Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Lisa Railton
on January 28, 2022

With growing concerns about the increase in student surveillance—especially during the pandemic—and how this data is stored and used, just how secure are today’s students? Gaggle founder and CEO Jeff Patterson recently joined Jenn White on 1A, an NPR program, to discuss the digital monitoring of students’ activity along with Mark Keierleber from The 74 and Elizabeth Laird from the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). 

During this insightful segment, Laird shared findings from a 2021 CDT study, in which 81% of teachers reported that their school uses some form of monitoring software. Laird noted the dramatic increase in schools providing devices as a result of the pandemic, asking, “What is the privacy implications of this? And are there unintended consequences of bringing a really extraordinary number of students online who previously didn’t have access to that before?” Laird also stated that the parents and teachers who were surveyed did see the value in monitoring software when it came to school and student safety, but questioned whether the most vulnerable students were being disproportionally impacted. 

When asked about ensuring students are monitored equitably, Patterson stated “The goal [of Gaggle] is to find any indication of a child in crisis so that a tragedy can be prevented. It’s really designed to help all children.” He also recalled a tech director who once told him, “I don’t purchase Gaggle for the bad kids, I purchase it for the sad kids.”

Several educators also shared their thoughts on this subject during the segment. One assistant principal emailed the program stating, “With the number of shootings this country sees … schools need all the tools they can get to prevent more violent ends. The purpose is not to violate privacy—it’s to protect students and teachers.” In another email, a director of IT shared, “There have been many searches that have made us laugh over the years, but we had some serious ones as well that needed adult intervention, and I’m glad we had a tool to help us do so.”

Last year, Gaggle demonstrated a firm commitment to protecting student privacy by signing Pledge 2020, a Student Privacy Pledge from the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software & Information Industry Association that challenges companies to follow the latest and most stringent data privacy best practices. Gaggle adheres to all relevant federal privacy laws, including the Children’s Internet Protection Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. 

Gaggle and our K-12 district partners are united around one shared goal: to help keep all students safe. That includes protecting students’ personal information as well as preserving the trust and responsibility that comes with the sensitive nature of our work. To learn more about how Gaggle handles student data privacy, please read our Student and Staff Data Privacy Notice

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