Tag Archives: Facial Recogniton in schools

Is Facial Recognition Necessary in Our Schools?

“Recently, a school district in New York adopted the [facial recognition] technology in the name of safety. Opponents cite privacy and bias concerns.” D. Alba, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Facial Recognition Moves Into a New Front: Schools, By Davey Alba, The New York Times

SPmemory via Getty Images

 

“Jim Shultz tried everything he could think of to stop facial recognition technology from entering the public schools in Lockport, a small city 20 miles east of Niagara Falls. He posted about the issue in a Facebook group called Lockportians. He wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times. He filed a petition with the superintendent of the district, where his daughter is in high school.

But a few weeks ago, he lost. The Lockport City School District turned on the technology to monitor who’s on the property at its eight schools, becoming the first known public school district in New York to adopt facial recognition, and one of the first in the nation. The district, said Mr. Shultz, 62, ‘turned our kids into lab rats in a high-tech experiment in privacy invasion.’

The decision underscores how facial recognition is spreading across the country and being deployed in new ways in the United States, as public officials turn to the technology in the name of public safety.

A few cities, like San Francisco and Somerville, Mass., have barred their governments from using the technology, but they are exceptions… Schools are a newer front, and the debate that took place in Lockport encapsulates the furor surrounding the technology.

The Wall Street Journal

Proponents call it a crucial crime-fighting tool, to help prevent mass shootings and stop sexual predators.  Robert LiPuma, the Lockport City School District’s director of technology, said he believed that if the technology had been in place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the deadly 2018 attack there may never have happened…’Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces,’ said Stefanie Coyle, deputy director of the Education Policy Center for the New York Civil Liberties Union… The debate in Lockport has unfolded over nearly two years. The school district initially announced its plans to install a facial recognition security system, called Aegis, in March 2018… The state wanted Lockport to make sure that students’ data would be properly protected, and demanded a policy that would forbid the use of student data, including their photos.

In January, the school board unanimously approved the latest policy revision. When the system is on, Mr. LiPuma said, the software looks at the faces captured by the hundreds of cameras and calculates whether those faces match a ‘persons of interest’ list made by school administrators. That list includes sex offenders in the area, people prohibited from seeing students by restraining orders, former employees who are barred from visiting the schools and others deemed ‘credible threats’ by law enforcement…The technology will also scan for guns. The chief of the Lockport Police Department, Steven Abbott, said that if a human monitor confirmed a gun that Aegis had detected, an alert would automatically go to both administrators and the Police Department…Days after the district announced that the technology had been turned on, some students said they had been told very little about how it worked.

‘I’m not sure where they are in the school or even think I’ve seen them,’ said Brooke Cox, 14, a freshman at Lockport High School. ‘I don’t fully know why we have the cameras. I haven’t been told what their purpose is.’  Others, like Tina Ni, 18, said the new technology and the news coverage of her school were ‘cool.’ Critics of the technology, including Mr. Shultz and the New York Civil Liberties Union, point to the growing evidence of racial bias in facial recognition systems.

In December, the federal government released a study, one of the largest of its kind, that found that most commercial facial recognition systems exhibited bias, falsely identifying African-American  and Asian faces 10 to 100 times more than Caucasian faces. Another federal study found a higher rate of mistaken matches among children…Jason Nance, a law professor at the University of Florida who focuses on education law and policy, warned that listing students as ‘persons of interest’ could have unintended consequences.

‘If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily,’ he said, which could lead to a higher likelihood that they could enter into the criminal justice system…Opponents of the new technology now pin their hopes on state lawmakers. In April, Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, a Democrat from Lancaster, introduced a bill that would force Lockport to halt the use of facial recognition for a year while the State Education Department studied the technology. The bill easily passed in the Assembly but was not taken up by the Senate.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Have  students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. He filed a petition against the school.
  2. This is the first school to adopt facial recognition.
  3. The decision underscores how facial recognition   is spreading across the country.
  4. Facial recognition is being deployed in new ways in the United States.
  5. Schools are a newer front, and the debate encapsulates the furor surrounding the technology.
  6. Proponents call it a crucial crime-fighting tool.
  7. Many agree that we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces.
  8. In January, the school board unanimously approved the latest policy revision.
  9. The software looks at the faces captured by the cameras and calculates whether those faces match a ‘persons of interest’ list.
  10. If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily.

Grammar Focus: English Pronouns

Directions:  Students choose the correct Subject pronouns to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they.

Jim Shultz tried everything___could think of to stop facial recognition technology from entering the public school. ___wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times.  ___filed a petition with the superintendent of the district. But a few weeks ago,___ lost.  A few cities, like San Francisco and Somerville, Mass., have barred their governments from using the technology, but___are exceptions. Robert LiPuma, the Lockport City School District’s director of technology, said ___believed that if the technology had been in place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the deadly 2018 attack there may never have happened. ___had an expelled student that would have been put into the system, because ___were not supposed to be on school grounds. ___ snuck in through an open door. ‘Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and___can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces,’ said Stefanie Coyle, deputy director of the Education Policy Center for the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  “The district,turned our kids into lab rats in a high-tech experiment in privacy invasion.”

“You had an expelled student that would have been put into the system, because they were not supposed to be on school grounds. They snuck in through an open door.'”

“Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces.”

“I’m not sure where they are in the school or even think I’ve seen them. I don’t fully know why we have the cameras. I haven’t been told what their purpose is.”

“The new technology and the news coverage of her school were cool.”

“If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily,” he said, which could lead to a higher likelihood that they could enter into the criminal justice system.”

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Have you ever used any kind of facial recognition technology (e.g.,  to verify your identity at the airport or unlock your smartphone or computer?
  2. Do you feel safe in your school? If you are a parent, do you feel that your children are safe in their schools? What safety measurements are currently in place in the schools?
  3. In your opinion what are the benefits of facial recognition in schools?
  4. What are some drawbacks to using this technology in schools?
  5. According to the article Assemblywoman Monica Wallace states, “We all want to keep our children safe in school. But there are more effective, proven ways to do so that are less costly.”
  6. Can you think of other ways to make schools safe without resorting to facial recognition?
  7. List any new ideas that you have learned from this article.

 

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY