Are you worried about your privacy? You should be. We've written stories about your privacy being tracked by private companies and breaches of this information.
The Federal Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is due to be to be changed and accommodations will be made for privacy data to include invasive personal information on your family and your student in the Longitudinal Data System (LDS)if Arne Duncan's plan is adopted.
The LDS will be connected not only to other states for educational information, but also to various federal agencies, such as the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services for information to supply the workforce:
The term workforce is defined as consisting of the workers engaged in a specific activity, business or industry or the number of workers who are available to be assigned to any purpose as in a nation’s workforce.
The public workforce system is a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion and facilitate the development United States workforce. The system is designed to create partnership with employers, educators, and community leaders in order to foster economic development and high-growth opportunities in regional economies so that businesses find qualified workers to meet their present and future workforce needs. (Emphasis added)
The amount of personal information requested for your student can hardly be believed. But Arne Duncan is serious about expanding the information he wants from you and your student. He has insisted the information will be secure, but is that the core concern? You have until May 23, 2011 to make your comments.
I have a question that could possibly be taken as a comment. Does the government have the right to request over 315 data sets on your child to equip the government for its purposes? What does this have to do with education?
The Fordham Institute has similar concerns and here is what Joann Weiss from the Department of Education has stated about using your student data:
"In this new market, it will make sense for teachers in different regions to share curriculum materials and formative assessments. It will make sense for researchers to mine data to learn which materials and teaching strategies are effective for which students - and then feed that information back to students, teachers, and parents."
Here is some information and links from a reader on FERPA, the DOE and the LDS:
- Proposed changes expand the list of who gets access to data, what constitutes an education program in the first place, and eliminates the putative reason why information is released without consent. Another proposed change violates statutory authority by expanding the types of entities subject to enforcement. The Department of Education does not have statutory authority to unilaterally extend jurisdiction. The administration chose not to seek Congressional review of FERPA, preferring to unilaterally change the privacy law through administrative action (to quietly accommodate the distribution of personal information).
In 2010 the Dept. of Education fired Paul Gammill, “the top federal official charged with protecting student privacy.” Mr. Gammill “maintains that he was dismissed because, on several occasions, he argued in internal meetings and documents that the department's approach to prodding states to expand their longitudinal student data systems violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects the privacy of students' educational records.” Doug Lederman, Feb. 2010 http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/02/01/ferpa
Susan Hatton of the National Assn. of Independent Colleges and Universities describes that organization's opposition, “Driving the proposal…is the Department's intent to facilitate statewide longitudinal data systems capable of tracking individuals from pre-kindergarten through employment. NAICU has long supported student privacy rights, and strongly opposed earlier efforts by the Department to establish a national student unit record system. The association is concerned that these new proposals represent a substantial and unwarranted erosion of student privacy.”
“The federal government has already invested over $500 million in state-level data systems, and the President's FY 2012 budget requests another $100 million for this purpose. In addition, the American Relief and Recovery Act (ARRA) requires that states adopt these statewide data systems as a condition of funding, and further specifies the elements to be included.
Specifically, the new FERPA proposal would substantially increase the number of entities allowed to access personally identifiable student information without the student's or parent's consent.” Education Department Proposes Regs to Reduce FERPA Privacy Protections. NAICU Washington Update April 11, 2011, Susan Hatton
“Duncan is fully prepared to carry out President Obama's education agenda, limiting the role of parents in schools while giving more power to the federal government to control the education agenda in the classroom.” Chris Field
"That [schools] are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes." (West Virginia State Bd. of Edu. v. Barnette (1943) 319 U.S. 624, 637)
It's not just states and schools that are sharing information on your child. It's also other various federal agencies tracking your student from preschool through age 20 through the workforce. If this seems just a tad bit invasive and unconstitutional to you, inform Secretary Duncan on your concerns. And you might just want to copy your state and federal politicians as well. When did we accept it was necessary or legal to be ordered to share personal information with the Federal Government to further its purposes?