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UPDATE:   We have just heard that the Senate staff won in the negotiations, and successfully got protections against unlimited personal student data-mining into the ESRA bill. We will keep watching this bill because they may try to change it again it comes to the Senate floor.

Important News In From the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy

RIGHT NOW, the Senate HELP (Health Education Labor and Pensions committee) is negotiating  the re-authorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act.  Some members of the committee are pushing for relaxing limits on access to personal student data, saying that researchers should be able to obtain open-ended access to complete student data sets– and that they shouldn’t have to even specify which specific student level data they want for what purposes.

We are urging all parents/advocates to call their Senators in DC ASAP and if possible on Monday morning– ESPECIALLY if your Senator is on the HELP committee (listed with links to their contact info below) and especially the Democrats, and ask to speak to their education staffers with the following message:

As regards the Education Sciences Reform Act, student data used by researchers should be de-identified and anonymized to the extent possible.  In NO case should any researcher obtain open-ended access to personally identifiable student data without parental consent.  There must be strict oversight and protocols, and the researcher must explain exactly what type of personal data they need for what particular purpose and why it is absolutely necessary to complete their analysis and why this could not be achieved with anonymized data.

If you have more time to talk, you can point out that there have been more than 700 reported breaches of personal data from educational institutions since 2005 according to  .

You can also point out that the NCES has said that Fair Information Practices require that only personal information that is directly relevant and necessary for the specified purpose should be collected and/or shared.

PURPOSE SPECIFICATION— specifically articulating the authority that permits the collection of personally identifiable information and specifically articulating the purpose or purposes for which the personally identifiable information is intended to be used

DATA MINIMIZATION AND RETENTION— only collecting personally identifiable information that is directly relevant and necessary to accomplish the specified purpose(s). Only retaining personally identifiable information for as long as is necessary to fulfill the specified purpose(s)

USE LIMITATION— using personally identifiable information solely for the purpose(s) specified in the public notice. Sharing information should be for a purpose compatible with the purpose for which the information was collected

It is especially important that parents/advocates who live in the states represented by Democrats on the HELP committee call on Monday.

Senate HELP Committee

Democrats by Rank

Tom Harkin (IA)
Barbara A. Mikulski (MD)
Patty Murray (WA)
Bernard Sanders (I) (VT)
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA)
Kay R. Hagan (NC)
Al Franken (MN)
Michael F. Bennet (CO)
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Tammy Baldwin (WI)
Christopher S. Murphy (CT)
Elizabeth Warren (MA)

Republicans by Rank

Lamar Alexander (TN)
Michael B. Enzi (WY)
Richard Burr (NC)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
Rand Paul (KY)
Orrin G. Hatch (UT)
Pat Roberts (KS)
Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Mark Kirk (IL)
Tim Scott (SC)


For more information see

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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