In 2011, the Obama Administration changed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act so third parties would have access to personal student data. This has been a major point of contention on this blog for over a year now. Our children are guinea pigs for state departments of education, the feds, and more corporate education reform companies than you can shake a leg at. But we could have some relief if Bill Evers is selected as the United States Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump.
While I don’t like some of Evers’ thoughts on charter schools and school vouchers, I do immensely enjoy what he said in a hearing on Common Core in Ohio. This is what he said about student data privacy and the changes to FERPA in 2011. Thanks to Education Next for reporting this back in 2013!
Data about Ohio students will flow to the U.S. Department of Education through PARCC, the national test consortium to which Ohio belongs. In return for the money it received from the federal government, PARCC has to provide the U.S, Department of education with its student-level data. Ohio can do nothing about this as long as it is in a federally-funded national test consortium. It would have to leave PARCC to block this process of data transfer.
This issue is of personal concern to me. When I was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, the student privacy office was part of my portfolio. Until December 2011, the U.S. Department of Education interpreted the student privacy protections in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) strictly, but reasonably.
But in 2011, the Obama administration turned those protections upside down. The Obama administration reinterpreted technical terms and provisions of the law to allow access to student personal data to non-education government agencies and to private vendors and contractors. It removed requirements that parents had to give consent if third-parties were given access to student personal data. The Obama administration made this change, in large measure, to facilitating workforce planning by government agencies.
We live in a time of concern about abuse of data collection and data management — by the NSA, the IRS, and other agencies. Ohio policymakers should be concerned about the privacy of student personal data and its possible misuse.
To facilitate workforce planning by government agencies… there we have it! And we thought Hillary Clinton would stop that? Hell no! Is Trump involved in this “workforce planning”? That is the whole point of all that we are seeing in education: Common Core, high-stakes standardized tests, Pathways to Prosperity, all the education technology, the very bad accountability standards, the smoke and mirrors with teachers which are causing more teachers to leave the profession, the educator quick prep programs like Teach For America and Relay Graduate School, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the plethora of companies that are profiting immensely while students do without. All of these were and are designed to create this workforce of tomorrow. A plan geared towards tracking and pushing students into certain career paths. They love to say it is for the greater good, but don’t be fooled! It is control, pure and simple. I don’t trust anything going on at the state or federal level. But I do know a lot of it hinges on the data. And if these companies are robbed of the opportunity to get private information about students, that is a major monkey wrench in their plans.
In 2015, former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy was fighting an opt out bill in the First State. He told the press something to the effect of “It’s the data. The data is important to us.” Don’t quote me on that, but it was all about the data. It was probably the truest thing the guy ever said. When will we reach the point when we can firmly put this corporate education reform era to bed? When can educators get the respect they need and our students can learn without being subjected to being nothing more than lab rats for government and corporate agendas? There is no better time like the present!
There is a petition already out on Change.org to send to President Trump to have Evers appointed as the next United States Secretary of Education. Please sign the petition NOW!