The National Education Association approves AI policy to guide educators

Developed by a task force of educational stakeholders since autumn 2023, the policy highlights the importance of maintaining human connections in education, responsible AI use, data protection, and equitable access.

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The US National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly (RA) delegates have approved the NEA’s first policy statement on the use of AI in education, providing educators with a roadmap for the safe, effective, and accessible use of AI in classrooms.

Since the fall of 2023, a task force of teachers, education support professionals, higher-ed faculty, and other stakeholders has been diligently working on this policy. Their efforts resulted in a 6-page policy statement, which RA delegates reviewed during an open hearing on 24 June and overwhelmingly approved on Thursday.

A central tenet of the new policy is that students and educators must remain at the heart of the educational process. AI should continue the human connection essential for inspiring and guiding students. The policy highlights that while AI can enhance education, it must be used responsibly, focusing on protecting data, ensuring equitable access, and providing opportunities for learning about AI.

The task force identified several opportunities AI presents, such as customising instructional methods for students with disabilities and making classrooms more inclusive. However, they also acknowledged risks, including potential biases due to the lack of diversity among AI developers and the environmental impact of AI technology. It’s crucial to involve traditionally marginalised groups in AI development and policy-making to ensure inclusivity. The policy clarifies that AI shouldn’t be used to make high-stakes decisions like class placements or graduation eligibility.

Why does this matter?

The policy underscores the importance of comprehensive professional learning for educators on AI to ensure its ethical and effective use in teaching. More than 7 in 10 K-12 teachers have never received professional learning on AI. It also raises concerns about exacerbating the digital divide, emphasising that all students should have access to cutting-edge technology and educators skilled in its use across all subjects, not just in computer science.