Turning Private Information of Florida’s Children Over to the Education for Profit Industry


It’s quickly moved under the radar, and SB 878 will be considered by the Senate Appropriations today. Misleading titled Education Accountability on the senate website, Sen. Bill Galvano’s (R-Bradenton) bill follows adjustments Sec. of Education Arne Duncan made to the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act (1974) as a means to solidify Common Core Standard grip on education policy. Sheila Kaplan explains:

As the 45 states that have adopted Common Core Standards begin implementation serious concerns are being raised about the impact on the privacy of students and their families. The federal Family Educational Rights Privacy Act, or FERPA, was enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of education records and directory information, which includes name, address, phone number, date of birth, and e-mail address, among other personally identifiable information.

Schools are a rich source of personal information about children that can be legally and illegally accessed by third parties. With incidences of identity theft, database hacking, and sale of personal information rampant, there is an urgent need to protect students’ rights under FERPA and raise awareness of aspects of the law that may compromise the privacy of students and their families.

In 2008 and 2011, amendments to FERPA gave third parties, including private companies, increased access to student data. It is significant that in 2008, the amendments to FERPA expanded the definitions of “school officials” who have access to student data to include “contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other parties to whom an educational agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions it would otherwise use employees to perform.” This change has the effect of increasing the market for student data.

For example, the amendments give companies like Google and Parchment access to education records and other private student information. Students are paying the cost to use Google’s “free” servers by providing access to their sensitive data and communications.

The 2011 amendments allow the release of student records for non-academic purposes and undermine parental consent provisions. The changes also promote the public use of student IDs that enable access to private educational records.

Predictably, any education legislation advanced by a republican in Florida is, well, doesn’t advertise the whole story. Here’s SB 878’s abstract:

Education Accountability; Requiring the State Board of Education to notify the Legislature of any major changes in federal law which may affect the state’s K-20 education performance accountability system; requiring the Board of Governors to make available to the Department of Education all data within the State University Database System which is to be integrated into the K-20 data warehouse; revising provisions relating to schools that are assigned school grades, including colocated schools, and students whose assessment data is used in determining school grades, etc

That “federal law” is FERPA and “K-20 data” are whatever private information the education for profit industry can mine from test data of Florida’s children. Small wonder that even some conservative firebrands like Michelle Malkin are raising the alarm about the federal power grab that Common Core Standards promises.

I’ve always wondered if Florida’s republican legislators really have full understanding of what it is they’re signing on to. Do they just do as they are told by leadership, Jeb Bush and the Florida Chamber of Commerce?  Are they willing accomplices to the effort to privatize the entire nation’s education apparatus?

Or is it a scandalous combination of each?

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About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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One Response to Turning Private Information of Florida’s Children Over to the Education for Profit Industry

  1. tom james says:

    FloriDUH’s Republican legislators could care less about student’s privacy. They are in Obama’s back pocket and sucking off the federal tit even though the Constitution stipulates states have authority over public education matters.
    Note: FloriDUH’s corrupt and dysfunctional Republican legislature received $700 million in Race to the Bottom funding from Duncan and the feds.
    They have been bought and paid for by Obama.

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