution to bullying isn't constant surveillance of 
    > children, it's teaching children how to stand up for themselves 
    > and instilling them with the sense of duty to stand up for their peers
We recently told our son that he's welcome to hit back when someone starts bullying him physically - he may get in trouble at school, but we'll support him at home. When 'proper channels' don't work, there's not a lot of options remaining.


>We've been working with the school following 'proper channels' for some ongoing incidents, and it hasn't been effective even though the school acknowledges the problem and that it is with the other kid involved.

All this focus on bullying is great - but it feels a lot like lip service.

Claiming that you don't tolerate bullying is very different to making it clear to the bully that you don't tolerate bullying. A lot of "zero tolerance" policies are really zero tolerance for the appearance of a bullying problem - we'll do literally anything to cover it up, including forcing the victim out of school, but we don't really care whether it's happening.

> We recently told our son that he's welcome to hit back when someone starts bullying him physically - he may get in trouble at school, but we'll support him at home. When 'proper channels' don't work, there's not a lot of options remaining.

Fair and reasonable. A lot of school administrators won't see it that way, but there's a valuable lesson to be had in the value of self-respect and the questionable integrity of many authority figures.

>If they're not (and honestly, I don't think they can - they have limited people, and their primary goal is teaching)

Anecdotally, I think it's a problem of willpower more than manpower. A lot of teachers (and particularly administrators) are far too willing to take the easy option. I was taught by many people who would go out of their way to intervene when they suspected bullying, but many who were all too willing to turn a blind eye if it earned them a quiet lesson or a quiet lunch break. Not all teachers are heroes and I don't expect them to be, but there's a fundamental issue of leadership and culture. If the principal cares more about standardised test results than the wellbeing of his students, that will poison the entire culture of the school.


This is a highly sexist view. Girls are just as merciless, often moreso, but will often stick more to psychological abuse. You can ignore this bullying all you want, but it is the new tactic for a few decades now.

The bully doesn't have to touch their target. They just need to psychologically abuse them until they get a physical reaction out of their target. Then zero tolerance comes in and the target is punished. The bully gets off free and the message is pounded home: You are not allowed to question or react to the bullies cruelty. That is the consequence of their "zero tolerance" and of your sexist viewpoint toward the bullying requiring physical acts.

It is a zero tolerance for victims alone and high tolerance for psychological abuse that is favored by girls.


You can teach your kid to resist psychological abuse. Physical abuse is more challenging - often the only real option is to push back in self-defense, which can be quite problematic.


Resisting mental violence doesn't work. It seeps trough defenses. Kind-of like "Don't think about a Pink Elephant".


> Resisting mental violence doesn't work. It seeps trough defenses.

What? It absolutely does, especially compared to the alternative of not doing it. Your kid must simply internalize the fact that they're trying to get a reaction out of him/her, and that's the only motive behind what they're saying. Oh, and that people who act like that are very unlikely to ever be friendly to you; and in particular, trying to cater to them or to appeal to their humaneness is the worst approach one could take. These things are not obvious to the average kid; they absolutely need to be taught.


> It absolutely does, especially compared to the alternative of not doing it.

Absolutely doesn't compared to eliminating the person afflicting the mental violence.


>Bullying is an all day every day thing with children. Especially boys...

I don't think you've ever been responsible for a group of adolescent girls. Far better than boys, at pretty much every aspect of bullying.


>I don't think you've ever been responsible for a group of adolescent girls. Far better than boys, at pretty much every aspect of bullying.

If your definition of bullying is mostly physical (which is a crappy definition but I digress) boys are way worse.


Bullying seems to be such a massively larger problem these days, compared to when I was in grade school a couple decades ago. Or at least people are hyper-aware of it. I suppose part of it is that it's not really acceptable to turn around and punch somebody in the mouth if they are being an obnoxious shit anymore. If it is just allowed to slide, the harassment escalates over time, especially in an environment like a school where you can't escape forced association. There's much to be said for short, sharp, action to set boundaries.


I think zero tolerance on both parties plays a large part into this.

I was mercilessly bullied in elementary school until I attacked my bully at recess in 6th grade. I’m almost 40 now and it still stands out as a pivotal moment in my growth into an adult. That one action stopped the behavior for good and I wasn’t severely punished for it. It also settled down the kid who bullied me.

I know now that schools can punish victims as severely as the bully, and I think it exacerbates the problem instead of fixing it. The bullies incentives don’t change, but the victim of it has substantially more to fear. Not only from the bully, but the institution itself if they fight back or get goaded into the confrontation.

Frankly, let the children fight it out and allow an environment to develop where children don’t tolerate the behavior and work on conflict resolution themselves.

Overt surveillance by adults isn’t a fix for it, nor is allowing it to develop to a point where a kid brings a gun to school to fix it themselves.

We’ve lost healthy conflict resolution in this country, and yes, physical fighting can be a healthy outlet to solve it.


Parents can probably help here. School is unlikely to punish the bullied for self-defense if a parent threatens a VERY PUBLIC VERY EXPENSIVE LAWSUIT for his kid being punished for self-defense. Actual lawsuit not needed, the treat will likely be enough.

If our legal system provides for self-defense, schools should fall in line.

Yes, I know that enforcing this and finding out who hit whom first is hard, well, nobody said law (or rule) enforcement is easy!


I don’t think it needs to get there.

Schools need to back off the punishment and let the children sort it out and keep eyes on them afterwards. If it continues after the altercation, step in to help mediate, but otherwise we need to be teaching children healthy and constructive conflict resolution so it carries into their adulthood.

Like I said, sometimes this may involve a physical confrontation, but for two children this is healthy in my opinion. I’ve never touched a human being in that manner since, and neither has the person who bullied me, but that fight resolved a littany of issues for both of us.

I understand this isn’t always the case that it can resolve as cleanly, but the way we handle it now with children is plain awful and a disservice to them. Zero tolerance creates an extremely unsafe environment for them. Take it case by case, let them resolve it, help them move on.


There was a case recently where 2 nine year old girls fought in a classroom and the substitute didn’t stop it in time. One girl sustained a head injury that later killed her. There is no way to sanction physical violence in a school setting. Restorative justice is a better solution and teaches kids real problem solving but that requires resources and training.


Again with the dichotomies. Understand that in one microcosm (school) it may have been like that. But in others it might have worked differently. So from one viewpoint, that's the 'only way' things can work. In my experience, it can work differently. I had 3 boys in public school.


> Its popular to create false dichotomies. Like this one.

It's not a false dichotomy, it's a practical issue.

eg > Kids tease each other, they call each other names, they occasionally get into fist-fights, but that's not necessarily bullying

There's no nuance between dominance behavior and bullying. It looks like bullying, regardless if you call it teasing or horsing around. Laws and policies are, in large, black or white. It's not practical to pretend that, because there is a subjective element, that it will be legislated that way.


>I'm shocked how insane and unrealistic the people downvoting this are. I feel so unbelievably bad if any of you have children or vote on any policy that has to do with children. Awful people. Just awful.

If you see people disagree with your opinion and conclude that they're awful people who are unfit to vote or raise children, you might want to spend some time reflecting on whether you're being reasonable.


As hyperbolic as this is, I agree with it. There's no need to constantly monitor people like this and it's realistically "big brother-ish" to do so.

What society, parenting, and/or schooling has failed to catch up with is the increasing pace of technological use by adolescents. No one's set proper societal or social guidelines for it, and the schools themselves haven't a solution/educational program outlining it either. Teaching people how to properly behave hasn't been explicitly stated as an area people need to include. They think that phone, or laptop, or tablet is just a black hole and that it's not "real life" or that another person isn't at the other end of it.

And I'm not talking about online shitposting, extreme satire, or any other elements of actual freedom of expression that may be offensive, but the reality and effects of bullying.

It's a 19th century problem people are trying to correct with 21st century tech, when it's anything but. It's a societal issue, or at work we call them "HR issues".

All this tech is going to accomplish is acclimate students to being watched all the time, and that's not a place I want to live in.


Or 3. don't monitor anyone, but have mechanisms to report and resolve instances of harassment and bullying. Protection doesn't have to be proactive, it's perfectly fine to be reactive in most circumstances.


From what I remember about school, snitching on bullies would be a great way to get bullied more, even more effective than the classic "just ignore the bullies and they'll lose interest".


I'm speechless. This is egregious and unacceptable. I'm thankful this kind of stuff didnt exist when I grew up.


> I'm thankful this kind of stuff didnt exist when I grew up.

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard an adult say this phrase lately, I'd be rich! Did adults used to say this phrase 30 years ago? What are we doing to ourselves and our kids?


I'm sure every generation says it - but working in tech and being a staunch advocate of privacy I can't help but think it really is different this time.

If my thoughts as a kid had been subject to outside scrutiny I don't know if I would have made it this far in life. Maybe I would've been better at hiding, but I think that is extremely detrimental to long term mental health.


It's kinda crazy. We say this - but I suspect we are a minority.

Simply because "we" (some of us - not I) are parents of kids in these systems, but there are other parents of our age with kids in these systems who like them just fine - and I suspect there's more of them.

Otherwise - why would "we" let these systems exist, if "we" are glad they didn't exist back when "we" were in school?

I also suspect that those parents of our age who do support this today would also side with our views as well - if they were presented back when "we" were kids.

But for some reason - I don't know how, why, or when or... - but people seem to somehow forget their past as children. I don't know if this is deliberate (in some cases it might be, possibly for valid or at least rational reasons - such as abuse or whatnot) - or if something else is going on...?

Why is it that "we" (here on HN or elsewhere) can self-introspect and say "wow, I wouldn't have liked this as a kid - so why would I think my kid would like it, or their friends; heck I wouldn't like it myself as an adult" - but a larger majority (it seems) of adults seem to be unable to place themselves back in the shoes of their younger selves?

Are we the strange ones? If it's all about numbers alone, we might be...


Are we the strange ones? If it's all about numbers alone, we might be...

A lot of it is ignorance, I think, not in a derogatory sense but simply not understanding the nature of the technologies now being used, the potential consequences if they are abused or defective, and the other possibilities that might improve the situation. Not everyone is or wants to be a technical expert. Unfortunately, that includes the politicians and lawyers and regulators who are generally charged with helping average people to avoid complex threats they don't understand and can't effectively defend against themselves.

The problem is that in this case, there are also strong motivations for some powerful groups that do understand these technologies to exploit them, from making more profit for big tech businesses to increasing the powers of state intelligence agencies to intrude into ordinary people's lives. Rather ironically, these data-gathering organisations also tend to be unable to see the bigger picture, and without any similarly powerful organisations to challenge aspects of the technology that might be less desirable, politicians just hear about economic growth or better security or whatever other headline benefit, while the steady erosion of everyone's basic rights and freedoms continues.


Yeah, if you’re not involved in this, the only thing you will hear about this new system is:

“We now have a system in place that will alert us to potential school shootings and other dangerous behaviour before it happens.”

Phrased like that it sounds like an indisputably positive thing.


> It's kinda crazy. We say this - but I suspect we are a minority.

I'm not sure I agree there. For example, I've heard stories where parents don't really want their children to use Instagram... however, they also don't want their kids to be excluded. If all other kids are on Instagram, the parents don't want their child to be excluded. It's kind of a trap if all parents feel this way.

I've heard stories of those parents getting together and collectively agreeing that they will all simultaneously ban their children from using Instagram so that no one feels excluded.

So in your example of "we"... it could be that "we" all feel this way, but we need to raise our voices together instead of as individuals.


I believe we’re witnessing fear mongering at work.


My parents lamented the lack of outside-school responsibilities (such as having to raise animals on a farm, both did so) as much as anything else. I think that is a far cry from "limited freedom to leave the house on my own", "digital bullying" (the personal bullying was sufficient, I'm grateful it didn't extend to my time at home), and "authoritative surveillance".

The scope of changes between pre-tech childhood and post-tech is simply huge. Quite possibly unprecedented in history.


What are we doing to ourselves and our kids?

My instinctive reaction whenever I hear the phrase "think of the children" these days is along the lines of "I am thinking of the children, and I don't want them to have to grow up in the world you are trying to create, which is why I disagree with what you're doing".


Chipping in my nickel here... I believe that my life as a kid was easier than what my own kids have now. It was less cutthroat, more forgiving, more free in terms of having chances to learn and explore things on my own. Some of the reasons are inflicted by society and technology, some doubtlessly by their parents (including me).

Stats on things like depression and suicide might reflect this, don't know enough of the details to say for sure.

I don't think my parents felt the same way.


> This is effectvely acclimating our children to minimal privacy as enforced by authoritarian organizations.

The kind of school districts implementing these systems are likely districts with a lot of pro-authoritarian people or at least those kind of people hold a lot of key positions. While it may not be the primary goal, as far as these types of people generally care acclimating children to big-brother is either harmless or a side benefit.


The primary goal is to "Do something about it" it doesn't matter if it works or not, same as in defense, if you company can develop an attractive enough product to secure a contract you're set, again it doesnt really matter if it does what it's supposed to do.


>OK, I think we really need to investigate protecting the privacy of our youth. This is effectvely acclimating our children to minimal privacy as enforced by authoritarian organizations.

There's no privacy when you post things publicly on the internet.


Semantics distract from the point at hand. There's no privacy when you leave your house either, but you still expect people (including school administrators) not to follow you around recording your actions and statements.

There is a reasonable expectation to /not be stalked/ even when conducting yourself in an otherwise public setting. Calling this "privacy" is a loose application of the word, but we never really had the need to come up with another one before the information age made it economical to do this to everyone all the time.


Why are you posting things publicly on the internet if not for other people to read them? If that's the case, what does it matter if a member of the public ends up reading it based on some filter?

That's the difference compared with someone stalking a person. We don't generally go out into public to allow others to follow us.


And I don't generally post things publicly to allow an anonymous authority figure to compare every one of my statements against some hidden criteria of "acceptability", one which is highly likely to be skewed toward preserving the power of the person implementing it.

"A member of the public ends up reading it" is reductionist. The two are more or less technically interchangeable due to the cheapness of digital monitoring, but if you think that's all that matters you're completely missing the point: the issue that you're ignoring is how this is done systematically and with a particular intent. It is not like overhearing a conversation in the park, it like is hiding in the bushes with a tape recorder.

Total observation is socially and politically horrifying, but authoritarians like to take advantage of the fact that we never previously codified norms against it because it was resource prohibitive until the advent of computing.


>It is not like overhearing a conversation in the park, it like is hiding in the bushes with a tape recorder.

It's not like that because people have a reasonable expectation that what they say in a conversation will only be heard by those in that conversation. Tweeting is the real life equivalent of standing on the table and shouting something with a bullhorn. There's no expectation of privacy there.

>Total observation is socially and politically horrifying

It's not "total observation". It's observation of things they explicitly choice to make public.


Once again, there are degrees. When addressing an open audience there is an expectation to be heard by other human beings in a social context; but neither is this an invitation to have one's thoughts algorithmically scraped and profiled and flagged for assessment by a bureaucrat somewhere. Please try to consider this in relation to the goals of natural interpersonal communication, and not under the assumption that everything legal is proper.


> There's no privacy when you post things publicly on the internet.

Though true, there is an important caveat here: These are teenagers. Though their bodies may appear to closer to an adult's than a child's, their brains and expereinces are still only 16 years old. They are still learning. Combine that with Texas' #39 ranking in education [0] and it should come as no suprise that these teenagers are mis-infomed as to what counts and public and what counts as private. Instead of punishment/surveilance, we should perhaps try to teach and be patient.

[0] https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2019/01/21/texa...


> There's no privacy when you post things publicly on the internet.

Arguably, making material posted by children on the internet public without approval of a responsible adult should itself be considered a dnagerous privacy violation, given the history of such material being leveraged for cyberstalking and cyberbullying—not exclusively by school administratoes whose zeal exceeds their judgement and competence, but also by other children and by adults other than school administrators—and also those seeking targets to groom for sexual abuse.


I think it's important to distinguish that many of the things being monitored are not being posted publicly. From the article:

> In 2016, the company expanded that analysis to students' school email accounts, monitoring all messages sent over district networks.

> Gaggle monitors the digital content created by nearly 5 million U.S. K-12 students. That includes all their files, messages, and class assignments created and stored

> "opened a Google Doc, wrote down concerns about a boy in class acting strange, then typed every bad word they could think of"

I can see both sides of monitoring school equipment, or at least maintaining the ability to access it, but I don't believe most people here would consent to active content monitoring of every email, document, message, and drafts of documents even on workplace devices


    OK, I think we really need to investigate protecting the 
    privacy of our youth. This is effectvely acclimating our 
    children to minimal privacy as enforced by authoritarian 
    organizations.

If they're posting publicly, then they're posting publicly. Privacy isn't a thing.

My advice to my son will be don't use social media; if you must use it, don't post publicly on it. If you must post publicly, know that everything you say will be visible forever to _someone_. And post accordingly.


> If they're posting publicly, then they're posting publicly. Privacy isn't a thing.

But in many cases they weren't. That article talks about taking personal photos off of a student's personal device just because they connected it to a school computer for a short time. It included things like nude photos. Now the school has committed child pornography by copying these photos from the student's device. I don't see how anyone can think that's reasonable. Just because I bring a bag with personal letters into the school doesn't mean the school has a right to open those letters, read them, and make Xerox copies of them. It's the same with bringing a personal device to school.


>Now the school has committed child pornography by copying these photos from the student's device...

This is where the law gets kids in way more trouble than is really necessary. There's a little known provision in most child porn laws that exempts people reporting child porn from charges. But think about it, to get that protection, you must report.

So they surreptitiously lift the pics from a kid's phone, and then the alerts go to the police chief, kid's counselor, administrators, etc etc. From there it can make its way to public prosecutors really quickly if calmer heads don't prevail among the adults who got the initial alerts. And calmer heads rarely prevail in my experience. (To be fair, I think most police chiefs may have an actual obligation to let prosecutors know about it? Not sure?)


There's a little known provision in most child porn laws that exempts people reporting child porn from charges.

That doesn't fix the problem. If they're bulk downloading photos from a phone, then most of the photos are going to sit there unexamined. Later on, looking for something else, somebody will stumble upon those photos and discover that they've been sitting there for months or years. But the school hadn't been reporting the crime.


I don't think you're quite getting how a lot of these monitoring systems work. They actually have AI's, (more like expert systems), reading your messages and viewing your images in as close to real-time as possible. These alerts are automated. There is rarely a common sense applying human in the loop...

and that's the problem. Humans are not even engaged in the process until the alerts have gone out. That's not cool. I mean, sure, they get around the problem you bring up, every image is going to get looked at super quickly, but the solution is worse for society than the problem. (At least it is in my opinion.)

So those photos would never sit on the service provider's servers for that long without being examined.


To be fair, I think most police chiefs may have an actual obligation to let prosecutors know about it?

There are groups of people that have a “must report” obligation listed in the law. I cannot remember if it’s state or federal law.


Valid point. I was speaking from the context quoted in SolaceQuantum's comment around public scraping.

It gets murkier with attached devices.

As long as it's made clear to the person attaching the device what data/why is taken (the article doesn't say), it's not entirely unreasonable - you're attaching your device to a foreign network and giving it permission to do what it wants. So it will do what it wants.

But that's a huge qualifier, and I suspect one that wasn't met here.


I disagree. The lesson here is: you teach the students how to protect their anonymity. For example, would you ever sign your name to some rude graffiti/foul language you drew in the boys/girls bathroom stall at school? Of course not! Why is online any different?


You don't need to teach the kids this. They are already moving towards peer-to-peer, encrypted, and ephemeral forms of communication. They also lock their Instagrams, have secondary fake Instagrams (finstas), and obscure their identities.

All the EFF privacy advocates who desperately hope that people will listen to them miss the forest for the trees. The kids are smart. They're adapting. Just like we did.


140 alerts in 8 months is about one alert every 1.7 days.

The Brazosport Independent School District has over 12k students and 800 teachers. I'd expect 12k students are Tweeting and Facebooking hundreds, if not thousands of times a day.

Furthermore, the social media monitoring, according to the article, includes adults from the surrounding community, not just people associated with the school. I can't find population stats for that, but the county that the district is in has a population over over 360k. Adults probably don't Tweet and Facebook as much as kids, but there are probably still hundreds a day from them.

It looks like only a tiny fraction of the posts generate an alert. The alerts come infrequently enough that those who receive them should easily have time to go look at them in context, which should let them quickly dismiss almost all false positives.

I've having trouble seeing what I should be upset about here.


The fact that it is happening at all?

It’s like as if there was a ghostly principal (actually more like an army of officials, according to the post) hovering above us as I was growing up.


Google Apps for Education says hi.


> There are no ads in G Suite for Education core services, and students’ personal information won’t be used to create ad profiles for targeting.[1]

[1] https://edu.google.com/why-google/privacy-security


Ah Clute, Texas. Howdy from Brazosport class of 2002! This is the second article mentioning this area on HN I've seen in the last 3 years or so. The first one mentioned Brazosport as the dropout capital of the entire USA. So I doubt anyone within a 100 mile radius of there has ever heard of HN (but waiting to be proven wrong).

Edit:

I guess to add more context. This is probably an example of a small, underfunded, school district being coaxed into purchasing something it doesn't even need, or the administration doesn't even understand.


The school district I graduated from, around the same time, hired some consultant who used Brazosport, TX as the role model on how to improve their NCLB related standardized test scores. It did not turn out well.


Brazosport (in the mid 1990's) had very good scores on the standardized tests. But that was literally all they taught. And this was the TAAS test which had very little content in it.


This is the straight up propaganda they were selling: https://www.mcall.com/news/mc-xpm-2001-04-01-3363949-story.h... .


Wow talk about nostalgia!

Mrs. Sale was the elementary principal in the 1990's. She was nice, though I never got sent to her office in elementary school. My trouble years started after 5th grade. In 5th grade my teacher was Mr. Davis. The only man teacher in the elementary. There were plenty of rumors going around about how he had the hots for Mrs. Sale. And in the article's date of 2001 and with the new name of Mrs 'Sale-Davis', I guess the rumors were right!

I was a Karankawa in 7th grade and a Mayan in 8th. I never knew what the purpose of the 'pep rallies' were. Just figured it was what all schools did. I don't even know what was talked about, I was just happy to get out of class. Sometimes my buddy and I would try to pick up rocks on the way to the gym to throw at people from the stands. Or a couple of times we'd sneak to the bathroom and hide out there but that was really boring. I did think it was somewhat strange that we organized our grades and classes into Indian tribe names. Gang violence was all around us and it seemed to be an inappropriate parody.

Even more interesting is the resistance in 1992 it speaks of with some teachers quitting over the new ideas. I know in the early 1990's, several teachers and counselors moved from Brazosport to its rival a few towns over 'Brasozwood'. Perhaps that was the reason. I only knew of that because I briefly attended Brasozwood in the 8th grade and later in life found a collection of year books from the two schools and was perplexed that many of the administrators I knew from Brasozwood were listed in the Brazosport year books of the 1980's.

>"Brazosport is unabashed about admitting it teaches to the test."

I guess the question is, "but is that right"?

"I know you're heading to the bathroom to tuck in that shirt," she tells a 10th-grade boy, who smiles widely before ducking into the men's room." <-- heck that was probably me!


Yeah. They forced us to do things like, having seniors in the AP literature class spend 15 minutes of class doing a worksheet on how to use a dictionary.


Schools in certain parts of the US, usually with more unruly students from lower income backgrounds, are pretty much set up like prisons. You can't leave the premises as the exits are heavily guarded, there are cops present, there are various sorts of checkpoints where things are searched. Now it looks like the prison follows you home into your private life where you might be planning something nefarious. It's a bit of a mess.


>Now it looks like the prison follows you home into your private life where you might be planning something nefarious.

Just getting them warmed up for the parole process later on.


I bullied a kid in middle school to the point where he switched classes. Teachers didn’t panick and kick me out, rather they listened to both sides and let us figure it out. We talked and became really good friends, even to this day!

Humans aren’t perfect. I’m not saying bullying is good, but the best solution is not to punishment. I’d certainly spiral out of control and become a monster had I been kicked out.

Scandinavian pedagogy is great!


"the secret [to creating fiction about technology that stays relevant] is basically to assume that people will be really stupid about technology for the foreseeable future."

Cory Doctorow on the anniversary of "Little Brother" https://craphound.com/littlebrother/


I always lose a few magical internet points when I say this, but, if possible, avoid public schools.


And what have we learned about private institutions?

But that leaves us with homeschooling...


Homeschooling has come a long way. It’s a sacrifice, for sure, but far easier now than it was even 20 years ago.


People pick the strangest ways of resisting the system.


Yeah, it is really weird to want to educate your own children.


I see the appeal of that, but I think most of us think that the school experience is necessary for proper socialization of the kids. Personally I think that most schools are akin to prisons in many ways, but they were also the place where I forged some lifelong friendships.


The problem is that the public school environment is not reflective of real social engagement at all. You aren't forced to spend years with the same people without recourse like you are as a child, your time is not controlled as astutely, and your options to disengage with people you don't like is nonexistent.

Its why school bullies often end up totally dysfunctional in adulthood and end up drug addicts, because they can't compel anyone else to be around and stay around them while they are abusive. Some "luck out" and can find someone emotionally damaged enough to exploit, but then they just abuse an already damaged person in near isolation - there isn't a "cool wife beaters club" for them to hang around at the mall with.

You largely get to choose your peers in adulthood. Sometimes that means you have to live somewhere else, find a different job, maybe even move to a different city or state to escape an incompatible culture. But having that choice alone radically changes the dynamic enough that all the "tough skin" and social paranoia you have to develop to survive most public education systems is inapplicable and often harmful to have in adulthood.

Women develop a thick skin just to endure years of spousal abuse. Men don't express themselves and develop deep psychological complexes and overwork themselves to the point of self harm.

The public school environment is a far cry from an optimal environment to develop social skills in. I'd go as far as to argue it contributes somewhat to why the top post on HN right now is an 800 comment thread about pandemic loneliness. You don't get to deviate in public school much - either the authorities will punish it or your peers will ostracize it. And kids learn to cope the same way abuse victims do by suppressing the bad feelings and developing resultant mental illnesses and lifelong emotional complications.


I agree on the prison characterization (in general, not in all cases). The tradeoff is that you have to be more proactive at socialization but there are plenty of opportunities to socialize through extra-curricular activities, co-ops, meeting up with other families during the day, etc. Nothing's perfect. That's the whole point of having options and the freedom to choose what works for you.


Might as well deprive them of normal social interactions and different opinions while you're at it. Personally, I'm glad my country does not allow such nonsense and hubris. Of course, it's a straw man, you can care about your children's education in other ways, and outside of school, too.


It varies depending on circumstances, of course, but the vast majority of homeschooled kids I've met are very well socialized, capable of reasoned debate, and quite well-rounded in their outlook on life. By contrast, in American public schools at least, I'm seeing a serious trend toward unhealthy social interactions, cyber bullying, teachers who only have time for testing, and more. If your country doesn't allow it, you may not have had the chance to observe the difference but it's pretty significant.


> I'm seeing a serious trend toward unhealthy social interactions, cyber bullying

Admittedly the "cyber" part is relatively new, but that's called being a teenager. I'd rather my kids have this learning experience for the future. Me having to help them through it is simply part of being a parent. Especially if it's difficult, there's a learning experience in that.

> If your country doesn't allow it, you may not have had the chance to observe the difference

I've travelled and lived in other countries...

> but the vast majority of homeschooled kids I've met are very well socialized, capable of reasoned debate, and quite well-rounded in their outlook on life

...and I'm pretty sure this is selection bias based on your social circles, and not a universal truth.

Finally, it's bizarre to me that in a first-world country, smart and rich parents have decided the education system is so broken, it needs to be worked around instead of engaging with it and driving change. Seems to be a very selfish attitude: at least my kids are doing fine, and screw other kids who's parents may not have the time or resources to care and improve things.


>Finally, it's bizarre to me that in a first-world country, smart and rich parents have decided the education system is so broken, it needs to be worked around instead of engaging with it

Most homeschooling programs in the USA are (were) heavily religion based. But, in the last 10 years I've seen a growing number of non-religious curriculums that are now available. This clearly shows that neither the religious nor the atheists are happy with the schooling system. There's clearly a problem. And in the same time period (at least in Texas), the standardized testing has increased which leaves schools with less freedom on what to teach as all time must be devoted to what is on the test (which is of questionable content)


That sure is a lot of assumptions and accusations.


Most of the comment was spent explaining the counter-arguments to your own accusations.

Homeschool helicopter-parents have thought that public schools are a dumpster fire for as long as they have existed. Parents absolutely do not have the skills alone to give their children a well-rounded education, period. That some people can even think this could ever be different is a testament to the low quality of education and media in the US.


Show me an accusation I made? I don't see any.

> Parents absolutely do not have the skills alone to give their children a well-rounded education, period. That some people can even think this could ever be different is a testament to the low quality of education and media in the US.

That's why you don't do it alone. You get involved with co-ops, sign them up for classes, use established curricula, and more.


>That some people can even think this could ever be different is a testament to the low quality of education and media in the US.

Exactly - they weren't home-schooled.


Yeah they are nice; they've been trained to be. A lot of their issues though only pop up later in life, like in college. Things like struggling with deadlines, since now teach isn't mom who needs to go shopping and will let you turn in your homework late, or who can be bullied to do so. Or remedial ed; a lot of homschoolers are massively deficient in math, since very few parents can teach it.

There are issues with the ones you don't meet; lax homeschooling regulation and oversight can easily cover for parental abuse, and unschooling can really mess up a kid too.


Many homeschooling programs have a mandatory requirement that includes time spent with other kids in a sort of classroom setting; it's just that this doesn't happen every day, unlike a regular school.

It's not "hubris" to homeschool when your school system is a dumpster fire. We've spent decades trying to improve the schools in some areas, only to see continued decline and often blatant political sabotage that seems to be endemic to the system. What can you do in that case if (a) you care about your child's future and (b) you can't move for whatever reason?


> when your school system is a dumpster fire

let's assume this represents a person's view. then surely, most of society is fucked, and the logical solution is to move to a different country that doesn't have these issues? or do you also see it as a zero-sum game? as in, if society is dumber and my kids are smarter, that's a win? that doesn't ring true in my experience, given that humans are social creatures. or are you simply banking on that they'll be enough people out there and enough separation via social circles to weed out the suckers who had to run this dumpster fire gauntlet?


> the logical solution is to move to a different country that doesn't have these issues

You ignored the second part of my statement: many people don't have the means or skills needed to move to another city, let alone another country, or they are bound to the local area due to caring for an aging parent, etc.

If you are trapped in a difficult situation but your kids have a chance to break free, wouldn't you try to help them take advantage of that opportunity? I think most people would put their own children first, frankly. Not that sending them to a terrible school would help anyone!


Homeschooling has very few actual requirements, and they vary from state by state. Here is a map of them:

https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/homeschool

The majority of the states don't even require the parents to have a high school diploma. Many don't require any assessments, or impose any penalties if they are failed. Eleven states don't even require the parent to notify the state they are homeschooling the child.

The idea of your mandatory requirements is not correct. One of the big dangers of homeschooling is simple fatigue; if the mother gets weary and skips lessons she will face little to no sanction for it.


At the bottom:

> Note: These regulations do not pertain to students taught at home by certified teachers. In some states, private school regulations also apply to homeschools. In others, parents can choose to operate as a private school, but are overseen by accredited private schools and typically face different requirements.

The last part is what I was referring to. As an example, here's Iowa's homeschooling options: https://www.educateiowa.gov/pk-12/options-educational-choice...

They provide this as one option:

> Home schooling with the support of a certified teacher. Home instruction is supervised by a teacher hired by the family or provided by a district’s Home School Assistance program (HSAP).

And this as well:

> Part-time homeschool with part-time enrollment in a school district. The student completes some instruction at home, and participates in a public school for some instruction or extra-curricular activities.

They also allow homeschooling without this kind of support, or attendance in unaccredited schools, which seems troubling. For parents who are not prepared to teach this is obviously an issue; Iowa should probably limit their homeschooling options to those which provide a good education. To me, this is not indicative of a problem with homeschooling per se, but rather a problem with the specific state policy which allows for less-than-adequate homeschooling programs.


You're complaining about an authoritarian public school system, but are replacing it with an even more authoritarian solution. Homeschooling keeps the child under the parent's eye 24-7 and completely captive to their worldview and idea. If that worldview and idea is for them to be "schooled" in helping their dad run his landscaping business, or being prepared to be married off, well, good luck.

Public school is important precisely because it is public. It gets the kid out to realize society exists and to deal with it as it exists. Homeschooling to me is bad because the child is dominated by their parent too much and it's not something that can really be fixed except with great effort by the child later in life.


This is a really dismal view of homeschooling that I don't really understand. Are there bad situations with homeschooling? Absolutely! Are there bad situations in public schools? Absolutely! One is not inherently better than the other.

Maybe myself, my siblings, and our many homeschooled friends are just abnormalities, but we have never had issues embracing society, understanding it, and we never needed to have "fix" our parent's influence later in life. Do I know kids that struggled with that? Sure. You want to know where else I see kids deal with all the issues you mentioned? Public school. Lots of 'em.

I don't know if you were homeschooled as a kid and had a bad experience, know someone who did, or are just spouting the typical "homeschooling is bad! they have no social abilities!" arguments I hear constantly. But I would encourage you to maybe challenge that perspective. Homeschooling can be a wonderful tool and equip kids in ways that public schools are simply not able to. It takes a ton of work. It's not for everyone. But to say it is inherently a lesser education and experience than public schools just doesn't line up.


>Public school is important precisely because it is public. It gets the kid out to realize society exists and to deal with it as it exists.

Perhaps your public school was better than mine, but what I was conditioned into socially while in high school did not line up at all with "the real world".

At the age of 20, after many months of deep thought about my life's direction, I literally realized I needed to throw out everything I learned/was indoctrinated into by the public school and start over. The sad thing is, thanks to facebook, I've looked up many of my old high school buddies. They are still the same. They are 30+ years old now and act like they are still 15. Still playing the same video games, listening to the same kind of music, still showing the same attitudes, still not having any responsibility.

Which is the point I realized when I was 20, why send your teenager into an institution that will condition him/her into acting like a typical teenager? A person with a "teenager" mentality will never be a CEO, will never own a company, will never be successful and will never make wise choices. And why would they? They already know everything and can't be taught a dang thing.

Its clearly a two way street. I've seen some terrible products of homeschooling and I've seen some really good ones. But that brings the question of if the "terrible products" of homeschooling had went to public school, would they have been better off? I've going to assume probably not.


You don't know the opposite though.

The kids that fail are barely educated; they may have fourth grade level math. They end up indoctrinated totally by their parents worldview or unable to function with others. They have no real way to connect with others because there isn't even the shared topic of "public school sucks." CEO isn't an option for them; hell a life apart from their parents barely is.

I think people romanticize it way too much, and there is the HLSDA which really pushes a lot of narratives about it. The blog Homeschoolers Anonymous is inactive, but a good reference on some of the issues.


>You don't know the opposite though.

I've seen good and bad products from both public and non-public. So I don't know what you mean by opposite. The worst case was my own friend's brother whose mother pulled him out of public school after he failed the fourth grade for the 2nd time. She said the school was "full of mexicans" and she'd just teach him herself. But she never did anything... He has been arrested many times for selling drugs, which he did because he could never get a "normal" job as he had no ID or birth certificate (his mom lost all that). Thankfully through prison he learned how to read and do math and he was given a prison ID card which can be used in place of a birth certificate to get an official ID card from the DMV. But he's' still not doing too well... But that's the worst case, and his brother that graduated from public school isn't doing much better.

The point I make is, the parents should know what is best for their own children and they should have their children's best interest in mind. Sure, some don't and or can't but they still need to have options. But as a society of sovereign individuals, this is what we allow. To overreach this area through government regulation will just end up with a loss of rights and a poorer ending (that has already been played out in other countries of the past)


The kind of parents that would object to this and find it a reason to homeschool aren't going to be "follow and don't question authority" kinds of parents.

Your concern for the children of parents who think public school is not authoritarian enough (and the children must stay home and be 'properly reared'), is fair.

But, that's just it. It's an alternative, that can be good or ill.


I don't understand. Are we supposed to know that private schools are also bad?

Private schools are a form of socioeconomic class segregation and there are problems with them, but I would definitely believe that private schools are, by most metrics, better schools.


This is nasty, but the unpleasant truth is that these schools are just rationally responding to public pressure and doing CYA. Every time there's a school shooter, the first thing the parents and media do is dig through his angry Facebook posts and go, "Look at all these red flags! Why wasn't anything done?". Well, now the schools are doing something. It's not the right thing to do, and it's not going to fix anything, but getting angry at the schools isn't going to cause them to change course: they're responding to public demand. You need to start talking to parents and educating them.


Wouldn't increased monitoring also increase their liability when something does go terribly wrong?


My first thought exactly. If the school "knew" about it and dismissed the alerts as a false positive I would have to imagine that opens them up to far greater liability than simply not knowing about the behavior in the first place.


>If the school "knew" about it and dismissed the alerts as a false positive...

Knowing what you know about liability, ask yourself, what are the real chances of the school knowing something and dismissing it as a false positive?

I think if you search your heart you'd probably come to the conclusion that the fact that the school will follow up on every little thing is exactly the problem. Not everyone means "I'd kill for that test answer sheet" when they write "I'd kill for that test answer sheet".


> I think if you search your heart you'd probably come to the conclusion that the fact that the school will follow up on every little thing is exactly the problem.

The issues of school administrator overreach and school district liability for negligence are not mutually exclusive.

> Knowing what you know about liability, ask yourself, what are the real chances of the school knowing something and dismissing it as a false positive?

Knowing what I know about liability and knowing what I know about compliance monitoring systems with high rates of false positives is precisely why I said what I said.

Negligence = known or should have known of X

Efforts to hold schools accountable for shootings have historically been difficult because the plaintiffs must show (1) but for the action of the school, the injury would not have occurred and (2) the injury was a foreseeable result of the school's negligence.

This monitoring system creates actual knowledge of a potential threat where most law suits over school shootings have had to argue the school "should have known" and requires the school to take make a record of their decision for every alert (investigate or ignore).


Teach them early that we don’t live in free societies any more. How else would you go about building tomorrow’s distopia?

We actually need the opposite: we need schools that create educated, crtically thinking individuals that don’t hessitate to work together for thw future.


I think this is just a strategy for moving the Overton window.

"Look what we can do! Instead we opted in for this [vendor] MITM proxy and cameras in each classroom that snoop on your kids' activities! Much less invasive ;)"


I was (and still am) against the monitoring, restriction and limiting of student devices at school. I find it deeply disturbing that children are going to be monitored when they aren't even on school grounds, it's nightmarish. Every day homeschooling my future children looks exponentially better.


if you've ever been to a middle school or a high school as a student, you know that these surveillance systems are probably already being used to crush innocent dissent.

imagine how many times you made a snide remark about a teacher or a principal to your peers in confidence. now, the target of your jeer will know that you're talking shit -- and, much like if they were to overhear trash talk about them in the hallways, they won't tolerate it. and so a bunch of harmless children will be caught in the surveillance net, and punished for normal behavior.

even worse, down the line you can be certain that state actors will gain access to the data sets produced by surveillance. then, in these kids' dossiers, they'll be marked as having anti-authoritarian tendencies as a result of their childhood discussions which were snooped on. throw in a social credit system, and someone may have a childhood remark following them for life.


> if you've ever been to a middle school or a high school as a student, you know that these surveillance systems are probably already being used to crush innocent dissent.

This may sound hyperbolic to some people (my schools were fine), but it is very true that school administration has a tendency to attract petty authoritarians. Who is easier to rule with an iron fist than powerless children?

I sometimes see things like the laptop spying scandal [0] and realize that I was very lucky to avoid these sorts of people as a kid.

[0] https://www.computerworld.com/article/2521075/pennsylvania-s...


It's not clear from the article how the system monitors encrypted social media traffic. Perhaps Twitter as it is public afterward, right? Or does it look for public posts to local groups in Facebook? Or everyone has location tagging on posts on other sites?

How are these companies getting their information to analyze?


They just look at public posts, I guess.

What puzzles me is this:

> Social media monitoring companies track the posts of everyone in the areas surrounding schools, including adults.

Do Facebook, Twitter, etc expose geotags in posts?


I'm wondering the same. There's another company that does the same[0] and probably several more. I know I've read reports of police departments getting more lucrative access into private facebook posts. Perhaps it is the same for a company trying to "help" a school district as well.

0:https://geolistening.com/


I'm not sure if this is what you mean but most of these systems install a HTTPS certificate on the device so they can analyse the data and re-encrypt it.


And how to do that on random mobile devices in the area?


Do any of the naysayers here work in a public capacity- teacher, law enforcement, military/intelligence, etc? Have you ever been solely responsible for the security and well-being of more than, say a half-dozen total strangers? It's a hard problem, a continual tweaking of what we would see as engineering trade-offs, usually performed by people with minimal training, support, or reward who are stuck with the responsibility by default.

Supposedly we're here because we want to apply technology to hard problems- well, here's one of the hardest, and here's how it's been applied so far. Let's have a more reasonable discussion than a bunch of thin-veiled whining about how it will affect our torrents.


I have, yes. However, I don't believe it's always necessary to have experience doing something in order to understand how it works - humans developed pretty well in ways to enable us to share experience with one another.

Anyway, as I see it first we should agree on what exactly the problem is; in this case, it appears this was created to solve the problem of mass shootings in schools.

If that is the problem, this solution goes well beyond what is necessary to solve it. Further, it remains to be seen whether this solution actually works to solve the problem at all.

So you have something that might work but definitely does a bunch of unnecessary things. At best, you have an incredibly inefficient solution and at worst something that actively harms people.


How does it go beyond? The systems discussed either grab public social media, or monitor information created on the schools' machines. I don't know that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy on either.


First, I'd say monitoring profanity, the word 'gay,' mentions of drugs and sex, etc. does not have bearing on the primary issue at hand: gun violence. If you can outline for me how giving a student body principal information on a student setting up a dating profile serves to solve the issue of mass shootings, I'd appreciate it.

Second, the systems discussed pull information from student's phones and directly monitor communication using school email addresses. The former is an issue for obvious reasons and the latter is an issue because you actually should have a reasonable expectation of private communication through mail.

The fact that it is possible for the school to read your mail is immaterial. It is possible for the government to read your mail. The government does not get to do so, despite the many, many crimes committed through the mail and by people that receive mail.


Actually, thinking about it, mass violence is probably secondary in these systems to predicting suicidal behavior. And while you can argue a principal shouldn't have to worry if a kid is bullied into suicide, or whether an underage girl is using a dating site to find external validation, you better believe they'll be the first ones blamed when a 15 year old girl goes missing after meeting a guy on a dating site she accessed during math class.

But I don't know of anywhere that provides you a computer, email address, whatever, without language saying they are for approved use only and can be monitored. From what I read the 'pulling information' was after a device was connected to a computer, most likely caused by school administrators and students not understanding how the system reacts when it sees a new drive attached. This isn't invading kids deepest darkest secrets, like asking them to accept a cacert or whatever.



I was the type of high school student that would deliberately spam profanity and other things that would trigger this system just to spite the administrators. Privacy through obfuscation: when alarm bell rings all the time then the alarm bell becomes meaningless.


I figure the psychological damage will create even more school shooters. shrug


Dang could we possibly get a new title on this? The default one is a bit clickbaity.


Also a link to the non mobile site please



This should be fairly easy to DOS


Not quite as easy as your Jedi Hand Wave-y assertion makes it out to be. Letting the Authorities acclimate children to this sort of environment is dangerous for society.


They could adopt a vocabulary equivalent to Ad Nauseum: "Oh shoot", "this song is my cocaine", "I'm gunning for you".


Only if you aren't afraid of the ridiculous consequences.




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