Monday, May 14th, 2012
A standardized test given to New Jersey third-graders will no longer include a question that asks students to reveal a secret and write about why it was difficult to keep. NBC News reports that the school board decided to remove the question after parents voiced concern that the question was intrusive and inappropriate:
“We’ve looked at this question in light of concerns raised by parents, and it is clear that this is not an appropriate question for a state test,” [Department of Education spokesman Justin] Barra said, adding that about 4,000 students in 15 districts had the question.
Marlboro dentist Richard Goldberg was among the parents who had raised concerns about the question.
Goldberg said he was appalled when he asked his twin 9-year-old sons about the standardized tests they were taking and they told him about the question. He said he felt it ventured into topics that would best be kept quiet and it could raise some serious complications, so he wasn’t surprised to hear the state decided to eliminate it from future tests.
“I got a lot of feedback from parents who also were outraged” about the matter, Goldberg told Neptune’s the Asbury Park Press newspaper. “All of a sudden now you have thousands and thousands of children possibly revealing things that now these people have to report, when the purpose of the exam was to see what the children’s critical reading skills were.”
Image: Students taking test, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
A “kid-driven future of play and learning” is the call Rex Ishibashi, CEO of Callaway Digital Arts made this morning at The Sandbox Summit at MIT. Callaway makes mobile storybook apps featuring Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, and other beloved children’s characters.
Ishibashi’s observation from within the kid’s media industry is that regulations and privacy concerns, while important, are crowding out innovations that could help children learn more using technology.
“If we can’t help kids, perhaps we can provide them with safe tools where they can help themselves,” Ishibashi told the audience of educators, software developers, and entrepreneurs.
His proposal is that companies should prioritize ways to provide “safe social” for kids, allowing children under age 13 to participate in the flow of innovation and creativity available on the Internet and through social media, without violating their basic privacy. Parents, he argued, have become so concerned with protecting kids’ privacy that they have built a “mile-high cyclone fence” around their children, cutting them off from their full potential to engage with technology, feel involved in its future, and generate content for it.
If done right, Ishibashi argued, technology can serve both the 21st century kids who crave companionship, entertainment, and engagement, and the “digital parents” who want to give their children trustworthy, developmentally appropriate tools for learning.
Image: Computer privacy, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
A lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Minnesota has sparked a debate over whether schools can demand to know a child’s Facebook password to investigate allegations of bullying or inappropriate language. MSNBC.com reports on the case, which involves a 12-year-old middle school girl who has not been named in the lawsuit:
According to the ACLU’s version of events, the girl had moved and entered a new school as a 6th-grade student in the fall of 2010. In early 2011, she felt targeted by a school monitor and posted an update to her friends-only Facebook wall saying she “hated” the monitor because “she was mean to me,” using her own computer and while off campus.
Soon after, she was called into the principal’s office — he had obtained a screen shot of the post — and given detention.
The student subsequently posted another update to her page related to the incident: “I want to know who the f%$# told on me,” the complaint says. Again, she was called to the principal’s office, and this time was suspended for “insubordination” and banned from a class ski trip.
In March, the student had a second run-in with school authorities. The parent of another student had complained that the girl was talking about sex with that student. The 12-year-old was called out of class by a school counselor and eventually brought into a room with several school officials and the sheriff’s deputy, where the password demands began.
The ACLU claims that the school never asked the girl’s parents for permission to examine her private Facebook space. The school district doesn’t dispute that it obtained the girl’s password, but does say it had parental permission.
Image: Keyboard, via Shutterstock.
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