Oct 122013
 
 October 12, 2013  Youth & Schools

WWNT Radio reports that Alabama’s state board of education has “adopted a policy that supposedly protects student privacy while it allows the collection, data-mining and sharing of private, non-academic information on students without parental permission.”

Why would they do this? Follow the money and federal strings:

“ALDOE received one-half billion dollars from the 2009 Stimulus Bill in exchange for developing a state longitudinal data system.  Also, when the Board applied for a waiver from No Child Left Behind, it agreed to implement the standards, aligned assessments, and data-mining; and it will receive additional multi-millions of dollars.  The Board no longer has the power to protect student privacy because they’ve ‘sold’ their right to the federal government.  Only the State Legislature can help us now.”

Personal data unrelated to academics will include some students’ behaviors and psychosocial attributes.  Zeanah stated, “Children can be asked about their sexual preferences, drug use, political and religious beliefs, etc.  Given the recent examples of how the federal government uses data to punish its political enemies and picks winners and losers, why would the Superintendent and state board (with the exception of Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters who voted against the policy) want to subject our children to this threat?  The only way to protect our children is to not collect compromising information in the first place.  Let’s hope the Legislature will right this wrong.”

Obviously, this is not just a problem or concern in Alabama, but a nationwide problem. EPIC’s challenge to the 2011 changes in FERPA failed for lack of standing. It is not clear whether they will try again with different plaintiffs who might meet the requirements for Article III standing. That so many parents nationwide have not risen up to organize and fight these massive databases is concerning. And as much as I don’t want to see any database leaked, I’m wondering what it will take before the public wakes up and realizes the danger of compiling so much sensitive info on children.

Wake up, people, before it’s too late for your kids.

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