Carol Rose and Jessie Rossman report:
It is that time of year again! Those of us with school-aged children have kitchen tables piled high with forms and permission slips. Schools request all sorts of information at the beginning of each year: medical histories, dental insurance, emergency contacts, allergies and more. They require parent signatures to administer aspirin, publish student photos in school publications and take our children on field trips.
Yet something critical is missing. There is no form educating parents about the increasing number of ways that schools invade our children’s privacy, and certainly no permission slips asking for our consent when they do.
It’s a growing threat. In Massachusetts and nationwide, schools are making decisions that threaten student privacy — from making student records available to third-party providers, to monitoring student on-line activity on campus and at home, to subjecting students to physical surveillance. Such actions are undertaken with a shocking lack of transparency, and parents repeatedly are left out of the loop. A “decide first, inform later — if ever” policy isn’t how schools should handle student privacy. Even worse, when privacy intrusions are revealed, students and their parents rarely have a choice to opt-out.
Read more on WBUR. Although the examples in this article are from Massachusetts, where co-author Rossman is a staff member of the ACLU-Massachusetts, the issues and threats are nationwide.