Archive for the ‘privacy law’ Tag

Can FERPA (parental consent and privacy law) and SLDS (student tracking) Coexist?   7 comments

I didn’t make up this question:  “Can FERPA and SLDS coexist?”.

It’s in a white paper written by ESP solutions group, called “Could FERPA halt your SLDS:  A Mini-Guide That Explores Potential FERPA Roadblocks Disruptive to Your SLDS Project,”directed at state leaders who are attempting to data-mash their state agencies’ systems.

http://www.espsolutionsgroup.com/espweb/assets/files/Could_FERPA_%20halt_your_LDS.pdf

(I’m guessing readers of this document are people like  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Dept. of Education Chief of Staff J. Weiss, Utah Technology Director John Brandt, Utah School Superintendent Larry Shumway, the USOE, and folks like Professor David Wiley.  I add in Wiley because he’s partnered with USOE to write Common Core books and has publically said he is FOR going behind parents’ backs to get access to student data for research purposes.)

FYI- Data systems mashing and meshing is also soon to be done with federal data systems, not just state SLDS, according to a recent statement by J. Weiss, the Chief of Staff of the Department of Education.

The ESP white paper shows the disregard the movement has for individual privacy –calling privacy law, FERPA, a “roadblock”– and it shows the conflict the data-seeking SLDS/P-20 crowd feels toward traditional privacy law, such as the Congressionally approved and created FERPA as it was originally written in the 70’s by people who actually respected parental consent law and student privacy.

Remember, though, that the Dept of Education has altered FERPA to empower the data-mashing gang i.e., Arne Duncan, President Obama, John Brandt, Shumway, Weiss and Wiley. The Dept. of ED has been sued for doing so, by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (thank heaven and hope they win.)

What meaning do I make of it?

The good news is, FERPA still has the data-hungry, big-government educrats scared.  Remember: state FERPA laws have not changed although federal regulations to FERPA did.

The bad news is, there are individuals and whole organizations like ESP or David Wiley, getting paid by our government (by us)  to think of ways of getting around family privacy law so that without our consent, they can access private information– in the guise of caring for our students and with the good intentions of any non-elected, self-appointed stakeholder/decisionmaker over other people’s children.

http://www.espsolutionsgroup.com/espweb/assets/files/Could_FERPA_%20halt_your_LDS.pdf

Now that the state admits they track PII on every kid, and our feds have requested data mashing…   1 comment

Dear Lorraine,
Thank you!  I appreciate you going to the effort to find the answer to my question. I have a follow-up question.
The Associate Superintendent over data collection said that USOE does not release student level data; could you tell me how long that policy will remain in place and where I can find it in written form?  Thank you.
I am concerned with this question because Joanne Weiss, the U.S. Education Department’s chief of staff, said that information from multiple federal data systems is being “mashed together” on the federal level and will be further mashed with state data. The U.S. Department of Education’s research agency is releasing information to “help” move states toward “developing partnerships” to use the student information gathered from state longitudinal data systems. (Source: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB )
Another source confirms this trend:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
It says, “Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W) ” and that regional and federal groups are linked clients of Choice Solutions, Utah’s data networking partner.
Added to these facts is the fact that recent changes were made by the Department of Education to FERPA (privacy laws/regulations) that remove the necessity for researchers to gather parental or student consent prior to accessing personally identifiable information (PII).
So the only thing standing between our students’ PII and interstate, intrastate and federal persual (including entrepreneurs and both governmental and nongovernmental researchers) is local policy.
That is why I’d like to see what that policy is, and when it’s due to expire.
Thank you very much.  I appreciate your time.
Sincerely,
Christel Swasey
On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 9:27 AM, Austin, Lorraine <Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov> wrote:

Christel,

I have consulted with the Associate Superintendent in the office over data collection, and have received the following answer to your question:

All students who attend public schools have their data submitted to USOE for multiple purposes including accountability and monitoring aggregate student progress.  USOE does not release student level data.  Current data systems do not allow for individual student data to be withheld from the data submission process.  Current state and federal accountability requires that a minimum of 95% of students participate in all assessment programs.

Lorraine

Lorraine Austin, Secretary to the Board

Utah State Board of Education

PO Box 144200

Salt Lake City, UT  84114-4200

(801) 538-7517

From: Christel  Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2012 1:07 PM To: Board of Education; Shumway, Larry; Park, Judy; Hales, Brenda Subject: Second Request for a Yes or No

Dear Board,

Last week, I asked a simple yes or no question.  I received one response, and that board member did not say yes or not, but said he’d forward my question to Judy Park’s secretary.  I still have no answer.

The question is simple:  Is it possible for a student in Utah to attend public school and not be tracked by the P-20 and SLDS tracking systems?

Thanks.

Christel Swasey

Heber, Utah

 

Control Over Education: More of the Debate Between Professor Wiley and Me   Leave a comment

David Wiley says:

July 21, 2012 at 2:39 am

Christel,

Let me start by saying thanks to you as well. I think this conversation has been extra-ordinarily civil, despite our obvious differences of opinion. In today’s political realm, I can think of nothing more important than civility in discourse. So much of what could be productive dialog is reduced to worse than time-wasting shouting. I am genuinely grateful for your obvious passionate – yet polite – engagement around this topic.

I would disagree that my argument has been that ‘because research is supremely helpful in making improvements to education, anything that stands in the way of gathering research is reduced to optional/unimportant.’ I have argued for the importance of research in improving education, and I have argued for the importance of the exceptions to FERPA – which are clearly limited.

The study exemption FERPA governs schools initiating research and evaluation of their own programs – in other words, a school or district that wants to study itself. If a school district doesn’t have sophisticated research expertise in-house (and given today’s budgets – how could they afford to?), under the study exemption they are permitted to engage outside expertise in the process of conducting that research. Those outside experts may be contractors, consultants, or volunteers. And they can conduct this research without having to ask parents’ permission first. That seems wholly appropriate to me.

You suggest that “researchers should shoulder the inconvenience of getting parental/individual consent” before any research can be done. If the researcher has come to the school and proposed the work, this is exactly what would have to happen. And the research rarely occurs because too few parents engage in meaningful tasks like helping their child with homework, let alone signing a research consent form. And if these researchers can’t persuade enough parents to consent the research won’t happen, which is perhaps as it should be.

But when a school asks, “We want to understand how we can serve our students better – Ms. Research Expert, will you please help us?” Then under the exception a strict written contract is executed governing what data Ms. R. E. can and cannot see and what she can and cannot do with that data. Now that she is under contract, she is treated like other employees because she is subject to similar contractual obligations. And those obligations are what make “employees” in the first place.

I agree that must act ethically. And I ask, which is more ethical – prohibiting students from achieving more of their potential by prohibiting research that would facilitate that fulfillment? Or providing all individuals who are appropriately and contractually obligated to protect PII with access to PII for the reasons specified in their contracts?

The USOE has been holding public meetings about Common Core literally for years now, asking for community feedback and listening carefully to all opinions expressed. Some of that feedback has been critical, some of it has been supportive. Regardless of which path they choose to follow, they were certain to disappoint a large portion of their constituency. I’m genuinely sorry that you feel they have made the wrong choice. If they had rejected the Common Core, I’m sure I would have felt the same overwhelming sense of frustration and disappointment that I expect you feel because of their adoption of it.

While I can’t speak on behalf of the USOE, I would guess that if they seem unexcited by the idea of holding yet another hearing on these issues, it is because they have already held so many of them and have heard the arguments for and against repeated so many times in these meetings and other settings (op-eds, blog posts, Facebook comments, etc.) that they can recite – and explain – each of the pro and con arguments from memory. This does not mean that they are anti-transparency or anti-public input. But once you’ve heard all the arguments a dozen or more times, there is simply no “gaining the public’s input” function served by convening yet another meeting. The USOE has a clear obligation to obtain and consider public input, but that obligation does not mean that meetings must continue to be held quarterly as long as a portion of the constituency disagrees with their decision.

I believe the record of open public meetings (which was reviewed at length in the most recent public meeting on Common Core) provided ample opportunity for these decisions to be made with meaningful public vetting from 100% of schoolchildrens’ parents. The fact is that – even when you and I run around the state talking to everyone we can get our hands on – people don’t engage. I agree with you, that most parents in Utah still don’t even know what Common Core is nor what FERPA is about. But it is only partly up to people like me (and you!) to right this wrong. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. You and I can cry from the rooftops about how important this issue is, but parents have the agency to choose to ignore us. And they have largely exercised that agency to choose apathy. If, as you say 99% of them won’t engage over something this important, what prayer do we have of them ever signing a research consent form? =)

Finally, please do mistakenly believe that my views represent those of the David O. McKay School of Education or BYU. I am not a spokesman for either, and there are people in both the MSE and broader BYU communities who agree with your point of view (perhaps more than would agree with me). I am simply a person who supports the Common Core, and finds great pleasure in constructive dialog with people with other opinions.

Reply

  • Professor Wiley,

    It is simply not true that the state has “provided ample opportunity” for meaningful public vetting.  There has never been a single hearing on Common Core.  There has never been a public vote. The one forum held by USOE at Granite School District last spring was dominated by the pro-Common Core side with a forty-five minute intro, after which some individuals from both sides, pro and con, were given time to say a few sentences each.

    A pitiful minority of teachers and parents even know what the term fully means.  Even teachers do not know that we aren’t free to change these standards; we have given up our authority over educational standards decision making and testing as we’ve agreed to nationalize our local system.

    This was not fair public vetting.  Common Core’s implementation and purpose is education without representation– both in the disregard you and other Common Core advocates show for parental involvement and consent, and also in the fact that Common Core standards are copyrighted and can therefore never be challenged by parents or by anyone at all.  We can’t even remove the personnel and administrators of Common Core by a vote. How un-American is that?!

    A recent poll done by Achieve, Inc. (ironically) showed that overwhelmingly, a majority of Americans have no idea what Common Core means.  I didn’t know what the term meant until this April.  The USOE has not been transparent, open, or had meaningful public forums to expose and discuss all the relevant points –on control of local education, on research, on Constitutional legality, on taxpayer cost, nor on the standards’ content.

    You are openly advocating for the removal of consent. No amount of eduspeak makes up for that.

    Christel Swasey

%d bloggers like this: