School administrator boasts to PBS about his laptop spying

Scott sez,

A few weeks ago, Frontline premiered a documentary called "Digital Nation". In one segment, the vice-principle of Intermediate School 339, Bronx, NY, Dan Ackerman, demonstrates how he "remotely monitors" the students' laptops for "inappropriate use". (his demonstration begins at 4:36)

He says "They don't even realize we are watching," "I always like to mess with them and take a picture," and "9 times out of 10, THEY DUCK OUT OF THE WAY."

He says the students "use it like it's a mirror" and he watches. He says 6th and 7th graders have their cameras activated. It looks like the same software used by the Pennsylvania school that is being investigated for covertly spying on students through their webcams.

The shocking thing about this is that the privacy concerns were not even mentioned in the Frontline documentary!

This is pretty amazing footage -- especially (as Scott notes) the absence of any questions about student privacy from the interviewer. I keep trying to imagine what my education would have been like if all my conversations, reading, doodling, writing, etc, had been monitored, in real time, by my teachers. I had great teachers, and I trusted them and confided in them and they taught me well. But if they had had this degree of oversight into my every personal detail, I think it would have killed any intellectual curiosity, any trust, any real learning. What kind of educator thinks that this is a good practice? Certainly no teacher's union I know would put up with principals and administrators putting this kind of surveillance into their lives.

I don't know for sure, but I have a suspicion that being a kid today would absolutely suck.

How Google Saved A School (Thanks, Scott!)