After a recent town hall meeting, I stood in line to mention to my visiting Congressman that the Department of Education had gone behind Congress’ back to alter FERPA (family privacy law) that circumvented parental consent and broadened definitions of who gets access to personal student data, including nonacademic and family data.
This is, of course, dangerous to student privacy and ultimately, to citizen autonomy.
The Congressman said he was interested in more information about what the Department of Education had done. So, here is what I have shared, and I share it here, too, for anyone who’s interested in parental consent laws or student privacy protection.
The interplay of the several Dept. of Ed. actions reveal to me that a main reason the Executive Branch alloted so much money toward incentivizing Common Core to states, is this fact: common, national tests will collect so much data, to be perusable by the federal government –and others.
“Others” will include public-private-partnerships (PPP’s) as modeled by global-education sales giant Pearson. Pearson’s CEA, Michael Barber –who is quoted often and praised by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan– says that education standards should be the same globally, and that global data must be perused “without borders”. See Pearson’s new global education data bank .
Arne Duncan is aware of the limitations of the federal role in educational decision making and data collection, legally, in America.
Still, he meddled. He altered the Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations to benefit the Dept. of Education’s testing/data collection goals; the FERPA alterations will continue to benefit corporations, notably Pearson; and will link to various state and federal agencies under the Data Quality Campaign. Any “authorized representative” who claims to be a “stakeholder” –even a school “volunteer” can access the now loosened rules about seeing personally identifiable information (PII) unless a school refuses to collect it in the first place. You will notice that the Federal Register speaks out of both sides of its mouth about loosening and preserving privacy rights. It is impossible to do both, and the Dept. of Education has not done both.
It loosened the requirement that school systems previously were under; previously, schools had to get parental consent (or above 18-yr-old students’) consent, before sharing data. It also altered definitions of terms including “directory information” and “educational agency.” Very dangerous stuff.
The alterations by the Dept. of Education really need a context, to understand the motives, and why the Dept. didn’t wait for Congressional approval.
So, in addition to recommending you read the incredibly boring but vital Federal Register vol 76.232: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/html/2011-30683.htm which laid out the alterations to FERPA– in addition to that, I’m also recommending reading:
1. A link to the lawsuit filed by EPIC (Electronic Privacy Info Center) against the Dept. of Ed: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
2. A “Cooperative Agreement” – another super boring but vital “governmentspeak” document that shows the Sec. Arne Duncan micromanagement and oversight that the Dept. of Ed plans to have over citizen data, via national test consortia: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
3. A link to the National Data Collection Model’s recommended data points, for schools to collect (including health-care history, family income, nicknames, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, and bus stop times among other pieces of information on the student and the families. http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
4. The official White House push for “robust data” for tracking of citizens (students): http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ed_data_commitments_1-19-12.pdf and by Sec. Duncan: http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.html
5. The SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) information. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/index.asp SLDS was bought with ARRA Stimulus money; every state bought one and they must be interoperable; they track students/citizens using personally identifiable information that includes biometric, psychometric, nonacademic and academic info.
6. A link to the Race to the Top application, since it shows that one of the points necessary was the SLDS people-tracking database. http://www.schools.utah.gov/arra/Uses/Utah-Race-to-the-Top-Application.aspx The No Child Left Behind waiver pushes the same thing. See: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/federalized-education/facts-about-the-no-child-left-behind-waivers/ and http://pdflike.com/read.php?url=http://www.nsba.org/SchoolLaw/Issues/NCLB/NSBAFederalGuidanceDocumentsandPublications/ESEA-Flexibility-Request.pdf
7. Another link to how FERPA alterations of the USDE allow DNA, fingeprints, voiceprints and other biometric records to be used to identify persons. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf This link states: “’Biometric record,’ as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.”
By stealth, and by financial incentivization to states (increasingly to school districts directly, in states that rejected Common Core data collection tests), it appears that the Department of Education used school systems to create a strong citizen surveillance web, better known as “robust data.”
It turns out that the Constitutional rights-saving fairies are off duty. They’ve left it up to you and me.
We, the People, must call the Dept. of Education on this.