1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA 94025
Cc: Diane Tavenner, CEO, Summit Public Schools at firstname.lastname@example.org
November 12, 2018
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:
Students at Secondary School For Journalism have suffered and faced many hardships because of the Summit Learning program. We urge you to cancel this program immediately for our 9th and 10th grade students now that it has been dropped for the 11th and 12th grades, and fundamentally redesign it before implementing it in any more schools. On the job postings for the Chan-Zuckerberg LLC, this statement is made:
“We engage directly in the communities we serve because no one understands our society’s challenges like those who live them every day.”
We would appreciate if you engage with us by meeting with us, as well with the students and parents in the other states who are fighting against the Summit Learning system, so you could hear our concerns before implementing it into any other schools.
Unfortunately we didn’t have a good experience using the program, which requires hours of classroom time sitting in front of computers. Not all students would receive computers, the assignments are boring, and it’s too easy to pass and even cheat on the assessments. Students feel as if they are not learning anything and that the program isn’t preparing them for the Regents exams they need to pass to graduate. Most importantly, the entire program eliminates much of the human interaction, teacher support, and discussion and debate with our peers that we need in order to improve our critical thinking.
Unlike the claims made in your promotional materials, we students find that we are learning very little to nothing. It’s severely damaged our education, and that’s why we walked out in protest. See the NY Post article from November 11 for more details: Brooklyn students hold walkout in protest of Facebook-designed online program.
Another issue that raises flags to us is all our personal information the Summit program collects without our knowledge or consent. We were never informed about this by Summit or anyone at our school, but recently learned that Summit is collecting our names, student ID numbers, email addresses, our attendance, disability, suspension and expulsion records, our race, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status, our date of birth, teacher observations of our behavior, our grade promotion or retention status, our test scores and grades, our college admissions, our homework, and our extracurricular activities. Summit also says on its website that they plan to track us after graduation through college and beyond. Summit collects too much of our personal information, and discloses this to 19 other corporations.
What gives you this right, and why weren’t we asked about this before you and Summit invaded our privacy in this way?
After you meet with us, and improve the program with the input of students and parents, we urge you to conduct an independent evaluation of Summit involving students who have given their consent before re-imposing it on thousands of unwilling public school students. We also ask that you give all students the right to consent from now on before collecting their data.
This is important given all the revelations about the numerous times that Facebook has experienced major data breaches and users have had their privacy violated over the past two years. How do we know that our personal information will be any better protected than it has been by you and Facebook in the past?
As the NY Times recently stated, there is a huge class divide, with the children of the wealthy having small classes and real personalized learning in schools that minimize screen time, while public school students like us are expected to learn by a computer in front of our faces for hours at a time with an educators only there to “facilitate”.
As one parent said, “These [ed tech] companies lied to the schools, and they’re lying to the parents…Our kids, my kids included, we are subjecting them to one of the biggest social experiments we have seen in a long time.” We refuse to allow ourselves to be experimented on in this way.
Akila Robinson and Kelly Hernandez, student leaders at the Secondary School of Journalism