Browsing articles in "Data Collection and Data Privacy"
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:

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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.

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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

Feb 25, 2015
ELW

S227 (SETRA) is a Federal Data Mining Bill that Destroys Student Privacy

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President

Besides urging a no vote on HR 5, the Student Success Act that replaces No Child Left Behind, please contact your US representatives and Senators to vote NO on S 227, the Senate version of the federal data mining bill.  Having already passed the Senate last year and about to be passed again, it was scheduled for a vote today, Wednesday February 25th in the US House.  That vote was contingent on easy passage in the Senate.  Thankfully, however, as more information comes out about this bill, it is no longer seen as non-controversial, and easy passage is no longer assured in either chamber.  It has been removed from the House calendar pending Senate approval, but thanks to the work of Education Liberty Watch, The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, American Principles in Action, Eagle Forum and others, Senators are objecting.

S 227, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA) reauthorizes the 2002 Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) that has been very problematic, because it started the concept of state longitudinal databases, stepped around the prohibition on a national database by creating “national cooperative education statistics systems,”  allowed personally identifiable information to go to international agencies, and removed the  previous penalties of fines and imprisonment for misusing individual student data. SETRA continues or worsens all of that. Here are four major problems with SETRA (A detailed analysis of these points is available HERE):

1.  SETRA seeks to expand federal psychological profiling of our children
Section 132 of the bill (page 28, line 16-21) inserts the following:
”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…” (Emphasis added).
The US Department of Education (USED) is already a flagrant violation of the Tenth Amendment.  The amount of data collected on individual children, families, and teachers via USED through this law and the weakening and loopholes of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) that provided individual data to the federal government is appalling and a complete violation of the Fourth Amendment as well.  To then give the federal government the right to research the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of free American citizens, especially innocent children, is completely unacceptable and without justification.
2.  SETRA only appears to prohibit a national database.
Section 157 of the bill takes out the word “national” and still only by words, prohibits a national database. While this appears to be an improvement, it unfortunately doesn’t do anything to stop the egregious loss of privacy that has happened since ESRA established the national cooperative statistics systems and state longitudinal databases in 2002.  These databases have been enhanced by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, Stimulus), Race to the Top, and the America COMPETES Act.  In addition they are relying on outdated and weak student privacy laws (FERPA and PPRA), there is no enforcement mechanism, and we have seen how the federal government repeatedly and flagrantly violates its promises not to extend its authority, as with Race to the Top, Common Core and the national tests.
3. The bill continues to rely on a severely outdated and weakened FERPA to protect student privacy.
Both ESRA and SETRA refer to FERPA (20 USC 1232g) in Section 182 and requires data privacy to be handled according to that law.  However, FERPA passed in 1974 long before the presence of interoperable databases and cloud computing.  It also only discusses sanctions on entities that mishandle the data and those, which used to include fines and imprisonment, were severely weakened when ESRA was passed in 2002.  Students, families, and teachers whose sensitive personal and family data about everything from “social and emotional” issues to genetic data in newborn screening data, have no redress.  According to an investigation by Politico, education technology companies are scooping up as many as 10 million unique data points on each child, each day.” (Emphasis added) Finally, FERPA has been severely weakened via regulatory fiat to gut consent requirements and broaden access to data by federal agencies and private entities.

4. SETRA continues the large loophole that renders PPRA ineffective in preventing nosy social questions in curriculum and assessments.
PPRA, cited in section 182 as 20 USC 1232h, prohibits the collection of psychological, political, religious, and other sensitive data in surveys, but not in curriculum and assessments such as in Common Core.