FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2022
Contact: Mary Connolly
CFOG Essay Contest Chair
Email CFOG Essay Contest
West Haven, Avon and St. Joseph of Trumbull win top prizes;
honorable mentions to Greenwich, Nonnewaug Norwich and Rocky Hill
Morgan Montz, a junior at West Haven High School, has won the first prize of $1,000 in the 2022 Connecticut Foundation for Open Government’s Forrest Palmer High School Essay Contest.
Her essay addressed the use of “predictive policing” technology by some police departments and school boards to identify hotspots and individuals who could pose problems, even monitoring student social media and maintaining data on individuals.
“Gathering information without regard to people’s privacy on the internet and using it to police predictively violates people’s Fourth Amendment rights,” she wrote, “therefore proving the practice of predictive policing to be unconstitutional.”
The contest is named in honor of the late Forrest Palmer, who began the contest in 2000 when he was president of CFOG’s board of directors. CFOG is a nonprofit educational organization founded on the principle that open, transparent government is in the public interest. CFOG sponsors the essay contest to encourage thought and debate among students on public and freedom of information issues.
A second prize of $500 was won by Daniel Hamilton, a junior at Avon High School. He wrote about whether Connecticut law should prevent the public from reviewing the performance evaluations of teachers.
“Freedom of the press is important, but privacy is too,” he wrote. “Placing teacher evaluations in the public domain is a step too far. To ensure continued dignity of the teacher evaluation process, prevailing exemptions should be preserved.”
A third prize of $300 was won by Mallory Doyle, a senior at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull. She also wrote about whether teacher evaluations should be made public.
“My belief is that it needs to be looked at as a legal issue and not the emotional one that it appears to be,” she wrote. “As taxpayers, those that serve the public should answer to their constituents and the taxpayers that fund their salaries. The extra layer of protection for self-interest should not be granted and there should be no additional expectation of privacy than those their peers receive.”
Honorable mention awards of $50 went to Elise Boria of Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, Vittoria Favia and Connor Hummel of West Haven High, Noah Kim of Greenwich High, Jayson Makowski of Norwich Free Academy and Marvin Odobashi of Rocky Hill High.
Students were asked to write essays on one of three topics:
- Should Connecticut law continue to prevent the public, including students and parents, from reviewing the performance evaluations of teachers?
- Police departments and school boards have experimented with “predictive policing” technology to identify hotspots and individuals who could pose problems, even monitoring student social media and maintaining data on individuals. Do these practices violate civil rights protections?
- Does the First Amendment protect teachers from being fired for teaching about race or other controversial issues in violation of school policy?
Judges for the contest were Janet Manko, Eileen FitzGerald and Mary Connolly.