How Military and Corporate Advertisers Are Hoping to
January 28, 2018 Cooper Hedger and Pat Elder / World Beyond War & Cooper Hedger / Change.org
SkoolLive's interactive electronic kiosks bring advertising into schools where kids are offered up as a captive audience for a stream of commercial advertising and invited to engage in personal data-trolling. SkoolLive kiosks are making it much easier for the military and corporate America to circumvent federal privacy laws designed to protect children at school. These profit-seeking electronic intruders are an affront to American public education.
SkoolLive Screens Cause Controversy in Arizona and Beyond Cooper Hedger and Pat Elder / World Beyond War
(January 24, 2018) -- Andrea Falcone and Marina Valenzuela were early for Biology class at Perry High School in Chandler, Arizona on a crisp desert morning last fall. To pass the time, the girls watched the 6-foot SkoolLive screen in the hallway that resembles a giant I-phone.
Normally, the screen displays a slow-moving video of advertisements and school calendar items, like the dates and locations for the next cheerleader practice, or when class rings will be available. In the meantime, video feeds include advertisements from a variety of sponsors. Students are prompted to enter personally identifiable information in response to various promotions by corporate and military sponsors.
Today, Andrea and Marina couldn't believe what they were seeing.
The screens regularly display photos and names of students in high schools across the country who have uploaded their information onto SkoolLive kiosks: "Hannah Tudor, Murrieta Valley High School," or "Trent Bean, Great Oak High School, Temecula, CA."
The interactive screens apparently allowed students to display obscene images. Students displayed names like "D***less The Clown" and "Monkey F*****"), and a meme showing a bud of marijuana with the title, "Light up!" You may need to Google "Respect Thots" and "Phat Milf" to understand the obscenities shown on the screen below.
Andrea and Marina knew what it meant, and they were astonished.
This isn't simply child's play and we cannot write it off as an example of youthful indiscretion. This activism is motivated by a rejection of the commercialization of high schools and a concern for student privacy rights, as we'll see below.
SkoolLive's kiosks are an affront to American public education. Presumably, these obscene items were broadcast by Skoollive to the 71 newly-installed kiosks in 38 schools throughout Arizona, as well as to SkoolLive screens in high schools across the country. The company reports it has agreements with more than 2,000 schools in 27 states and intends to triple that number.
SkoolLive's system is simple enough for high school "hackers" to penetrate. It is relatively easy for kids to work around the security and filtering systems. Students apparently can create unfiltered profiles of photos and descriptions that appear on kiosks around the country.
Privacy activists are alarmed by the presence of these interactive kiosks. After all, federal law says schools cannot release private information about children without first seeking parental consent.
SkoolLive is making it much easier for the military and corporate America to circumvent federal privacy laws designed to protect children at school. Advertisers, like the one shown above, (Text STEP to 83838) prompt students to text messages to marketers who typically collect additional information from the kids.
Students have been able to upload QR Codes on to the SkoolLive stream of video, which is then shown on various kiosks across the country. The one below, uploaded by Hedger, represents a kind of revolutionary teenage digital coup.
Students in the hallway are invited to scan the QR code using their I-phones. When they do, they arrive at a petition on Change.org calling for the kiosks to be removed. The petition has gathered 121 signatures since it was uploaded 6 months ago.
Here's what it says: Remove SkoolLive from Chandler Unified School District
* * *
Student is counting on you!
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Student Protection needs your help with
"Remove SkoolLive from Chandler Unified School District"
Join Student and 120 supporters today."
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SkoolLive -- An interactive digital invasion
of our high schools by corporations and the military.
Among the advertisers "targeting" the young -- the Pentagon's recruiting office.
Brilliant Activism or Childish Prank?
During the summer of 2017, SkoolLive machines were installed in several high schools in the Chandler Unified School District, including Perry, Basha, Hamilton, Casteel, and Chandler High School. Chandler is about ten miles southeast of Phoenix. Some were alarmed by the invasion of privacy rights. They thought that high schools should be a kind of refuge from commercialism.
SkoolLive brings advertising into schools, where kids are a captive audience and can't turn it off." Monahan continued, "They have a bogus sales pitch that schools need a better way to communicate with students." He said, "SkoolLive is also violating students' privacy."
Monahan continued, "They're not being up front about what information they collect about students and how they use and share it. And all for pennies back to the school. It's a bad deal for schools and their students."
Jim Metrock heads up Obligation.org, a public interest group that also opposes commercialism in schools. "A captive audience of school children is very attractive to advertisers," he said. "This is taxpayer-funded school time, and it doesn't make sense that companies can buy time to have with students."
Not surprisingly, SkoolLive exploits their access to the captive children and tells prospective advertisers, "Our on-campus access gives your brand an opportunity to connect with a captive student audience on a daily basis . . . through static messaging, video placement or interactive campaigns."
Captive student audience? They're our children! This is despicable public policy.
The scheme has not been a big money-maker for the Chandler School District. A district representative stated that the district has made "about $120" to date, meaning each kiosk has made on average, four dollars in the last 6 months.
SkoolLive officials apparently told Chris Marczak, assistant superintendent of Oak Ridge High School in Tennessee, the company had estimated each kiosk could generate between $2,000 and $5,000 monthly for each of its schools.
SkoolLive markets the interactive capability of the kiosks to its clients as a way for students to access more information about a particular sales pitch. Need to know more about purchasing high school rings or yearbooks? "Click here." Want to leave your contact info for an advertiser to get in touch? "It's simple!" Want to know more about jobs in the Army or how to find out more about taking the military's enlistment test? "Fill in your contact information and we'll get right back to you!" The military also uses popular contests on SkoolLive to generate leads.
Defend student privacy! Shut down SkoolLive across the country.
Cooper Hedger (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a student at Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona. Pat Elder is the Director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, www.studentprivacy.org
CHANDLER, Arizona (January 27, 2018) -- SkoolLive LLC. is an advertising company that owns, operates, and sells large interactive billboards to schools all across the United States. Over the summer, these billboards, called kiosks by SkoolLive, were installed on the walls of several high schools in Chandler Unified School District, including Perry, Basha, Hamilton, Casteel, and Chandler High School.
SkoolLive has caught the attention of several advocates for education and student rights, such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, American Civil Liberties Union, and StudentPrivacy.org. The majority of which heavily criticize the self-proclaimed third party advertising company for scamming both students and schools across the nation, through the monetization of children and education throughout CUSD.
As campaign manager David Monahan from Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, describes, "Schools should be about learning, not marketing. SkoolLive brings advertising into schools, where kids are a captive audience and can't turn it off, with a bogus sales pitch that schools need a better way to communicate with students."
In an effort to learn about why and how the halls had been converted to ad space, research on SkoolLive was initiated with questions to the appropriate officials regarding its origins in the Perry and several other high schools in CUSD. It was soon realized that nobody questioned in the school seemed to be able to identify how exactly the kiosks got here.
Administration directed the search to the school's student government, who circled investigations back to the district. The contract between SkoolLive and CUSD revealed the signature, Frank Fletcher, the district's Associate Superintendent for Support Services. At this time, Fletcher has yet to comment on SkoolLive's involvement with CUSD.
Further examination of the contract led to multiple cases of SkoolLive's considerable violation of district policies, as well as state laws.
For example, CUSD policies book states the content of the kiosk "shall not be released . . . without the approval of the principal" via the Request to Distribute Material application. Due to the kiosks operating on the SkoolLive network and not regulated by schools, students are given the ability to create unfiltered profiles that appear on all kiosks, leading to some students displaying names (such as "D***less The Clown" and "Monkey F*****"), or images of marijuana and other obscene imagery.
When asked about SkoolLive, Pat Elder of StudentPrivacy.org revealed that SkoolLive has been known to collect names and phone numbers from kids through U.S. Army promotions in which students are asked to enter their name and phone number as entry into a raffle and possibly receive a prize.
This, according to Elder, "violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)" as well as potentially "Section 8025 of the Every Student Succeeds Act, (ESSA)". Elder also points out that "parents are supposed to be given the right to 'opt-out' of having information released to the military from the schools about their children. It seems SkoolLive is able to circumvent the federal law on this."
The school district has responded negatively to the investigation through various forms of denial, threats, and disciplinary actions. Many school administrators have claimed that it benefits our schools as a way to generate funds.
Although, according to the contract between SkoolLive and the district, the CUSD is to make 20% of "net revenue", meaning schools don't make any money until SkoolLive uses the district's profits to pay for "all costs of promotion/content production, server fee, software licensing fee, sales commission, kiosk supply and maintenance, overhead, taxes, and similar expenses" and SkoolLive takes 80% of whatever is left over.
A district representative stated that CUSD has made "about $120" to date, meaning each kiosk has made on average, four dollars in the last 6 months. According to electricity rates from Arizona Public Service, each 200-watt kiosk costs about three dollars a month for the district to power.
This means that overall, each kiosk has actually lost over two dollars a month. Considering there are about 15 SkoolLive kiosks in the district, in the last 6 months, CUSD has lost over $200 from installing the kiosks, and poses to lose around $420 annually.
It is pertinent that public knowledge of SkoolLive and their actions be expanded and stressed. It is not only the right of each student to know about what is going on in their school, but also that of every faculty member, student, and parent of every school.
It is our duty to hold public schools accountable for the safety of their children and for this, they must be informed of what is going on within the walls of not only high schools within the Chandler Unified School District, but the country as well.
Monahan abstracts, "SkoolLive is also violating students' privacy, not being upfront about what information they collect about students and how they use and share it. And all for pennies back to the school. It's a bad deal for schools and their students." Does Your School Still have Channel One News? ACTION: Learn How to Unplug
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