Proposed student data privacy bill does little to protect privacy (update)
By Valerie Strauss March 23
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) is one of the sponsors of the new House student data privacy bill. (David Zalubowski/AP)
(Update: legislators did not introduce legislation on Monday as planned).
Two U.S. legislators are set to introduce a bill in the House that they say is aimed at limiting the way education technology companies can use data that they collect about students from kindergarten through the 12th grade. It’s called the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, and its chief sponsors say it is meant to address a growing concern among students, parents and educators about the use of the oceans of data being collected about America’s young people. But a new analysis of the legislation, which you can read below, concludes that it doesn’t do much to protect the privacy of student data — and that it doesn’t stop the actual collection and mining of data by companies, which can use it to make money.
Student data privacy has become a big issue in the era of standardized testing, with education companies collecting a seemingly endless amount of information on public school students, some of it incredibly detailed.
Last year, a controversial $100 million student data collection project funded by the Gates Foundation and operated by a specially created nonprofit organization called InBloom shut down after concerns about privacy led states to withdraw. The information was to be stored in a data cloud that would hold incredibly detailed data points on millions of schoolchildren with the stated mission of allowing education officials to use the information to target educational support. Activists led by New York’s Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, raised alarms that InBloom could not provide a 100 percent guarantee that the data could be stored securely.
The House sponsors of the proposed bill are Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.); Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also is expected to introduce student privacy legislation. In February, the White House issued a statement about its efforts to improve data privacy that said it was working with these legislators on advancing student data privacy. Polis and Messer were expected to introduce the bill on Monday but did not; a spokewoman for Messer said in an e-mail that a draft bill had been released and the sponsors were working on technical details before formally introducing it.
The draft Polis-Messer bill is called the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act. But Haimson said in a piece on the Student Privacy Matters Web site that the bill addresses virtually none of the concerns that parents have about what is being done with data about their children. She said:
“The bill doesn’t require any parental notification or consent before schools share personal data with third parties, or address any of the current weaknesses in FERPA. It wouldn’t stop the surveillance of students by Pearson or other companies, or the collection and sharing of huge amounts of highly sensitive student information, as inBloom was designed to do.”
“All the bill does is ban online services utilized by schools from targeting ads to kids – or selling their personal information, though companies could still advertise to kids through their services and or sell their products to parents, as long as this did not result from the personal information gathered through their services. Even that narrow prohibition is incomplete, as vendors would still be allowed to target ads to students as long as the ads were selected based on information gathered via student’s single online session or visit – with the information not retained over time.”
Rachael Stickland, Colorado co-chair of the Parent Coalition, said:
“The bill doesn’t bar many uses of personal information that parents are most concerned about, including vendor redisclosures to other third parties, or data-mining to improve their products or create profiles that could severely limit student’s success by stereotyping them and limiting their opportunities.”
Here are other weaknesses of the bill, as identified by Haimson and Stickland:
- Parents would not be able to delete any of the personal information obtained by a vendor from their children, even upon request, unless the data resulted from an “optional” feature of the service chosen by the parent and not the district or school.
- Vendors would be able to redisclose students’ personal information to an unlimited number of additional third parties, as long as these disclosures were made for undefined “K12 purposes.”
- Vendors would be able to redisclose individual student’s de-identified or aggregate information for any reason or to anyone, without restrictions or safeguards to ensure that the child’s information could not be easily re-identified through widely available methods.
Protection of Religious Freedom Passes Indiana House
American Family Association of Indiana
March 23, 2015
Good news from the Indiana legislature! The Indiana House just passed Senate Bill 101 with an even larger number of votes than it had last week during consideration of floor amendments.
SB 101 is a protection of religious freedom, freedom of conscience and religious practice bill for people of all faiths, from government hostility. It elevates our religious liberties to the same level as 19 other states in statute, and 30 states, in practice. It also brings Indiana law into line with the Supreme Court and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 which passed unanimously in the US House and 97-3 in the US Senate.
It passed with a strong 63-31 vote in spite of a mountain of confusion, misinformation, scare tactics, bad theology, and lies about what has been long-established precedent for two decades. The Senate will agree to the minor clarification in the House committee requested by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and then it will go on to Governor Pence for his signature.
Truth and freedom won. It won over fear and lies. It did so with your help, prayers, and standing strong.
Thank you for standing with AFA of Indiana in support of SB 101.
It Happened in March
This month, we wanted to hi-light two March “firsts” from American history that center on presidential appointments.
On March 22, 1790, Thomas Jefferson began serving as America’s first Secretary of State under the Constitution.This appointment had been made by President George Washington and approved by the U. S. Senate in September of 1789. As the Secretary of State, Jefferson’s primary job to be “the president’s chief foreign affairs adviser.” He also took on other major responsibilities as well — such as laying out the grounds for the brand new federal capital that was to be build in Washington, D. C.
On March 18, 1877, civil rights leader and Gospel minister Frederick Douglass became the first African American confirmed by the U. S. Senate to serve in a presidential appointment. He had been selected by President Rutherford B. Hayes to be the Marshal of Washington, D.C — a position established to “support the federal courts.” His responsibilities included serving “the subpoenas, summonses, writs, warrants and other process issued by the courts, [making] all the arrests and [handling] all the prisoners.” Prior to this appointment, Douglass had held various positions under previous presidents, but none had required Senate confirmation. In all, Douglass served under four Republican presidents.
Because of Amnesty, the IRS Will Now Perform a Special Favor for Illegals that Will Cost You Big Time
American Prosperity News Network
Just like like the God-awful Affordable Care Act, Obama’s Executive Order to give millions of illegals amnesty is packed full of hidden surprises. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen only recently told Congress illegals would not be getting refunds. But in what seems to be an unexpected “change of mind,” he informed Congress the opposite is true.
It’s been revealed by the IRS illegals who are offered amnesty will be entitled to a refund… even though they didn’t pay taxes. For years illegals have robbed the taxpayers of tax money through special government programs for illegals, but now, because of Obama’s executive order, they’re going to be getting even more of your tax dollars.
All of this will happen when the illegal aliens are given new Social Security numbers as provided by the Obama administration.
You can be sure with this policy in effect there’s going to be yet another call for higher taxes to help cover the expense.
Koskinen said the President didn’t consult the IRS about the ripple effects of his amnesty policy.
Well, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. After years saying he wasn’t a king, and didn’t have the authority to pass legislation, Obama went ahead and usurped power from the congress and got what he wanted by means of executive order.
House Republicans (who seem to be the only ones with fortitude these days) have resisted the executive order. Republican members from Ohio even penned a letter and sent it to Obama protesting his move.
“While we may disagree about whether your deferred action programs were lawfully created and implemented, we are confident that we can all agree that these programs cannot be permitted to impair the integrity of our election,” they wrote.
And this will really tick people off… Koskinen has even hinted illegals will be able to file for back-credits. As The Washington Times writes:
He also clarified his testimony to the Senate last week, where he acknowledged illegal immigrants who had paid taxes using substitute Social Security numbers but who gain real Social Security numbers when they are approved for the amnesty can apply for back-refunds of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
On Wednesday, he said even illegal immigrants who didn’t pay taxes will be able to apply for back-credits once they get Social Security numbers.
The EITC is a refundable tax credit, which means those who don’t have any tax liability can still get money back from the government.
Under the new program, if you get a Social Security number and you work, you’ll be eligible to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Mr. Koskinen said.
He said that would apply even “if you did not file” taxes, as long as the illegal immigrant could demonstrate having worked off-the-books during those years.
The insanity of it all boggles the mind.
With as many as 4 million illegals expected to be covered by the amnesty order, and with the average credit being $500-$600 you can be sure every single dime of that money will come out of your federal taxes.
It’s just one more illegal and unconstitutional program you and every other red-blooded American is being forced to pay against your will.
Yet again Obama has defied his oath of office and the American people suffer because of his illegal activity.
The Conservative Problem With the Latest Version of No Child Left Behind
This week, the House of Representatives will vote on an ambitious rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act, which is the most far-reaching K-12 federal education law ever created.
Under consideration is a 620-page proposal called the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), which Republican leadership says will scale back Washington’s involvement in local education.
But conservatives say the measure doesn’t go far enough in doing that.
“This proposal spends nearly as much as No Child Left Behind, is nearly as long in page length, and fails to give states an option to opt out of the law,” said Lindsey Burke, The Heritage Foundation’s Will Skillman Fellow in Education. “As it stands, it’s a huge missed opportunity to restore state and local control of education.”
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The Obama administration also opposes the legislation, fearing that it would be detrimental to schools nationwide. If the bill were to reach his desk, the president’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, suggested that Obama would issue a veto.
“As of today, this isn’t something we could support,” he told a group of reporters on Monday.
The Student Success Act would consolidate dozens of programs authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now known as No Child Left Behind) and grant states more flexibility in how they use roughly $2.3 billion federal education dollars.
The problem, conservatives say, is that the legislation only gives states flexibility within a limited range of the programs that fall under No Child Left Behind, and more importantly, it does not allow states to completely opt out of the law, which has long been their goal.
In an effort to fix that, Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., and Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., introduced an amendment to the Student Success Act that would allow states to withdraw completely from almost every aspect of No Child Left Behind—if they so choose.
“Innovation starts locally—not in Washington,” said Walker of the conservative amendment, called Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS).
Teachers and parents know best how to meet the unique needs of their children and students, and we have seen time and time again that Washington’s top-down approach does not work.
A-PLUS has been introduced in various Congresses and was intended to provide an alternative to states that did not want to participate in No Child Left Behind. For years, states have pushed back against No Child Left Behind due to its mandates and unworkable policies.
DeSantis said the amendment “liberates states from burdensome and ineffective regulations, providing local communities with the flexibility to use federal education funding for programs that they believe will best increase the success of students in the classroom.”
Infographic: Kelsey Harris
In addition to allowing states to withdraw from the 80-plus programs created under No Child Left Behind, conservatives are also advocating for policies that expand the concept of portability, which is perhaps the opposition’s biggest point of contention with the Student Success Act.
As it’s currently written, the Student Success Act would allow states to make Title I dollars allocated to low-income school districts to be portable to public and charter schools.
In a perfect world for conservatives, students could use Title I dollars in a private school of their choice.
In doing so, money could follow a student to an education option that best suits his or her unique learning needs, which proponents argue provides students who are trapped in failing schools a way out.
“Title I formula funding is some of the most complex in education law and all too often, does not reach the students who it was intended to help,” said Burke. “Portability would move towards funding students instead of districts and empower families with control over education policies that affect their children every day.”
Democrats believe portability robs funds from vulnerable, low-income school districts, and instead directs them to wealthier school districts that don’t need Title I dollars.
Duncan said the current portability provision included in the Student Success Act would be “devastating” to the nation’s poorest schools, stripping them of education funding they can’t afford to lose.
“Rather than helping improve the schools that need it most, the Republican bill would actually cut investments in these schools while increasing funds for some of the wealthiest areas in the country,” he said in a statement.
That approach is backward. We can’t just cut our way to opportunity. Our kids deserve better. Every child—no matter his or her ZIP code—deserves a quality education, including access to high-quality preschool and a fair shot at getting ahead.
As an alternative, the Senate Education Committee is drafting their own version of the Student Success Act, one that they believe could pass with bipartisan support.
“Bipartisan discussions between [Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.,] and [Sen. Patty Murray’s, D-Wash.,] staffs on fixing No Child Left Behind are moving along well, and Sen. Alexander remains positive that they can reach agreement on key issues,” an aide for Alexander, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, told The Daily Signal yesterday.
“Sen. Alexander remains positive that they can reach agreement on key issues. [He] hopes to fix this broken law to help states, school districts, and schools better serve all students,” she added.
Alexander and Murray have not released details of the proposal.
With the Obama administration already suggesting that the president would veto the Student Success Act—and the Senate working on their own bipartisan version—the chances of enacting any legislation that includes the conservative A-PLUS solution are bleak.
But that won’t stop Walker from trying.
“The president has threatened to veto practically everything under the sun and yesterday’s veto of Keystone clearly showed he is more interested in playing politics than working with Congress,” said Walker, adding:
Parents and teachers—not government bureaucrats—should have the ultimate say in education. They know best how to meet the unique needs of their children and students. A-PLUS further empowers states and offers greater flexibility in federal education spending. It is smart, conservative education reform that strengthens the broader goal of the Student Success Act to remove the federal government from classrooms.
ACTION ALERT: STOP HR 5
Parents Against Common Core
Congressional Leadership Is Bull-Rushing Through HR5, the 600 Page Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (rebranded the “Student Success Act”)
The House votes this week. Call your Representative and call the Speaker of the House and tell them to vote “NO” on HR 5! 202-224-3121.
Below are just a few of the problems.
1. HR5 Denigrates Parental Rights and Seizes State Sovereignty
- No program shall “operate within a State, unless the legislature of that State shall have . . . waived the State’s rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance.” (Sec. 6561) (emphasis added).
- Federal requirements will trump the rights “reserved to the States and individual Americans by the United States Constitution” to lead in the education of their child. (Sec. 6564)
- Requires states to change laws and regulations to “conform” to HR5. (Sec. 1403)
- Alters the governance structures of states by requiring them to form “Committees of Practitioners” to whom the state must submit rules and regulations. (Sec. 1403)
2. HR5 Does Nothing to Relieve Children From No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB’s) Oppressive Testing Requirements.
3. Feds Will Effectively Direct State Education Policy through Enhanced Continuation of Heavy-Handed NCLB Policies
- Requires states to demonstrate to the federal government that their standards, assessments, and state accountability systems meet the goal of “prepar[ing] all students to graduate high school for postsecondary education or the workforce.” (Sec. 1001)
- Requires states to submit comprehensive state plans, which the Secretary can disapprove. (Sec. 1111)
- States had to make the same showing and meet the same definitional goal to receive NCLB waivers and Race to the Top grants.. HR5 allows for a Common Core “rebrand.” (Sec. 1001) and (Sec. 1111(3)(A))
- Prohibitions against the Secretary forcing states into adopting Common Core are meaningless.
4. Increases Federal Data Collection To Control Curriculum
- Empowers the Department of Education to request individual student and teacher data from State and Local Education Agencies.
- Authorizes substantial new funding to use this data to evaluate whether schools are using “effective” instructional methods. (Sec. 2111(b)(1)(A)) and (Sec. 2132)
Governor Pence takes a stand for freedom and local control of education
Heather Crossin • February 18, 2015 • Hoosiers Against Common Core
Last week, Governor Pence took a stand for restoring freedom and local control to Indiana schools, when he chose to publicly support Senator Schneider’s “Freedom in Testing” bill, SB470. The bill, which would allow private schools that accept vouchers to choose from a variety of nationally norm-referenced assessments to comply with state accountability measures, rather than being forced to administer the New ISTEP, passed the Senate Education and Career Committee by a vote of 7-3. It did so with the public support of Governor Mike Pence, whose education advisor, Chad Timmerman, testified on its behalf. It is now headed to the Appropriations Committee, where it will be heard this Thursday morning, February 19th, at 9:00am in room 431 of the Statehouse.
During the hearing, democrat committee members questioned Senator Schneider over the bill’s exclusion of public schools, and asked if it would provide an unfair advantage to voucher schools over public schools. While Senator Schneider explained that accountability measures can be maintained using multiple tests, and stated that he would welcome an amendment to include public schools if that was amenable to them, none was offered. Instead, democrats opposed the bill, preferring that all schools function under the control of the New ISTEP, which has been denounced by public and private schools alike. While at this point, SB470 pertains only to private schools that accept vouchers, we believe it is an important first step, which will pave the way for liberating public and charter schools, as well, from the New ISTEP assessment that binds them.
The fact that Indiana’s School Choice program was rated by the Center for Education Reform as the “second worst in the country on infringing on private school autonomy,” speaks volumes about the need for SB470. Only one-third of Indiana’s private schools (317 out of 969) are currently registered to participate in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program, according to a report released by the Friedman Foundation this past November.
Likewise, an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) report released last month, corroborates that a major impediment to private school participation in Indiana’s voucher program is the concern over testing requirements and over-regulation. A full 62% of private school leaders who were surveyed cited “concerns about future regulations” as a major factor in their decision not to participate, while an additional 19 percent cited it as a minor factor. Not surprisingly, the AEI report recommends that Indiana “hold private schools accountable in ways that do not threaten their independence and autonomy…private schools value their autonomy and ability to provide an alternative to public schooling. Regulations that require the adoption of state criterion-referenced tests or state curriculum standards impede their ability to offer alternative educational approaches.”
In short, without providing greater freedom to private voucher schools, the general public is quickly beginning to view vouchers as a vehicle not to increase parental choice, but as a lasso with which the government intends to corral private schools into their one-size fits all system. If Republican lawmakers truly believe in the concept of school choice and local control, schools that accept vouchers must be afforded the same liberty as those participating under the Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) program.
Please call or email your legislators, Senate Pro Tem David Long, and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and ask them to support SB470, which puts the word “choice” back into the meaning of “school choice” in Indiana!
Who Should We Trust, Parents or the State?
American Family Association of Indiana February 23, 2015; 9:00 a,m,
There is a disturbing bill concerning vaccination policy in the Indiana House of Representatives. House Bill 1359 passed the Health Committee last week. It is unacceptable as written.
HB 1359 is a major policy shift away from parents and local schools, over to the Indiana Department of Health in Indianapolis.
HB 1359 gives the Indiana Department of Health new powers over medical matters best left up to parents and their local physician.
HB 1359 seeks universal vaccination for a disease that is not easily communicable or carried as an airborne pathogen. This makes it very different from measles or mumps.
HB 1359 will push parents to vaccinate young pre-teen children for a sexually transmitted disease. Such sensitive decisions are best left up to parents and their local family physician.
Current policies respect the decision making process of parents concerning sexually transmitted diseases and the values that such matters understandably involve.
This is not a debate over common vaccines. However, the new HPV vaccines, which HB 1359 promotes, are very controversial and have legitimate medical questions surrounding their effectiveness and safety.
Current laws on vaccinations, and informing parents about their importance, are sufficient. HB 1359 is not needed. It gives the Indiana Department of Health broad new powers in this arena. HB 1359 is unacceptable in its current form.
Please Contact Your Representative in the Indiana House before they vote on this legislation later today.
You can call the House switchboard at 317-232-9600.
You can find your State Representative here: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/
Muslim Brotherhood Makes Major Move INSIDE the United States
Friday, January 16th, 2015
There may be a chilling political movement happening within the United States. A recent report indicates that radical-leaning Islamic groups may be planning to use America’s own political system to push the country toward a takeover by Shariah law. The respected financial news source Investor’s Business Daily revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood is working to build a political party and organize Muslims to influence U.S. elections.
“Muslim voters have the potential to be swing voters in 2016,” said Nihad Awad, a man behind the new U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, which sounds tame but has connections to radical groups.
The FBI reportedly raided Muslim Brotherhood locations in the wake of 9/11 and found pages of documents that outlined a disturbing plan. The papers listed many organizations that were being used as fronts for the Brotherhood. Those same organizations are part of the new U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations.
Muslim Brotherhood leaders have already influenced politics in many Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt before they were criminalized there. It looks like they now want to expand their plan to include the United States. The Muslim Brotherhood’s own website states that its purpose is to push Shariah Law as “the basis for controlling the affairs of state and society” and to unify “Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states, and liberating them from foreign imperialism.”
Shariah, of course, is the fascist set of rules that force women to wear burqas and allows men to beat them if they refuse. That’s just one example of Shariah’s draconian laws. “USCMO also aims to elect Islamists in Washington, with the ultimate objective of ‘institutionalizing policies’ favorable to Islamists — that is, Shariah law,” stated the Investor’s Business Daily report.
One of the groups that makes up the USCMO is called the Muslim American Society. According to a 2007 Department of Justice document, MAS is “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.”
One recent MAS press release reportedly held up Osama bin Laden as a role model and “a visionary who believed in an Islamic state in Afghanistan.” Just what America needs. Many extremist Muslims have pledged to destroy the country from within, and it looks like they might now be putting the pieces in place.
If you are alarmed by the trend of radical Islam in America, please share this important story on Facebook and Twitter.