“I herewith specifically do NOT give consent to the use of goguardian on my son’s devices! Coming from a cultural background with back-to-back totalitarian regimes empowered by spying and denunciation, I am very sensible to the topic of personal privacy. The idea that teachers, BOE staff, IT administrators and who knows who can go through and record my son’s search histories is mind-boggling! I object!”
That’s Montclair parent Boris Schaefer who, in an email to Montclair Public Schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds, objects to the district’s installation on all school-owned devices of a product called GoGuardian. The product’s website boasts that teachers can “eliminate unwanted distractions” by givng them access to alll students’ online activities, check their browsing histories, and collect all the data for the school system. Montclair Local reports that it has received “multiple messages” from parents and students who are “worried about privacy” and notes that students who don’t need district devices won’t have to be subjected to district monitoring.
Montclair parents aren’t the only unhappy ones.
A parent in Las Vegas calls GoGuardian “spyware.” Larry Magid of Forbes praises the software for being able to monitor students who might be at risk of suicide but warns, “when a student uses a school-issued computer to research health issues or access information about contraception or abortion or explore or express opinions about politics or religion, which may be none of the school’s business.” Closer to home, student at Colonia High School in Central Jersey says “GoGuardian is downright disturbing and overpoweringly invasive even after school hours.”
Superintendent Jonathan Ponds pointed out that other surrounding districts use GoGuardian too, including Millburn, Livingston, South Orange-Maplewood and Orange.
Montclair Public Schools is currently entirely remote. The district has sued the teachers union for failing to report for the district reopening in mid-January, calling the action ““an illegal strike…which prevents the public school district from educating its students in person as required.” For background, see here.