The article "Parents criticize student database" about the potential commercial use of student data was very disconcerting [News, Oct. 15]. The issue of intrusion into our children's personal information has far greater scope than I ever imagined.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education gave state governors $48.6 billion in exchange for some mandates, including the "development and use of a pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems." In 2011, the department revised its regulations regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which had ensured student privacy since 1974.
The new regulations allow schools to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without written consent of a parent or the student. The long list of disclosure recipients includes the U.S. comptroller general, the U.S. attorney general, the U.S. secretary of education and the state education department. Organizations conducting studies for schools to administer predictive tests and student aid programs or to improve instruction also have nonconsensual access.
Tragically, few parents are aware of this violation of trust in the sanctity of our children's information. Every parent of every child, preschooler through career age, should be concerned. How many organizations will be privy to this data? Why does the government need this personal information for every child?
I am frustrated and disheartened by my inability to protect my own child's identifying information. I am overwhelmed by the realization that an ocean of student data is flowing into all state education departments without parental knowledge or consent. What can we do?
Joan Hanley, Setauket