Okay, this is a big one. A dangerous one.
This week, the Utah State School Board will meet to discuss whether or not to change state FERPA policy.
Please call or write the board and demand that they NOT change our protective state FERPA policy to match the new, questionably legal, federal FERPA regulatory changes.
Why do I say “questionably legal federal changes?”
Congress made the original FERPA law many years ago to protect citizen privacy. But recently, the Department of Education overstepped its authority in making regulatory changes to FERPA. Regulations are not as binding as law. But the regulatory changes are being seen by some as federal mandates.
Federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Meanwhile, the Department of Education’s actions have been so shockingly unacceptable to some (including me) that the Department of Education has been sued. Yes, sued. The lawsuit was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and it’s in full gear, with an undetermined outcome. If EPIC wins, the Dept. of Education will have to repeal its regulatory changes to federal protective FERPA law.
Why does anyone want to REMOVE parental consent over student privacy?
They want to make the government more powerful than parents for “research-based” reasons, they say.
They want the government to be able to study our data without interference or permission. And they assure us that this power will never be misused. Hmmm.
FERPA stands for “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” (20 U.S.C. 1232g (US Code)
It was originally put into law in 1974 at the federal level to limit the amount of children’s personally identifiable information that could be given without parental consent.
There are federal and state FERPA laws, as well as district FERPA policies. In 2011, the US Dept. of Education created a new FERPA regulation that went into effect Jan. 3, 2012. Regulations are usually created by non-elected departments and therefore DO NOT pass through congress, but in essence they are observed the same as law.
The US Dept. of Education created this new regulation (34 CFR Part 99) which significantly broadens the definition of “personally identifiable information” as well as the term “authorized representatives”.
According to the regulation, “personally identifiable information” includes:
The term includes, but is not limited to—
(a) The student’s name;
(b) The name of the student’s parent or other family members;
(c) The address of the student or student’s family;
(d) A personal identifier, such as the student’s social security number, student number, or biometric record;
(e) Other indirect identifiers, such as the student’s date of birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name;
(f) Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or
(g) Information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.
Wondering what in the world “biometric record” means and what is includes?
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.
This allows for a collection of personal health records!
As a parent, I had to ask myself, to whom is this information being given? The answer is found in the regulation with the definition of “Authorized representative”
“Authorized representative” means any entity or individual designated by a State or local educational authority or an agency headed by an official listed in § 99.31(a)(3) to conduct – with respect to Federal- or State-supported education programs – any audit or evaluation, or any compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Federal legal requirements that relate to these programs.
So, our children’s personal information can be given to: Pretty much anyone without parental consent.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FERPA FINAL REGULATIONS
Specifically, we have modified the definition of and requirements related to ‘‘directory information’’ to clarify (1) that the right to opt out of the disclosure of directory information under FERPA does not include the right to refuse to wear, or otherwise disclose, a student identification (ID) card or badge;
(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:
(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;
(B) Administer student aid programs; or
(C) Improve instruction.
What is predictive testing? Here’s one definition from Wikipedia.
Predictive testing is a form of genetic testing. It is also known as presymptomatic testing. These types of testing are used to detect gene mutations associated with disorders that appear after birth, often later in life. These tests can be helpful to people who have a family member with a genetic disorder, but who have no features of the disorder themselves at the time of testing. Predictive testing can identify mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing disorders with a genetic basis, such as certain types of cancer. For example, an individual with a mutation in BRCA1 has a 65% cumulative risk of breast cancer. Presymptomatic testing can determine whether a person will develop a genetic disorder, such as hemochromatosis (an iron overload disorder), before any signs or symptoms appear. The results of predictive and presymptomatic testing can provide information about a person’s risk of developing a specific disorder and help with making decisions about medical care.
Why would the federal government want to track genetic and medical information coupled with educational information in a cradle to grave longitudinal database? Why is the Gates Foundation funding biometric tracking? Why is the Gates Foundation also co-hosting the London International Eugenics Conference with Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) next month? Why would the Department of Health and Human Services under Kathleen Sebelius (responsible for the FERPA changes listed above) be offering $75 million in grants for schools to open health clinics inside their schools away from parental oversight?
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the federal government is in the business of control and not pure education. Why aren’t Utah leaders moving to protect Utahn’s from these overreaches of the federal government? Gates Foundation paid nearly $20 million to the National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State Superintendents Organization to prompt them to create Common Core. Schools will soon be the ultimate laboratories in fulfillment of Marc Tucker’s dream for creating central planning for the American workforce.
–Many people contributed to the writing of this post.