letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: SFUSD’s Cozy Relationship With Google

Editor,

I’d love to know if anyone is looking into the cozy relationship
between Google and the San Francisco Unified School District.

I just learned yesterday that Google is an “industry partner” with the computer science department at my son’s high school. Obviously Google is not a neutral or benign partner in this relationship, nor are the two entities in any way close to equal in terms of power, especially under our current crisis level social
and economic conditions. The majority of my son’s class activity takes
place on Google platforms, and as a parent I don’t recall ever
clicking to accept this. For the last year my son has had hardly any
in-person contact with his friends, and has been forced to participate
in 100% online instruction. He hates school now, is completely bored
with all of his classes, and just yesterday said he thinks he has
developed ADD. In addition, he recently began suffering from
depression and a serious lack of confidence in himself. Obviously
Google’s close relationship with SFUSD has serious potential impacts
both emotionally and cognitively on the city’s students, and these
impacts are going to have major social and political consequences. And
yet I have heard little, if any, critical analysis of this
partnership.

While San Francisco’s schools have been closed for a
year, local private schools have been open for months, with almost no
problems with Covid transmission. It’s pretty obvious that some
children are more equal than others, and that working-class parents
are too overwhelmed and politically impotent to do anything either to
protect their children from predatory corporations or to defend their
interests generally.

I think we may as well stop pretending we live in a functioning democracy. Political equality means nothing if all we empirically perceive is radical levels of material inequality. Clearly
we have no say over what happens in our lives, and clearly no one
cares what we the people think. But apparently some people very much
want to control the means by which thought is or isn’t developed.

Mira Martin-Parker

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