[From Parent Coalition for Student Privacy Press Release May 16, 2017]
“Amid growing concerns about data privacy and surveillance, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy (PCSP) and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) have created an important resource for parents to understand and safeguard students’ personal information.
The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy: A Practical Guide for Protecting Your Child’s Sensitive School Data from Snoops, Hackers, and Marketers is a vital resource in an age where nearly all school records are stored digitally, and where learning, homework, and administrative tasks are increasingly conducted online. Available free to parents on CCFC and PCSP’s websites, the Toolkit offers clear guidance about federal laws that do—and don’t—protect students’ privacy, helps parents ask the right questions about their schools’ data policies, and offers simple steps parents can take to advocate for better privacy policies and practices in their children’s schools.
Rachael Stickland, Co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, explained that many parents are under the false impression that sensitive student records are stored securely in a paper file under lock and key in the principal’s office.
‘As a parent of two school-aged children, I know first-hand how difficult it is to comprehend the sheer amount of digital data students generate during the course of a normal school day and what that means for our children’s future. With districts outsourcing operations like bus, cafeteria, and instructional services to vendors who store student personal data in the ‘cloud’ and share it with third parties, including state and federal agencies, it’s more important than ever for parents to take some control over their children’s information. It’s not too late to take action when it comes to protecting our children’s privacy.’
A new report issued by the Electronic Frontier Foundation found that students’ activities and information are being monitored by tech companies through devices and software used in classrooms. The data collected by schools and technology vendors often include kids’ names, birth dates, browsing histories, grades, test scores, disabilities, disciplinary records, and more, without adequate privacy and security protections or the consent of parents. Yet few guides exist to help parents navigate the confusing patchwork of laws and regulations that govern student privacy, or help them promote stronger protections.
Other currently available resources are overly technical, filled with jargon, or skewed to the interests of educational technology companies rather than parents and students. CCFC and PCSCP’s new Toolkit, designed with input from experts in education, data privacy, and federal law, is designed to put the needs of families first.”
The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy can be downloaded at www.studentprivacymatters.org/toolkit.
You may also download individual sections of the toolkit below:
- Introduction: Why should parents be concerned?
- Table of Contents
- Section I: What is student data?
- Section II: Parents’ rights under federal law to protect their children’s privacy
- Section III: Tips for parents looking to protect their children’s privacy
- Section IV: Student privacy best practices for states, districts, schools, and teachers
- Section V: Talking to teachers, schools, and districts about student privacy
- Section VI: Advocating for student privacy in schools, districts, and beyond
- Section VII: Student privacy FAQs
- Appendix A: Request to inspect education records held by the school, district or state
- Appendix B: Sample letter to opt out of disclosure of directory information
- Appendix C: Sample letter to opt out of military recruitment
- Appendix D: Additional questions to ask your teacher or principal
- Appendix E: Sample petition
- Appendix F: Tips for media outreach and sample press materials
- Additional resources
PCSP and CCFC will co-sponsor a webinar on May 23, 2017, to help parents effectively use the toolkit’s resources. For more information and the full announcements about the privacy guide, please see here and here.
The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy was made possible by a grant from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment.
Image above by Julia Yellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Defending Your Rights In A Digital World
Spying on Students: School Issued Devices and Student Privacy
Campaign For a Commercial Free Childhood
Parent Coalition for Student Privacy