Network Operations Dynamics in the Education Field
Byline: Ian Jackson 10/03/2019
The topic of child safety increased in school districts around the nation following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School of the Broward County Public Schools District in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018 leaving seventeen students dead. There is an abundance of news coverages concerning various forms of student safety in school systems across the nation. Many times, it is about bullying, cyberbullying, vaccinations, and school shooter related concerns. However, the issue of cybersecurity faced by many technology integrated schools across the United States, influencing a necessity for network operations personnel to be hired to facilitate in the protection of students’ data and information.
According to Campus Safety Magazine’s February 10, 2019 article by Amy Rock entitled Report: K-12 Schools Experienced 122 Cyber Attacks in 2018, “There were 122 cyber attacks last year at 119 K-12 public education institutions, averaging out to an attack every three days, according to a new report on the misuse of technology in U.S. public schools.” The article also includes information from the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center CYBERSECURITY FOR SCHOOLS FACT SHEET Cybersecurity Considerations for K-12 Schools and School Districts, “Schools (public and nonpublic) and school districts face a myriad of challenging hazards and threats…These incidents can be accidental or deliberate and disrupt education and critical operations; expose sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) of students, teachers, and staff; and lead to high recovery costs.” This can cause legal issues for school districts.
Just as schools require more physical security to protect the lives of students, they also require more cybersecurity to protect stakeholders’ information. This requires additional funding for cybersecurity within the field of Network Operations and more Information Technology professionals to occupy positions within United States of America school districts. However, this can be challenging. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that “Most information security analysts work for computer companies, consulting firms, or business and financial companies.” It also states that “The Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 32 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high, as these analysts will be needed to create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks.” This is beneficial for those who are currently pursuing degrees and certifications in the Information Technology field.
Although this can lead to possible positions within schools, being a benefit to current IT students, this requires school districts to develop an attractive pay scale to attract aspiring IT professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the yearly median salary for a high school teacher with a Bachelor’s degree in 2018 was $60,320, for a middle school teacher (Bachelor’s degree) was $58,600, and for both a kindergarten and an elementary school teacher (Bachelor’s degree) was $57,980, the median salary for an information security analyst was $98,350 (Bachelor’s degree) which was over the median pay of $94,390 for an education administrator/ principal (Master’s degree) at the elementary and “secondary school” levels. Clearly, an IT professional can receive a higher yearly salary with an undergraduate degree than a school administrator with a graduate degree. This is important because attaining an IT degree can mean that a person may not have to pursue a graduate degree hoping that this will ensure employment in a competitive job market while increasing one’s salary.
However, this places a demand on the field of education. Educators may have to be retrained through professional development initiatives, and school sites will be required to handle increased data flow in correlation with the increase use of electronic devices. Additionally, the increase in network activity in the classroom can cause an increase of data usage which means an increase in spending on network operations for each school within a district. According to How Much Data Does a Student Need? written by Kajeet on August 15, 2017, “During the school day, 78 percent of students use technology devices, according to eSchool News. Plus, 86 percent of schools anticipate an increase in spending on digital curriculum. Teachers continue to shift their focus to technology and online resources.”
Network operations is integral to the field of education in regards to student safety. There are multiple dynamics involved in the technological upgrading of the computer networks of schools within the United States, possibly requiring additional funding.