Dear Commons Community,
Earlier this week there was an article in the New York Post on the subject of the federal government establishing databases on school children. On the surface this does not seem problematic except that the nature of the databases and the fact that they will be shared among agencies infringes on the privacy of individuals and in this case defenseless children. A case can be made that data on student outcomes, health issues and behavior should not be collected in massive data files that can be accessed and transferred throughout the federal bureaucracies. The article raises important questions:
“Would it bother you to know that the federal Centers for Disease Control had been shown your daughter’s health records to see how she responded to an STD/teen-pregnancy-prevention program? How about if the federal Department of Education and Department of Labor scrutinized your son’s academic performance to see if he should be “encouraged” to leave high school early to learn a trade? Would you think the government was intruding on your territory as a parent?
Under regulations the Obama Department of Education released this month, these scenarios could become reality. The department has taken a giant step toward creating a de facto national student database that will track students by their personal information from preschool through career.”
This situation has evolved as a result of federal stimulus and Race to the Top funds. The article states:
“Buried within the enormous 2009 stimulus bill were provisions encouraging states to develop data systems for collecting copious information on public-school kids. To qualify for stimulus money, states had to agree to build such systems according to federally dictated standards. So all 50 states either now maintain or are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students.”
This is highly questionable and possibly illegal without Congressional approval. This deserves further investigation.