Sep 132018
 September 13, 2018  Posted by  Featured News, U.S., Youth & Schools

The Future of Privacy Forum has released “Parents: Raise Your Hand and Ask Schools How They Protect Student Data.”

This back-to-school resource describes 7 important questions that parents should ask their schools. The free PDF is available at:

And after you read that, take a look at what I wrote in January 2013 on the same topic of what to ask schools. What, if anything, has changed since then?

  6 Responses to “Speak up, parents, speak up!”

  1. Parents don’t care. All they want to see are their children’s photos on school Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account pages for the whole world to see.

    I am sorry to burst the bubble. There is only a small minority of parents who have concerns about this issue.

  2. What is the basis for your claim? Do you work in schools? Are you part of a parent-teacher organization?

    And even if parents who are educated about the issue and do care are in the minority, it doesn’t take a majority to make a difference.

  3. Answering questions , yes to both.

    I will be more specific. I have noticed more and more schools are using as many photos as they can to promote learning and engagement. Facebook and Instagram school pages are completely public and not encrypted to secure photos will not get in the hands of anyone unseemly.
    Parents (including highly educated) seem to be sharing or oversharing their school photos on Facebook pages. I know of 1 young and inexperienced teacher who made an Instagram account of her second grade journeys and was posting the students on an open public Account. I am not sure if you are familiar with Instagram but they have these insta stories where you record for 24 hours and it disappears. This teacher was also recording the students learning in the classroom and posting to Insta story (I won’t even touch the phone being used in the classroom, totally other issue). This Instagram account has been taken down as of yesterday which I am relieved about. The teacher was young and didn’t know any better. Is it fair to discikp her when her school posts children publicly to their social media accounts? In one of the photos a child was sitting at his desk learning and his full name was completely visible.

    Something needs to be done about this issue too. Parents sign consent forms for videos and photos but come on.. for this?

  4. The schools that do that are often in violation of FERPA, but unless parents file complaints and take action, I do not expect that to change. I can tell you – from experience – that even 20 years ago, schools knew damned well that they shouldn’t just be using photos in promotional materials of any kind without the express written consent of parents. So for young teachers now not to know that they can’t do this on Instagram is inexcusable. But perhaps the solution for that is not to file a FERPA complaint but for parents to file complaints against the teachers’ certification with the state.

    Thank you for clarifying your thoughts about this issue. I think we are in significant agreement on these issues.

  5. D,

    I think I may need to further clarify on the teacher instagram account issue. I did not think I would use it as an example but I did. There seems to have been some sort of consent since some parents were actively following, along with the school (it is private). My hunch is that there was no written consent anywhere and NOT EVERYONE was notified, or maybe one of her parents found out about it and advised, ‘this is a no no’. Teacher made a bad judgment call on this issue. However the teacher’s school has a public Facebook page for everyone to see with children everywhere. Facebook pages are not private, in that non users can access pages too.

    These public Facebook and Instagram pages are everywhere, public and private. I have seen public schools/principals create Twitter accounts too, and those teachers make their own Twitter accounts.
    Lets not blame entirely this young teacher for inexcusable actions when many school administrations are just as responsible.

    I also saw another school post a few pictures of young children with their names fully visible on the Facebook page. One student was even sitting at his desk doing work with his full name in sight. This school is on my list to contact the administration so they are aware of the concern and can delete it.

    And no I am not surprised promoting was an issue over 20 years ago.

  6. Perhaps the most disturbing think in reading your comments is that it is not the U.S. Education Dept. who is dealing with this. This is soooo well known as a problem by now and yet USED has not taken appropriate steps.

    When EPIC and PogoWasRight analyzed FERPA complaints submitted to FCPO, we found that too often, excuses were made or no action was taken against districts who violate FERPA. Sadly, this is just more of the same, and because there’s no private cause of action, this will likely just continue.

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