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Guest Thinkers

Legal obligations re: technology

[cross-posted at The Gate]

Someone recently sent me the following quote from a school administrator

(regarding legal concerns related to technology initiatives):

The school district is legally obligated to protect our students

from the outside. It is not legally obligated to prepare them

for the outside.


On its face, this statement gives precedence to legal concerns over whatever

moral, professional, and/or ethical responsibilities schools have to prepare

students for their future. This statement elevates CYA thinking over social

justice concerns about technology


and workforce


for disadvantaged students. This statement is reactive, not

proactive, at a time when we desperately need forward-thinking school leaders.

Since when did schools not have a legal and societal mandate to provide an

adequate education for students? As

Kagan notes

, every state’s constitution requires the state to provide its

children with an ‘adequate’ education. Every community expects its local schools

to prepare kids to be competent, functional adults in American society. How well

do you think the ‘we don’t have a legal obligation to prepare your children

for the world

‘ argument is going to play with parents and politicians?

We can reasonably disagree about the qualitative definition of what

constitutes an ‘adequate education’ (e.g., we’ve seen this play out in both the



and special


arenas). But as people become increasingly aware that the Internet

and digital technologies are necessary requirements for most adults’ productive

lives and careers, this administrator’s statement that technology doesn’t fall

under schools’ legally-required mandate to provide an adequate education for

students is going to become increasingly unpalatable.


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