Rachael Stickland testifies before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education

On Wednesday, June 28, 2017, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy co-chair Rachael Stickland was invited to testify before the U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education at a hearing entitled “Exploring Opportunities to Strengthen Education Research While Protecting Student Privacy.” Rachael testified at a similar hearing in March 2016.

The Subcommittee’s press release can be viewed here and Rachael’s full testimony can be found here (and below).

Webcast of the hearing can be viewed here:

For articles about the hearing, please visit the following:

House Hearing on Education Research and Student Privacy

AACROA, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers

June 29, 2017

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On the Hill Today: Education Research and Student Privacy

Politico Morning Education

June 28, 2017

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Student Privacy in Education Research: ‘It’s Time’ to Update Federal Laws

Education Week by Sarah D. Sparks

June 28, 2017


Join us on June 30 for student data deletion day!

As a parent I was always happy that my child started out with a clean slate each year. Right now schools & their vendors collect far too much personal data — and use them in ways that are non- transparent and vulnerable to breaches.  Parents are justifiably fearful that negative incidents in their children’s past may enter into their “permanent record” and create damaging stereotypes that might bias their teachers against them, or be inserted into algorithms with discriminatory outcomes– creating self-fulfilling prophecies. This is why we support Bradley Shear’s brilliant concept of “data deletion” day — to urge schools to allow kids the freedom to create their own future, without being burdened by data that could be breached or used against them –or pin them down to the past. 

Check out Brad’s post below – reprinted from his must -read blog  — and feel free to use the template letter he designed to send to your children’s schools, urging them to delete any non-essential personal data for your child on June 30, and asking them to demand their vendors do the same.  –Leonie Haimson

Our K-12 public schools are collecting an enormous amount of data about our kids that will pre-determine whether their dream schools will give their applications a fair assessment and if prospective employers will give them a chance to interview for an opening.

The type and amount of data being accumulated and stored by our public schools and third-party vendors is staggering.  For example, some elementary schools deploy identification cards with RFID chips that track when and how many times our kids go to the bathroom, how long they spend inside a bathroom stall while taking care of their personal business, and how many times they go to the water fountain along with all of their daily movements in and within the school’s property. Other schools utilize biometric palm readers that scan our kids’ hand or fingerprints to track everything our kids buy in the school cafeteria. All of this cumulative data is a honey pot for colleges, employers, insurance companies, data brokers, cyber criminals, foreign governments, etc…

Every time our kids may be admonished for talking out of turn or texting in class they may receive a permanent demerit in Class Dojo.  In the near future, classrooms may be filled with cameras and other tracking technologies that also analyze our kids every interaction with their teachers and class mates. This is not some type of crazy prediction; in China, this Orwellian future is already a reality.

Multiple companies in the educational technology space have intentionally misled students, parents, teachers, administrators, and lawmakers about how they are using the personal data they are collecting about our kids in school. For example, Google was caught intentionally scanning student emails for advertising and other troubling purposes despite prior promises it was not.  ConnectEDU tried to sell personal student data for profit when it went bankrupt despite promising not to do so. Edmodo, another educational technology company, was recently caught surreptitiously tracking students online to monetize their web surfing habits despite promises to the contrary.

As a parent and privacy advocate, I have come to the realization that more needs to be done to raise awareness about these issues and to effectuate change. Therefore, I am calling for all K-12 public schools and their vendors to automatically delete the following data points each and every June 30th after the school year has ended:

-All student Internet browsing history
-All student school work saved on platforms such as the Google G Suite
-All student created emails (and all other digital communications)
-All behavioral data points/saved class interactions (e.g. Class Dojo data points)
-All student physical location data points  (e.g. obtained via RFID tags)
-All biometric data collected and tied to a student account (e.g. meal  purchase information)
-Etc…
An Easy To Follow School-Data-Deletion-Request-Template

This is just the beginning of the conversation and as our schools collect more data points on our kids more data will need to be automatically deleted at the end of each school year. Each public school system and their vendors must be required to certify in writing that the requested data deletion has occurred.

None of these above data points were kept on the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, or Generation X so they are not needed to be collected and saved for future generations. If we really want to make “America Great Again,” kids should be allowed to be kids without the fear that their every move is tied to them for the rest of their lives.

Some educational technology vendors, industry funded think tanks/associations, and academics (e.g. George Mason University’s Law & Economics Center) may falsely claim deleting this data will harm our children and deprive parents and teachers of the knowledge they need to make more informed choices. Some arguments against automatic data deletion may include: it should be the parents choice, the data is needed for personalization, the information is needed to help improve the service offering so it will help better educate our kids, etc…

None of these arguments are valid and should not be believed. Parents should not have to opt into protecting their children’s privacy, safety, security, and future. If a parent doesn’t want their child’s data deleted then they have the right to opt out of automatic data deletion.

Privacy is the corner stone of a free and vibrant democracy.  Therefore, we need to start by better protecting our kids in school. The amount of data being collected on our children is staggering and no matter how hard I have advocated for stronger student data privacy laws and for stronger digital privacy laws, I have been out gunned by lobbyists funded by companies that relish an Orwellian society they can easily monetize.

As a parent, for the sake of our kids and future generations, I ask that you support National Student Data Deletion Day on June 30th by sending in an email or snail mail demanding that your public school system and their vendors start an annual purge of all the unnecessary data points collected about our kids.

Before our kids email and other school provided digital accounts are set up for the following school year, all prior non-essential data (most of the data is non-essential) should be deleted. Our children should be given a fresh start every school year just like we were when we attended school.

Data discrimination is real and to help prevent it now is the time to act before its too late!  Please HELP OUR KIDS BE KIDS IN THE DIGITAL AGE! — Bradley Shear

 

Our co-chair Rachael testifies before Congress tomorrow!

Rachael Stickland, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy is the lead off witness tomorrow  Wednesday June 28, 2017 before the US House subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education – testifying before Congress on student privacy for the second time in two years.
 
You can watch her starting at 10 AM here:

Toolkit webinar now available online!

If you were unable to join our May 23rd webinar on how to use the Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy to protect your child’s sensitive data, don’t worry! You can watch the webinar now HERE or below.

If you haven’t downloaded the toolkit yet, please do so HERE.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Advocates Release Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy

For more information:
Rachael Stickland, (303) 204-1272 rachael@studentprivacymatters.org
Josh Golin, (617) 896-9369, josh@commercialfreechildhood.org

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 – Amid growing concerns about data privacy and surveillance, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy (PCSP) and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) have created an important resource for parents to understand and safeguard students’ personal information.

The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy: A Practical Guide for Protecting Your Child’s Sensitive School Data from Snoops, Hackers, and Marketers is a vital resource in an age where nearly all school records are stored digitally, and where learning, homework, and administrative tasks are increasingly conducted online. Available free to parents on CCFC and PCSP’s websites, the Toolkit offers clear guidance about federal laws that do—and don’t—protect students’ privacy, helps parents ask the right questions about their schools’ data policies, and offers simple steps parents can take to advocate for better privacy policies and practices in their children’s schools.

Rachael Stickland, Co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, explained that many parents are under the false impression that sensitive student records are stored securely in a paper file under lock and key in the principal’s office. “As a parent of two school-aged children, I know first-hand how difficult it is to comprehend the sheer amount of digital data students generate during the course of a normal school day and what that means for our children’s future. With districts outsourcing operations like bus, cafeteria, and instructional services to vendors who store student personal data in the ‘cloud’ and share it with third parties, including state and federal agencies, it’s more important than ever for parents to take some control over their children’s information. It’s not too late to take action when it comes to protecting our children’s privacy.”

A new report issued by the Electronic Frontier Foundation found that students’ activities and information are being monitored by tech companies through devices and software used in classrooms. The data collected by schools and technology vendors often include kids’ names, birth dates, browsing histories, grades, test scores, disabilities, disciplinary records, and more, without adequate privacy and security protections or the consent of parents. Yet few guides exist to help parents navigate the confusing patchwork of laws and regulations that govern student privacy, or help them promote stronger protections.

Other currently available resources are overly technical, filled with jargon, or skewed to the interests of educational technology companies rather than parents and students. CCFC and PCSCP’s new Toolkit, designed with input from experts in education, data privacy, and federal law, is designed to put the needs of families first.

“You shouldn’t need a PhD or law degree to ensure that your child’s sensitive student data isn’t shared with commercial entities,” said Josh Golin, Executive Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “Our Toolkit demystifies student privacy and empowers parents to set limits on who accesses the information collected by schools and other third parties about their children.”

Stefanie Fuhr, a Minnesota mother of three, said, “I will be sharing the Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy with parents, teachers, and school administrators, because I don’t think many are aware of the use and potential misuse of a child’s educational data, which can have a profound impact on a child’s future prospects. I plan to meet with my school’s principal with a copy of the Toolkit in hand, and start the conversation with the suggested questions it provides.”

“The Toolkit is comprehensive and quite informative,” said Tim Farley, a father and high school principal in New York. “It is appealing to the eye, written in a manner that’s easy to understand by most parents, and it has the information parents need to protect their children’s privacy.”

Education and privacy advocates are hailing this unique new resource. Faith Boninger of the National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado Boulder, said, “The toolkit is a great resource. It walks parents through the many ways that children’s data may be collected and used without their knowledge or consent, and explains what they can do about it. It explains federal student privacy law in plain English. And it includes specific, useful models for advocacy, like questions that parents can ask teachers and principals, and letters to opt out of specific types of data-sharing.”

“The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy is a powerhouse resource for parents, educators and school districts,” said Laura Bowman, President of the PAA-Roanoke Valley chapter of the public education advocacy group Parents Across America. “By providing easily understood explanations of laws and legal rights, best practices, questions to ask, and ways to advocate for their children, the Toolkit empowers parents with the information they need to ensure their child’s sensitive information is safeguarded.”

Phyllis Bush, Co-founder of Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, and a Board member of the Network for Public Education, said “Technology has made information readily available with a click, but what do our children pay in the loss of privacy? Reading through the Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy, and following the typical journey of a child through a data-mined school experience, is a stark reminder of the perils that lie before our children. The Toolkit will give parents the tools to pushback against the assault on our children’s privacy.”

The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy can be downloaded at www.studentprivacymatters.org/toolkit. PCSP and CCFC will co-sponsor a webinar on May 23, 2017, to help parents effectively use the toolkit’s resources.

The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy was made possible by a grant from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment.

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