Printed on: September 25, 2013

Time to take a stand

Parents in Idaho have lost the fundamental right to protect the privacy of their child's personal student data. Idaho has established a federally mandated Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS). It is called the Idaho System for Educational Excellence, or ISEE.

ISEE stores personal, student-specific information and will then link it to workforce data using Social Security numbers, resulting in a cradle-to-grave tracking system.

Student information was previously sent to Boise as aggregate data, not identifiable to a particular student. The information collected now includes demographic information, free/reduced lunch status, test scores and disciplinary records, with the door wide open for whatever the State Board of Education chooses to collect in the future.

Many parents still don't know about ISEE. How can a school send data to a state-run database without our knowledge or permission? How can this database then release our children's private data to researchers without our permission? Parental consent is no longer needed. The federal government, through amendments to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), has written parents out of the picture.

Andrew Snook, an Idaho deputy attorney general, said, "So long as the student information included in the SLDS is collected for purposes of auditing or evaluating state or federal programs, parents have no authority under FERPA, or any other federal or state law, to prevent school districts from entering such information in the SLDS."

The state of Idaho has endorsed the federal government's abuse of power by establishing an SLDS. The collection of sensitive data without parental consent is in direct violation of our most basic freedoms. We have the right to liberty, which includes the right to protect our privacy and our children's privacy. Government didn't issue this right and they shouldn't be able to take it away.

Although some districts have voiced concerns about being required to submit this personal data to the state, their hands appear to be tied. District funding is now linked to the submission of this data and parents cannot opt out.

If you're concerned about the loss of parental rights, contact your district superintendent and your state representatives. To find their contact information, visit www.idahoansagainstcommoncore .com. Click on "What Can I Do" and scroll to the bottom of the page. We cannot afford to sit idly by and watch our right to privacy disappear. It is time that we stand together and voice our concerns to effect change.

Gifford lives in Idaho Falls with her husband and daughter. She works as a teacher's aide at a local elementary school.