Sharing my letter, send out today.
Dear [State School] Board,
Utah Rep. Jake Anderegg
Why I wrote the letter?
I compared the student privacy protection bill that Utah Representative Jake Anderegg is running right now, with the summary of a recent public hearing –in which corporate education vendors pushed for decreased student privacy and for increased student data sharing. I realized that the fight is truly going on right now in Utah. Most people don’t know the fight is on; it doesn’t make news headlines, though it should. So few people speaking up. And the board assumes it’s okay with all of us to keep loosening and loosening student data protections.
Should students and families maintain individual rights over student data privacy or not?
Which side are you on?
Have we as an informed electorate, as neighbors, and families and friends, discussed what happens when students and families do –or do not– have data privacy protection? These are weighty matters with long term consequences.
The board’s having had a seemingly quick and one-sided “hearing” followed by an “emergency vote” seems hasty and even dangerous.
Let’s think and talk and debate thoroughly before we automatically align with corporate agendas. Let’s ask ourselves how these alignments and their possible unintended consequences may affect our children in the long term.
Both the bill and the summary report are wordy and un-reader-friendly, true. But we can’t know what side to support if we don’t study it out. So here are the links and abbreviated screenshots –of the two sides– to get started.
Anderegg’s privacy protection bill calls for increased privacy protections, particularly in reference to third party vendors:
The corporate education vendors call for decreased privacy protections. They say that the former provision that a school/district was to be the only entity authorized to collect and store school records is “overly restrictive and does not allow Third Party Ventors to collect and access records…. the rule does not reflect the actual practice”.
(If it does not reflect the actual practice, that is because federal agents have been unethically altering what Congress held the sole right to alter: Federal FERPA privacy law. Do we in Utah want to align with federal abuses, in order to cater to education vendors? Sure, the vendors testify that it’s a great idea. It makes their businesses run better. But the board ought to place the needs and rights of students and their families above corporate education vendors. Who is advocating for individual privacy rights for children at the corporate level? Nobody. The businesses want that data, and they don’t want to be inconvenienced by parental or student rights.)
Here’s the link to that report (and the first two pages, screenshots).
Here’s my “explain it to a fourth grader” summary of the situation: “When the government lets business people run the schools, the business people want to store records of what students do, so the government says OK. It is not good because the voters lose power over their rights. Voters can change the laws of government and can un-elect those we’ve elected to govern schools, but we cannot influence what business people do nor who gets to run businesses, by our vote. We have no control over them. That gives them control over us and over our records/privacy rights. We need to keep control of ourselves, our children, and our privacy rights. We should not give business people power over our schools, no matter how nice they are. “