In October 2007 I wrote:
[M]any administrators dispense with students' 4th Amendment rights in the name of 'safety.' They know what the law says, but community pressures or perceived dangers outweigh Constitutional rights. Many of these administrators are in schools with no history of violence or threats. But Columbine freaked everyone out – if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere – so anything goes when it comes to student rights.
The zealous electronic monitoring of P-12 students and teachers continues. Some is legal, some is not. The use of webcams to monitor students at home without their or their parents’ knowledge is likely illegal. The use of Web monitoring and/or keylogging software to keep track of teachers’ online usage is likely legal, although it fosters a culture of employee distrust. Complicating all of this is school organizations’ obligation to ensure environments free of bullying and sexual harassment.
Too many administrators – driven by spurious media reports, parent anxiety, desires for control and order, and a natural tendency to avoid controversy and cover their asses bases – are all too willing to sacrifice educational opportunities and/or essential liberties in the name of ‘safety.’ Of course we pay a cost for this, one that isn’t discussed nearly enough.
It is unclear at what point we will say, “Enough!” Right now the end to this is nowhere in sight. I’m afraid we’re going to look back one day and ask, “What have we done to ourselves in the name of safety?”