Open letter to US Dept Ed and FERPA: “parents getting in the way”
I contacted the U.S. Department of Education Privacy Technical Assistance Center, PTAC 9 days ago with a fairly simple question about what student-level information (pii data) their Department receives. I am still waiting for an answer. How long do you think it will take for them to discover the information needed to answer this simple inquiry? Shouldn’t they already know this? Maybe it will help if other parents email and ask? privacyTA@ed.gov. Remember PTAC was created by US Dept. of Ed, to give timely information and guidance. See my letter and info on PTAC and then please scroll down to see not so well-known comments on FERPA, “parents getting in the way”. See below.
PTAC was formed because of US DoE’s expansion of K-12 student-level (pii) data collection
” The expanded collection of student-level data across the entire spectrum of education sectors, associated with successful implementation of K-12 and P-20W (early learning through workforce) longitudinal data systems, accelerated by the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program administered since 2005, has increased the need for information on student privacy protection.”
In 2014, PTAC released this list of best practices for achieving transparency with data.
Among the recommendations:
Make information about student data practices and polices easy to find.
Publish a list of the personal student information you collect and you plan to use it.
Make sure parents know what, if any, personal student information you plan to share with third-party vendors.
Effectively communicate your data usage plans and policies to parents and members of the public.
These recommendations were also featured in this 2015 article that interviews Chief Privacy Officer for the U.S. Department of Education Kathleen Styles: The U.S. Department of Education Getting Proactive in the Quest to Protect Student Data
PTAC promotes compliance with FERPA.
I am wondering how the folks at USDoE and PTAC would explain this “FERPA compliance” and advice from one of their “expert advisors” and professed “manager of EdFacts”, Dr. Glynn Ligon Of ESP Solutions. As we reported here yesterday, Dr. Ligon reminds data users there is no need to de-identify data; under FERPA, you can share pii with anyone you choose to authorize:
And speaking of FERPA…
I cannot emphasize enough how you need to at least look at some of these comments. For example there is this regarding the Data Quality Campaign’s Steve Winnick and his comment about the need to rewrite FERPA, and denying parents the right to consent or opt out of their children’s data being disclosed, saying, “we don’t want parents to get in the way.”
Also, if you are not familiar with the USDoE’s changes to FERPA, reading their original proposals from 2008 Final Rule, or the 2011 Final Rule, is helpful. To quote a privacy advocate, “Those documents are very enlightening.” Yes, indeed they are.
Finally, don’t forget to Celebrate Privacy Day, TODAY! Join the “Data Privacy Day” Twitter Chat 1/28 @ 9-10PM EST hashtag #StudentPrivacy