Local desire to protect student privacy conflicts with other agencies’ goals to examine private student data   Leave a comment

Dear School Board, 

Thank you for allowing public comment.  I wrote before but I do have more to say.

You might feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, stuck in the middle of negotiations, regulations, laws, local and state politics, and angry parents.  I imagine it feels like because you don’t have all the answers, you might just submit to those who claim to know more than you do or who seem more authoritative. 

I encourage you to stand up tall and know that you have as much or more authority than these others do, in your elected role.  You are the guardians of this little city’s public education system, and you have a very significant role to play today, that those entities who want easy access to citizens’ information cannot intimidate or bribe you into dismissing, without your consent.

I urge you to have confidence in yourselves and to do your own research and listen to the voices of the parents who care the very most about their children’s well being.

When it comes to believing the USOE, the USSB, the DoE, the UEN, the NCES, the IES, the SBAC, and the other data-collectors, please trust but verify.  We must not be naiively trusting; please don’t trust even the most well intentioned government claim without verifying.  In this case, the thing to verify is that our local desire to protect student privacy conflicts with other agencies’ goals to examine private student data.

There is a network of data-collecting that now starts in a child’s school and filters through its district, then through Utah (via the USOE, the P-20 Workforce, a massive longitudinal database, and via UEN’s partnership with UTrex, Choice Solutions Corporation, and the Utah Data Alliance).  Then the data on children gets dis-aggregated (according to Choice Solutions’ own statement http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm ) and this disaggregated data will be electronically exchanged, they have promised, to many “stakeholders”.  This is not good.

Unfortunately, you, our board, will not be able to control this disaggregation and electronic exchange with good intentions, your own integrity, or your own power.  Only a strong district FERPA policy can protect children and parents in this case.  What a daunting responsiblitity rests on you today! 

Once you let that information slip out of our school district, this huge network is waiting to descend upon it and pass it along to all these “stakeholders” which do include the executive branch, which does have a national database set up to do surveillance on our kids.  This is explained on their own websites.

IES is the research arm of the executive branch.  NCES, a branch of IES, defines it self as “the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education.” http://nces.ed.gov/    http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/west/board.asp   

And WestEd, also called West Regional Lab, is a division of NCES.  Larry Shumway sits on that WestEd governing board; he is not on the side of privacy over student data and we need to recognize his position.  He will not step in.  We must protect the children ourselves from this massive data exchange of personally identifiable information.

A study of recent and ancient history shows the life and death importance of maintaining local freedom, autonomy, privacy and control. 

Again, thank you for listening.

Christel Swasey

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