LAS VEGAS—The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada today called on Gov. Steve Sisolak to fulfill the state’s legal obligation to provide educational opportunities equally to all. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis, but that does not absolve the state of its duties.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that the opportunity of an education is a right that “must be made available to all on equal terms.” While the rapid movement towards remote learning during this crisis reflects a good faith effort to educate students, in practice, it also represents a significant failure to deliver such an education on equal terms.
In a letter sent to Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday, the ACLUNV also called on him to enact strict privacy requirements to protect Nevada students and families using remote learning technologies and services.
ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story said:
“The current state of affairs in which remote learning is fully accessible to some students, partially accessible to others, and inaccessible to many, is not only unacceptable, it is unlawful. Governor Sisolak must act quickly, decisively, and with every resource at his disposal to ensure Nevada’s students receive the equal educational and privacy rights to which they are entitled.”
Computers and technology offer an approach to help our students overcome the closure of their schools, but remote learning is not a sufficient remedy unless all students have access to the tools they need to participate fully and equally. This includes assistive technologies that enable students with disabilities to fully participate in distance learning.
The governor should act to ensure all contracts and agreements over products and services used for remote learning, whether they are provided to the government or directly to students and their families, include enforceable requirements that protect students and families.
All students must feel safe to learn remotely, and that simply cannot happen if the tools used for remote learning are allowed to collect information simply so companies can use the data to generate future income.
Nevada has the legal responsibility to ensure equity in education during remote learning.