This is an update on SB 503 which will come to the floor of the House for a FULL VOTE on May 12, 2010.
The session begins at 10:00 AM.
Call them at home or email them and tell them not to jeopardize your children’s privacy to chase federal money. Tell them that the UPI database is an inappropriate use of our social security numbers. SB 503 goes beyond the scope of compulsory attendance and should not track young children and returning adult students. This is an excuse to track people from cradle to grave. Stop the creep of government into our private lives and do not put our most sensitive personal information at risk.
SB 503, sponsored by Senators Molly Kelly and Bob Odell, proposes to expand the Unique Pupil Identifier (UPI) database to include students in preschool and college. The state already collects information on public-school students in grades 1 through 12. It tracks each student’s progress, state assessment results, attendance records, special education plans, and demographics. This data is used by the Department of Education to compile public school performance information. SB 503 was proposed to qualify for available federal grant money.
The Senate adopted SB 503 with amendment. It will progress to the House Education Committee in executive session on Tuesday, May 4th at 10am in the Legislative Office Building (LOB), room 207.
An additional amendment proposed by Representatives Ingbretson, Stiles, and Kurk would prohibit NH colleges and universities from creating new UPIs for enrolled homeschool, private school, and out-of-state students.
It is the position of NH Families for Education that SB 503 exceeds the scope of compulsory education and further compromises the privacy of students. We recommend that SB 503 be voted Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) to kill this bill. Compulsory school attendance is limited to grades 1 through 12. Likewise, if the Department of Education must track the performance of public schools, then it should be limited to compulsory academic years. Early childhood and post-secondary education are not included in compulsory education and therefore should not be included in the UPI database. Furthermore, students’ privacy is already compromised with the UPI database and their privacy should not be further compromised to chase federal grant dollars.
The proposed amendment by Ingbretson, Stiles, and Kurk is a compromise position to exempt homeschool and private school students. It is preferred to the version adopted by the Senate, but seeks special minority privileges. No student should be subject to an invasion of their privacy just for additional funding.
Please recommend to the House Education Committee to ITL SB 503. The contact information for House Education Committee members is listed below.
The following members do not have email:
Rep. Rachel Burke (603)755-3353
Rep. John Laurent (603)399-7745
Related Info from Fordham University
States mismanage student information, study concludes
Professor Joel Reidenberg in The Washington Post, October 28, 2009
States mismanage student information, study concludes
Collection systems for education appear vast and vulnerable
By Nick Anderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
States often collect far more information about students than necessary and fail to take adequate steps to protect their privacy, a national study concludes. The dossiers go far beyond test scores, including Social Security numbers, poverty data, health information and disciplinary incidents.
The study from the Fordham University Center on Law and Information Policy, released Wednesday, casts light on data systems created at the urging of the federal government to track student progress. One finding: States often fail to spell out protocols for purging records after students graduate.
“Ten, 15 years later, these kids are adults, and information from their elementary, middle and high school years will easily be exposed by hackers and others who put it to misuse,” said Fordham law professor Joel R. Reidenberg, who oversaw the study. States, he said, “are trampling the privacy interests of those students.”
The movement toward statewide databases with unique student identifiers, rooted in the standards-and-testing movement of the 1990s, has grown significantly in this decade under the federal No Child Left Behind law and is getting a fresh push this year from the Obama administration. Federal officials want to link student test scores to teacher files to help evaluate instruction. They also envision systems that track students from pre-kindergarten through college, to help raise college completion rates.
Nearly all states, including Virginia and Maryland, have built or are planning virtual education “data warehouses,” aided by federal funding. A similar effort is underway in the District, although contractor troubles have caused delays. Advocates say the warehouses have strong privacy protections, but they acknowledge potential shortcomings.
“Is there data collected that’s not necessary anymore?” asked Aimee Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign, based in the District, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. “Probably.” She cited Kansas and Tennessee as leaders in establishing rules for data control.
But a larger concern, Guidera said, is that states often lack “a strategic, thoughtful way of connecting information and using it to answer questions.”
The Fordham study canvassed public information on state data systems and compliance with federal privacy law. It omitted the District, and researchers said they were unable to obtain information from Maryland.
Among the findings: At least 23 states note reasons for withdrawal from school such as jail, illness or mental health issues. At least 22 count student absences. At least 29 track whether students are homeless. Those three tallies include Virginia.
The study also found that at least 16 states use or allow the use of Social Security numbers to identify students and at least 10 note whether a student is a single parent. Virginia was not among the 16 or the 10. Another finding: Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey and North Carolina track the date of a student’s last medical exam.
The study recommended that states tighten protocols to keep data anonymous, with special provisions for those in local schools who need to know more; that they articulate reasons for collecting data and jettison what is unjustified; and that they appoint officers to oversee compliance with state and federal privacy laws.
Charles Pyle, a Virginia Department of Education spokesman, said data are protected through policies and programming that prevent unauthorized access. The data help the state comply with No Child Left Behind, he said, and help pinpoint student needs.
“You need a statewide system to keep track of the kids,” said Grover “Russ” Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, who oversaw education research for President George W. Bush’s administration. “Otherwise, they fall off the screen.”