No More GoGuardian @ RTHS
No More GoGuardian @ RTHS
Why this petition matters
GoGuardian is used to connect all computers in a particular group to one network. RTHS is implementing it as a chrome extension on school-issued email accounts, however, the PCs it will be on are not school-issued. There are many reasons why this is not only not okay, but harmful, and even detrimental to the development of students in our high school. As a senior at RTHS myself, I understand the importance of our past commitment to developing independence, and I believe GoGuardian will only hurt the school's commitment to this independence.
Administration and teachers may argue that having access to students' screens and having a certain level of control over them can aid in keeping the student focused on the given assignment. However, this is not true. In reality, if a student is distracted by something on their laptop, that shows that they are likely easily distracted, meaning that if the distraction on their laptop were removed they would simply be distracted by something else instead. There is little to no proof that controlling students' online activity during school hours actually benefits their learning or their safety.
Teachers and administrators also argue that it helps them to keep the student population safer. They use this software to "detect aggression" in students' voices, "Scan students' screens for potentially inappropriate words and images" and automatically block sites and apps that the software believes to be malevolent.
My argument, however, is this. Using software like this is not only a flagrant violation of a student's privacy but it was also implemented to help the school abide by the requirements of the "Children's Internet Protection Act"(CIPA), which the school already abided by. CIPA does not stipulate having access to seeing a student's screen nor being able to control their computer. CIPA states that the school must "monitor... online activities of minors". This does NOT mean the school is in any way required to watch what we do on our devices at any given moment during the school day. RTHS is said to be using GoGuardian to protect students from cyberbullying, and harmful online content, and to keep students more "scholarly" and paying better attention in class. As I stated previously, there is no scientific research or proof that shows that monitoring and controlling online activity during the school day reduces cyberbullying or the threat of danger to or from a student. I have linked several websites below that talk about this if more detail is necessary. On top of this, the school failed to contact students or parents prior to implementing this software. While it may not be in use yet, it was installed on our chrome profiles, on our personal computers, without our knowledge nor our parents' knowledge. While this may not be explicitly illegal, it is completely immoral.
On to my second point, this does not benefit students going on into the rest of their life, into college, into the workforce, or wherever a student goes after high school. The primary purpose of high school, outside of providing an education, is to prepare students to be adults and live in the outside world and be independent. Not only is this a goal of all high schools, but this is a core belief in our school's system. RTHS has in the past attempted to provide students with as much independence as possible without compromising the students' education. Installing software like GoGuardian on all of our devices, or even just our laptops, it is not teaching independence, it is teaching students that they can't trust figures in their life that they should be able to trust. It shows students that their teachers do not trust them to make their own decisions or take responsibility for their own mistakes. If a student chooses to slack off in class despite the existing measures to discourage that, they are responsible for taking the consequences that come with that. The entire point of teaching a student to be independent is so they can go into the real world where people won't be forcing them to do anything, recommendations will be made, and they will be given orders, but they will not be monitored at every turn to confirm they are indeed doing as they were told. If an employee in a workplace is not pulling their own weight, they will be talked to, and fired if that behavior continues. That is what it is to be independent and take responsibility for one's own mistakes. EFF Associate Director of Research Gennie Gebhart said, “Being under constant surveillance at home and school teaches kids to accept that people they should trust are spying on them—and that’s a lesson that will serve them poorly in later life". This summarizes my argument very well. Being constantly monitored at school not only increases anxiety, even when students are not doing anything wrong, but it teaches people not to trust anyone, even people they've been taught they should be able to trust.