Watching Student Data Privacy Issue Means Not Watching Student Data

Let the truth be known, I have a larger online footprint than your average youngster. There’s plenty you can glean about Eddie just from this site, including that I’m a fictional longtime 5-year-old who likes Legos, football, and video games; considers myself an exceptionally gifted blogger; and has a unique obsession with keeping an eye on the world of education.

But just exactly how much is the world of education keeping an eye on little old me? Fueled by growing concerns about the Common Core and the federal role in education, the issue of student data privacy in this fragile Internet age has taken on a life of its own.

A couple of yesterday’s headlines from different parts of the country give a clue. The Florida state senate just overwhelmingly passed legislation that “would ban school districts from being able to collect and retain information on the political or religious affiliation of students and their parents.” Meanwhile, the Kansas house is preparing to take up a similar measure.

These states aren’t alone, as the issue has been addressed in various ways across the fruited plains of America. Right in our own backyard, Colorado state Rep. Carole Murray is carrying House Bill 1294, labeled the Student Data Privacy Act.

But Aimee Randall, representing a group of local moms who have done extensive homework on this issue, wrote this week on Complete Colorado Page Two that HB 1294 falls short of providing all the needed protections.

She notes that the bill does not address the holes at the local level where outside groups could acquire student data through a breach. She is also concerned that the House Education Committee rejected any way for parents to opt their children out of the state’s data collection.

There are definitely some issues to be fixed. Parents need to be empowered with decisions not only about school choice but also about important issues of their students’ privacy — especially any videos or any data points that aren’t needed to help meet a student’s basic educational / instructional needs.

And as education employees honor the position of trust in which parents place them, Colorado agencies need to ensure practices that keep important student information out of the hands of those who don’t need to see it.

I’ll stick to watching the big issues of K-12 education in Colorado, and hope the individual student information is kept securely out of sight.