The Department of Education (DOE) is expressing concern about the potential use of artificial intelligence (AI) systems to conduct surveillance of teachers in classrooms.
In a recently released report titled “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning,” the DOE warned that such surveillance could make teachers’ jobs “almost impossible” and emphasized that AI will not should never replace human teachers.
While acknowledging the potential benefits of AI in improving teaching efficiency and tailoring lesson plans to individual students, the report also highlights the risks of increased teacher surveillance associated with AI implementation .
The report, drawing a parallel with voice assistants in homes, warns that while AI systems can help with tasks, they can also inadvertently access private information. The same dilemma, he argues, could arise in classrooms, posing challenges for teachers.
“When we enable a voice assistant in the kitchen, it can help us with simple household tasks, such as setting a kitchen timer,” the report said. “And yet the same voice assistant could hear things that we wanted to be private. That kind of dilemma is going to happen in classrooms and for teachers.”
“The same data could also be used to monitor the teacher, and that monitoring could have consequences for the teacher,” he said. “Achieving reliable AI that improves the work of teachers will be nearly impossible if teachers experience increased surveillance.”
The Department for Education report underlines its position that AI should never serve as a substitute for human teachers. He strongly rejects the notion of AI replacing educators and emphasizes that AI should complement teachers’ roles as custodians of student learning.
“Some teachers are concerned that they could be replaced; on the contrary, the Department strongly rejects the idea that AI could replace teachers,” the report added. “At no point do we intend to imply that AI can replace a teacher, tutor or educational leader as the custodian of their students’ learning.”
As AI increasingly enters classrooms, the report recommends that policymakers prioritize educator centrality (ACE) in the decision-making process.
“Practically speaking, practicing ‘ACE in AI’ means keeping a humanistic view of teaching at the center,” he said. “ACE makes the Department confidently answer ‘no’ when asked ‘will AI replace teachers?’
The Biden administration’s emphasis on AI systems that respect teacher privacy could reignite political debates about the extent of teachers’ authority over students and parents’ rights to education information of their children Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s recent statements advocating trust in teachers have drawn criticism from prominent Republicans, who argue that parents should have meaningful input into school curricula.
Teachers know what is best for their children because they are with them every day.
We have to trust the teachers.
—Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) May 19, 2023
The Biden administration has also faced scrutiny from Republicans and parent groups after a 2021 memo from the Justice Department urged investigating threats against school administrators and teachers. Although the National School Boards Association later apologized for describing these threats as “domestic terrorism,” Republicans have accused the Biden administration of favoring teachers over parents’ demands for transparency.
“*” Indicates mandatory fields
OPINION: This article contains comments that reflect the opinion of the author.