Browsing articles in "Data Collection and Data Privacy"
Jun 29, 2015
ELW

Reasons to Support the Student Privacy Protection Act – S. 1341

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President of Education Liberty Watch & Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

The following is a more detailed analysis of why congressional members’ support of Senator David Vitter’s (R-LA) privacy bill, the Student Privacy Protection Act (SPPA), S. 1341[1] is so important. This bill is the culmination of many discussions and the attentive listening of Senator Vitter with constituents, parents, pro-privacy attorneys and physicians, and others who have spent years fighting the data collection[2] associated with the Common Core standards and aligned assessments and the mental screening of children. Here is important information that will show that this legislation is a major step forward in improving student data privacy and protecting students’ freedom of conscience and freedom from government directed psychological profiling.

SPPA Prohibits Psychological Screening:

One of the most exciting parts of SPPA, especially for analysts and activists like the author, who has been fighting mental screening and the over-diagnosis and drugging of children as young as infancy for more than a decade,[3] is the prohibition on psychological testing and the strengthening of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.  After defining various terms, the bill does not merely require consent for mental screening and assessment or surveying of psychological attitudes with federal funds (a completely inappropriate federal activity), it fully prohibits psychological screening and profiling. The only exception is for special education evaluations, which is already current law. Significantly, the bill extends the prohibition of psychological screening and profiling to assessments, and thus would also ban the more horrific features of the Common Core assessments.

Here is the key language of SPPA:

‘‘(2) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no funds provided to the Department or Federal funds provided under any applicable program shall be spent to support any survey or academic assessment allowing any of the following types of data collection via assessments or any other means, including digitally[4] (Emphasis added):

This language protects a long list of affectively related surveying and testing parameters,[5] and is much more protective of students in this area than any other legislation, state or federal, introduced anywhere.

SPPA Closes the PPRA Loophole that Allows Psychological Screening in Regular Classroom Curricula and Assessments:

PPRA, which requires parental consent before surveying or evaluating students on eight categories of sensitive information[6], contains loopholes that render the privacy protections moot in the case of curriculum and assessments:

(4) Exceptions

(A) Educational products or services

Paragraph (1)(E) [the eight areas of sensitive information requiring parental  consent for surveys] does not apply to the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for the exclusive purpose of developing, evaluating, or providing educational products or services for, or to, students or educational institutions, such as the following:

(iii) Curriculum and instructional materials used by elementary schools and secondary schools.

(iv) Tests and assessments used by elementary schools and secondary schools to provide cognitive, evaluative, diagnostic, clinical, aptitude, or achievement information about students (or to generate other statistically useful data for the purpose of securing such tests and assessments) and the subsequent analysis and public release of the aggregate data from such tests and assessments. (Emphasis added)

The Vitter language to include assessments in the prohibition on psychological testing and screening was designed specifically to close this gaping loophole.  This is also especially relevant because of the very recent news that the National Assessment of Educational Progress plans to assess non-cognitive, social emotional parameters[7]:

The nation’s premiere federal testing program is poised to provide a critical window into how students’ motivation, mindset, and grit can affect their learning…

…The background survey will include five core areas—grit, desire for learning, school climate, technology use, and socioeconomic status—of which the first two focus on a student’s noncognitive skills, and the third looks at noncognitive factors in the school.

SPPA is also vitally important because of already documented intent of the Common Core standards and aligned assessments to psychologically manipulate and profile students (see these statements from U.S. Department of Education (USED) and other national education organization documents[8]):

“[A]s new assessment systems are developed to reflect the new standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science, significant attention will need to be given to the design of tasks and situations that call on students to apply a range of 21st century competencies that are relevant to each discipline. A sustained program of research and development will be required to create assessments that are capable of measuring cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills.” (Emphasis added).[9]

“There are important opportunities to leverage new and emerging advances in technology (e.g., educational data mining, affective computing, online resources, tools for teachers) to develop unprecedented approaches for a wide range of students.”[10]

In national policy, there is increasing attention on 21st-century competencies (which encompass a range of noncognitive factors, including grit), and persistence is now part of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.”[11] (Emphasis added.)

National model standards often contain elements of social and emotional learning. For example, 42 states and two territories are in the process of adopting the Common Core Standards in Math and English Language Arts, which contain standards on communication (especially speaking and listening), cooperation skills, and problem solving.”[12] (Emphasis added.)

“ASCA [American School Counselors Association] Mindsets & Behaviors align with specific standards from the Common Core State Standards through connections at the competency level.”[13] (Emphasis added).

“There are many other Common Core Standards that these social and emotional basic skills can be integrated with.”[14] (Emphasis added.)

SPPA Prevents Psychological Profiling of our Students through the IES/NCES Reauthorization (SETRA):

SPPA actually preemptively prohibits social and emotional research on school children to prevent expansion into socioemotional research by the Institute for Education Sciences and The National Center for Education Statistics in S. 227, the Strengthening Research Through Education Act (SETRA) by Senator Lamar Alexander, about which several organizations have warned.[15]

Here is the problematic language in SETRA:

”and which may include research on social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively. . . ”[16] (Emphasis added).

USED is already in flagrant violation of the Tenth Amendment and probably the Fourth Amendment with the amount of data collected and disclosed on individual children, families, and teachers. The Vitter language stops the federal government from researching the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of free American citizens, especially innocent children:

‘‘(4) NO NATIONAL ASSESSMENT USING PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA

.—No funds provided to the Department or to an applicable program may be used to pilot test, field test, implement, administer, or distribute in any way any federally sponsored national assessment collecting any psychological data or any federally sponsored research on social-emotional data in education. (Emphasis added).

This bill stops the unacceptable expansion of IES and NCES into the realm of affective research in their SETRA reauthorization.

SPPA Adds Important Protection against 2nd Amendment Data Collection to PPRA:

SPPA contains all of the same important protective elements as the current PPRA statute, and adds “Personal or family gun ownership,” to prevent nosy bureaucrats from snooping into if and how students and their families are exercising their Second Amendment rights.

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Jun 3, 2015
ELW

Response to Controversy Regarding Student Privacy Protection Act

The Student Privacy Protection Act, (SPPA) –  S1341, is creating quite a stir. As expected and despite the long list of supporting organizations, the crowd at the Data Quality Campaign which is heavily funded by pro-Common Core groups and anti-privacy corporations that stand to profit from access to our children’s sensitive data, has attacked SPPA and lamented that Sen. Vitter’s “intent is to respond to parents’ concerns” (DQC meant this as a criticism!). In addition, the American Education Research Association, another group that makes its living on our children’s data, is opposed. AERA’s president said in an email, “This legislation, if it were to pass, would have a devastating impact on the quality of education research.”

Unexpectedly, however, a critique has arisen from a well-respected figure on the anti-Common Core side of the spectrum. This critique, though well intended and sincere, is based on a faulty factual and legal analysis. It is unfortunate that this opposition, coming as it does from someone who has done so much to advance the anti-Common Core and pro-privacy movement, may result in division among the parents and other citizens who have now been fighting these battles for years. SPPA is acknowledged by privacy experts to be by far the most protective legislation in existence. It is critical that our movement work with Sen. Vitter to perfect and advance this bill. In the face of the withering onslaught from our opponents, we cannot let a valuable advance be thwarted by friendly fire.

Therefore, after having been closely involved in the discussions that led to the drafting of SPPA, Education Liberty Watch President, Dr. Karen Effrem and American Principles in Action Senior Fellow, Jane Robbins have assembled this respectful disagreement with and response to this critique. (See this link also).

Although the critique mentions numerous concerns to which Effrem and Robbins respond, the major ones revolve around expansion instead of protection of students from psychological profiling and that changing the term “student record” to “student data” will increase instead of decrease access to private data by third parties.  Here is the partial discussion of those two issues as a sample:

Continue reading »

Jun 3, 2015
ELW

Response to Concerns about the Student Privacy Protection Act – S. 1341 (Full Document)

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President of Education Liberty Watch & Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Jane Robbins, JD – Senior Fellow, American Principles in Action

The following is a respectful disagreement with and response to a recent critical analysis[1] of Senator David Vitter’s (R-LA) privacy bill, the Student Privacy Protection Act (SPPA), S. 1341[2]. This bill is the culmination of many discussions and the attentive listening of Senator Vitter with constituents, parents, pro-privacy attorneys and physicians, and others who have spent years fighting the data collection[3] associated with the Common Core standards and aligned assessments and the mental screening of children. Clarification of several misunderstandings about current law and policy will show that this legislation is a major step forward in improving student data privacy and protecting students’ freedom of conscience and freedom from psychological profiling.

Claim:

SPPA will increase psychological screening and profiling: “[Vitter] defines in great detail every aspect of psychological testing, treatment, analysis, and evaluation—the affective domain—that requires permission, and then allows the special education teams to implement the entire affective domain list.”

Fact:

One of the most exciting parts of SPPA, especially for analysts and activists like Dr. Effrem, who has been fighting mental screening and the over-diagnosis and drugging of children as young as infancy for more than a decade[4] , is the prohibition on psychological testing and the strengthening of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.  After defining various terms, the bill does not merely require consent for mental screening and assessment or surveying of psychological attitudes with federal funds (a completely inappropriate federal activity), it fully prohibits psychological screening and profiling. The only exception is for special education evaluations, which is already current law. Significantly, the bill extends the prohibition of psychological screening and profiling to assessments, and thus would also ban the more horrific features of the Common Core assessments.

Here is the key language of SPPA:

‘‘(2) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no funds provided to the Department or Federal funds provided under any applicable program shall be spent to support any survey or academic assessment allowing any of the following types of data collection via assessments or any other means, including digitally[5] (Emphasis added):

This language protects a long list of affectively related surveying and testing parameters,[6] and is much more protective of students in this area than any other legislation, state or federal, introduced anywhere.

Continue reading »

May 14, 2015
ELW

Education Liberty Watch Congratulates Senator Vitter & Joins Wave of National Support For Data Privacy Bill – S1341

Education Liberty Watch is pleased to join a broad coalition of state and national groups in supporting The Student Privacy Protection Act introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) today. The text of the bill is available HERE.

Here is Senator Vitter’s Statement from his press release:

“Parents are right to feel betrayed when schools collect and release information about their kids. This is real, sensitive information – and it doesn’t belong to some bureaucrat in Washington D.C.,” Vitter said. “We need to make sure that parents and students have complete control over their own information.”

Here is Dr. Karen Effrem’s statement from that same release:

“While this bill is very strong in a number of areas critical to student, teacher, and family data privacy, we are especially pleased with the language that prohibits psychological and attitudinal profiling of students in surveys or academic assessments, ” said Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.  “Senator Vitter deserves great thanks for his tireless efforts to roll back the intrusive data gathering, psychological profiling and career tracking of our children by the federal government and corporations.” (See Dr. Effrem’s research paper “Psychosocial Manipulation in the Common Core Standards and Aligned Tests and Curriculum”  for more details on this issue.)

What follows is a national unity statement with the  initial strong and very likely to increase list of state and national organizations supporting the legislation:

We; the undersigned groups that have grave concerns about the loss of student and family data privacy, psychological profiling, and career tracking related to the Common Core standards, aligned state tests and longitudinal data systems; are grateful to Senator David Vitter for introducing and do strongly support The Student Privacy Protection Act.

This legislation provides important protections in the following areas:

  • Rolling back the disastrous extra-congressional regulatory changes that vastly expanded access of third parties to our children’s personally identifiable data, now limiting that access and requiring parental consent in all cases
  • Holding educational agencies, schools, and third parties liable for violations of the law through monetary fines, damages, and court costs
  • Prohibiting psychological or attitudinal profiling of students or gathering of sensitive family information via any assessments, including academic assessments or surveys
  • Extending data protections for homeschooled students required to submit educational data to public school districts
  • Prohibiting educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from Federal or State agencies through data matches in student data.
  • Banning Federal education funds to states or districts that film, record, or monitor students or teachers in the classroom or remotely without parent or adult student and teacher consent.

We strongly urge the senators of our respective states to co-sponsor this critically important piece of legislation and our congressional representatives to author and co-sponsor this bill in the US House.

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS:

American Principles in Action

Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee

Eagle Forum

Education Liberty Watch

Home School Legal Defense Association

Women on the Wall

Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core

Stop Early Childhood Common Core

STATE ORGANIZATIONS:

Arkansas

Arkansans for Education Freedom

Arkansas Against Common Core

California

Faithful Christian Servants

Florida

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Florida Parents RISE

The Tea Party Network

Georgia

Georgians to Stop Common Core

Idaho

Idahoans for Local Education

Indiana

Hoosiers Against Common Core

Iowa

Iowa RestorEd

Iowa for Student Achievement

Kansas

Kansans Against Common Core

Louisiana

Louisiana Against Common Core

Massachusetts

Common Core Forum

Stop Common Core Massachusetts

Michigan

Stop Common Core in Michigan, Inc.

Minnesota

Minnesotans Against Common Core

Missouri

Missouri Coalition Against Common Core

Ohio
Ohioans Against Common Core
Oklahoma
Restore Oklahoma Public Education
Pennsylvania

Pennsylvanians Against Common Core

Pennsylvanians Restoring Education

South Dakota

South Dakotans Against Common Core

Tennessee

Tennessee Against Common Core

Texas

Truth in Texas Education

Truth in Catholic Education

West Virginia

WV Against Common Core

Wyoming

Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core