The US Department of Education is asking for comments, “In accordance with Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” the Department of Education (Department) is seeking input on regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.”  PLEASE COMMENT – if only a few words.  It does NOT have to be fancy.   These are your children.

You could comment on why weakening FERPA in 2008 and 2011 via Rule Change by the US Department of Ed that bypassed Congress and weakened FERPA was wrong and needs to be repealed.

You could say you oppose a National Student Tracking Database to share student data.

You could say you oppose mandating online Personalized Education and tracking every mouse click.

You could say you oppose ESSA and SEL.

You could say there is NO transparency, NO  accountability, NO guarantee that student data will be used appropriately and safely, and NO penalty for misuse or breach.  The only way to really protect data is to not collect it in the first place.  Minimize data sharing rather than increase it and give parents the power to consent / opt out of data collection.  #FIXFERPA  because everyone deserves privacy.

You could say that huge data breaches and hacks are happening daily, in schools, at the federal level.  For years, many have said that student data collection is out of control, now is the time to stop the collection. As EdSurge recently reported, The State of Surveillance in Schools Might Lead to the Next Equifax Disaster:

“Imagine a breach like the Equifax one we just had, but occurring with students’ browsing history, the search strings of the school counselor or geolocation of all students in the school,” says privacy blogger Bill Fitzgerald, noting the risks companies are taking while gathering sensitive information on students.

Here is a little-known-fact, FERPA laws regarding a parent’s right to access video footage is unclear. There have been a few court cases where judges ruled that video footage obtained by school officials or other district contractors were not considered education records and were, therefore, not the right of students or parents to access.

In 2013, HeroK12 began offering educators an opportunity to collect and analyze student behavior data. Through its software, every tardy and dress code violation is recorded, stored and analyzed on individual, class and school levels. The violations and consequences are easily tallied with automated responses, and teachers, administrators and students can view the data. HeroK12 is currently used in more than 650 schools around the United States. Other similar technologies include Kickboard and LiveSchool. And cameras have moved from hallways to classrooms, with technology and security companies actively marketing them to schools.

Doug Levin, an industry expert who has been carefully tracking data breaches in the K-12 school districts, echoes Fitzgerald’s concern, saying, “It is incredibly hard for even the most tech-savvy companies to secure potentially valuable information. It’s not a question of if a breach will happen, it is sort of like when and how do I respond.” Since 2016 he has identified more than 200 cybersecurity related incidents in schools.

Levin also takes issue with the algorithmic method in which technology tracks and responds to student behavior. “I understand why these tracking technologies might be appealing to some administrators. There are ways it can save students. But it is a very slippery slope down to Minority Report” –EdSurge

Don’t Collect What You Can’t Protect.   The only true way to protect data is to minimize data collection, don’t collect or share it in the first place.

 

If you want to see comments already submitted to USDoE on what regulations to repeal,  click here.

For example, you can see that SIIA, the mega funded lobbying group who represents the edtech and Software Industry, sent in this comment. (This is the same SIIA who testified against several state data privacy bills, not surprising, they want access to student data.  Data is money after all.  It’s just not their data to be taking in the first place.)

 

Whatever your position, please comment before midnight tonight.  Thanks!

 

Cheri Kiesecker