Dear Editor: Few people know what has been happening to parental authority over children and their data.
In January, without Congressional approval, federal regulations of FERPA (The Family Education Right Privacy Act) were altered to loosen parental consent rules, providing “more flexibility” for outside entities to get student data. See http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=5aa4af34-8e67-4f42-8e6b-fe801c512c7a ).
Last month, our local school board coincidentally created similar flexibility for external agencies to get local data, where families had had protections before.
The data-seeking network is growing: our state built a longitudinal database with federal stimulus money; the Utah Educator Network then partnered with the Data Alliance and Choice Solutions to build “seamless” sharing of data, both statewide and for entities outside Utah. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm. Meanwhile, the federal government started asking for previously state-analyzed, aggregated academic data: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf .
The federal government is also setting up the technological and legal ability to get dis-aggregated academic data, plus truckloads of far-from–academic data, about individuals and their families: living arrangements, biometric information, medical information, mental health, family income, bus stop times, nicknames, everything! See http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/information/aboutThe.aspx
Utah brags about meeting all elements of the federal data campaign in its longitudinal database, and Utah permits a P-20W workforce to track children (from preschool to age 20) making data available for any group calling itself a “stakeholder” of children: http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/Who-Benefits-P20-Data.pdf
Family privacy laws should never have been changed to accomodate parentally un-authorized “stakeholders” who want data without having to ask parents.
If this is important to you, write to our schools, local and state school boards, and our governor. Public comment has been invited by the Wasatch school board for a 30-day policy review that will end at the board’s meeting June 14th.