"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why You Should Read The FERPA Form This Year

Many parents are busy filling out dozens of school forms right now.  Mixed in that paperwork is the FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) form that indicates your approval for the school to share your child's data. In years past most people paid little attention to this form as it seemed to apply mostly to sharing transcripts with colleges, military recruiters and school ring companies. They were most critical to families with messy domestic situations, people in witness protection or extreme privacy fanatics.

But given the regulatory changes that were approved recently by the DoEd, more parents should be paying closer attention to what they put in those forms. The new FERPA rules to allow all data collected by the school to be shared with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Corrections, private researchers and other vendors approved by DoEd. They received no legislative approval for this change.

Here are links to just some of the letters that were sent by organizations (incuding EPIC) that expressed concerns over the change to FERPA.

1) American Assoc. of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
3) Electronic Privacy Information Center
4) National School Boards Association
5) American Council on Education
6) National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

You may want to consider sending in a replacement Opt Out form like this one instead which states specifically what information they may share, rather than a blanket approval for information which you may not even be aware they are collecting.

To learn more about what is happening with your child's private data, go to Sheila Kaplan's site Education New York and Information Policy Watch. Also check out Diane Ravitch's blog Who Cares About Privacy Rights.  Be sure to read the comments on her page as they are made by the people who have been following this issue most closely and really know their stuff.

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