Last Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing, “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy,” the Subcommittee’s first hearing in the 114th Congress. Members generally agreed on the importance of leveraging technology in the classroom while maintaining student data privacy. Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) argued that it is imperative to hold “bad actors” accountable, but affirmed the innovative uses of technology in the classroom that are evident by the success of individualized, blended and distance learning. Chairman Rokita asked the witnesses to conclude the hearing with succinct takeaways for Members to consider.
Shannon Sevier, vice president for advocacy at the National Parent Teacher Association, advocated for parents to be consulted [more often] on the use of their children’s data and for clearer permissible uses of student data in schools. Allyson Knox, director of education policy and programs at Microsoft, claimed that it is possible to “strike a balance” in protecting students data while encouraging innovative learning. Dr. Sheryl Abshire, chief technology officer at Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Lake Charles, LA, urged the Subcommittee to carefully consider the effects of changing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and to seek professional input throughout the process. Joel Reidenberg, founding academic director at Fordham Law Schools’ Center on Law and Information Policy, said that a modernization of FERPA should protect all student information, not only educational records, and that privacy protections should be required by all participants, not only schools. For more information, go to: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398317.
Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC