Dangerous Data: What Communities Should Know about Artificial Intelligence, the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and School Surveillance

Public and private actors are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and other big data technologies to engineer new futures for structural racism and social inequality in the United States, a phenomenon that the sociologist Ruha Benjamin has termed the “New Jim Code.”

These technologies are upending decades of civil and human rights legal standards, expanding mass criminalization, restricting access to social services, and enabling systemic discrimination in housing, employment, and health care, among other areas.3 The New Jim Code carries unique threats to youth and young adults of color, especially in the context of K-12 public schools.

In recent years, federal policymakers have taken steps to address the societal implications of AI and big data technologies, including the White House Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, President Biden’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence, and the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance on AI in schools. However, these efforts have largely failed to address the specific harms that these technologies raise for youth and young adults of color and youth from other historically marginalized communities.

As the infrastructure of police surveillance grows in public schools, communities must be prepared to safeguard the rights and freedoms of students and families. This report is designed to help youth justice advocates, youth leaders, educators, caregivers, and policymakers understand and challenge the impact of school surveillance, data criminalization, and police surveillance technologies in schools.

  • This report includes:
    • An analysis of six key facts about the impacts of data criminalization and school surveillance technologies on education equity.
    • A case study of an AI school surveillance technology that can land children in adult misdemeanor court.
    • Key recommendations for education policymakers and school district leaders for advancing youth data justice.

>>Read the full report