Student Data Privacy Legislation

shutterstock_163124264Many states have passed laws or introduced bills regarding this important issue for parents and kids.  Most of the laws and bills focus on third party vendor restrictions on using student data for commercial purposes, such as advertising to kids, selling data or creating non-education related profiles.  Typically, the burden of administering the privacy protections falls upon an education entity, such as a Department of Education or school district.  Challenges for education entities include limited resources or expertise for establishment of standards, administration and enforcement.

Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum submitted Senate Bill 187 and amendments modeled after a California law, which provides privacy protections for students, enforceable under Oregon’s unlawful business and trade practices laws.  The amendments place the compliance burden on “operators” of Internet websites, online services and/or online or mobile applications used for K-12 educational purposes.

Oregon PTA was one of the groups the Department of Justice reached out to regarding the proposal, and testified in support of the bill before the Senate Education Committee, and after the bill passed the Senate, the House Education Committee. Senate Bill 187A is scheduled for another hearing and possible work session on June 3.

Oregon PTA also participated as a member of a state level Student Data Privacy work group, and provided input regarding several bills sponsored by Rep. Lew Frederick.  We testified in support of the bills before the House Education Committee.

Learn more about Oregon’s bills on the Senate Bill 187A and House Committee on Education. You could also search your state legislature’s website to find legislative proposals related to student data privacy, or state and local educational entities’ website for opportunities to weigh in on this important issue.


Betty Reynolds, Ph.D. is the vice president for legislation at Oregon PTA.

New Resource for Parents on Student Data Privacy

privacy-header-cropTechnology and the Internet have created countless new opportunities for learning. Students can now read about virtually any subject from anywhere and can connect with people and places around the world. Teachers are harnessing the power of the technology to bring curriculum alive and modify instruction to meet the unique needs of every child.

With the advent of increasingly innovative ways to learn, National PTA believes that making learning via technology and the Internet safe for students should be a top priority. Toward the end of 2014, National PTA became involved in identifying best practices for safeguarding and managing student data and ensuring parents have appropriate notification and consent as to what and how children’s data is collected and used.

As part of its efforts, National PTA has collaborated with the Future of Privacy Forum and ConnectSafely to develop a free, digital guide to help parents understand the laws that protect student data as well as students’ and parents’ rights under the laws.

Among the information provided, the guide answers the following questions:

  • Who has access to personal information about my child?
  • What is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and when does it apply to information from students?
  • When do I have the choice to “opt-out” of my child’s information being shared?
  • How do I gain access, make corrections or request deletions to my child’s data?

Schools have always held a wide range of data about children and families. Name, address, names of parents or guardians, date of birth, grades, attendance, disciplinary records, eligibility for lunch programs, special needs and the like are all necessary for basic administration and instruction. Teachers and school officials use this information for lots of reasons, including to assess how well students at a school are progressing, how effective teachers are at teaching, and how well a school performs compared to other schools. State departments of education also collect and aggregate data to help guide policy decisions and plan budgets.

Guaranteeing the effective use of students’ information while keeping this information protected remains paramount.

To download the guide and learn more about privacy rights for students and parents, visit ferpasherpa.org.


Heidi May Wilson is the media relations manager at National PTA.

Senate Education Committee Passes Every Child Achieves Act

Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously passed the Every Child Achieves Act, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind (ESEA/NCLB). This is another step toward reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB. National PTA is pleased to see movement on this important piece of legislation. Comprehensive reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB is National PTA’s top legislative priority this Congress.

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) praised his colleagues and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) for their hard work and bipartisanship during the three day markup of the bill. The bill will now go to the floor of the U.S. Senate where all Senators will be able to debate and have the opportunity to amendment the bill. We are hearing that the bill could be brought to the floor in mid-May or June.

National PTA and Colorado PTA worked with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to introduce an amendment that would create a program to authorize Statewide Family Engagement Centers as a replacement to Parent Information and Resource Centers, which were eliminated in the bill. Senator Bennet offered his amendment but then withdrew it. This was done for strategic reasons, and the Senator plans to offer it again on the Senate floor. National PTA seeks to strengthen the family engagement provisions in the bill and will be asking PTA advocates to reach out to their Senators to ensure that the Every Child Achieves Act has specific improvements that prioritize capacity building for the implementation of systemic and sustainable family engagement practices that increase student achievement.

During the markup, several amendments passed that National PTA supported, including the elementary and secondary school counseling program; the Javits gifted and talented program; the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which would provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours; and an amendment that would provide resources to initiate, expand and improve physical education programs in schools. These amendments provide needed resources and supports to students and schools and are aligned with PTA’s 2015 Public Policy Agenda.

Another PTA-supported amendment that passed would enable states and school districts to conduct audits of their testing systems to reduce low-quality, misaligned and redundant tests.

National PTA is also pleased to see the passage of an education technology amendment that would foster innovative technology initiatives in classrooms and schools and provide professional development for educators as well as a grant program that would improve coordination, quality and access to early learning opportunities for children and families.

We are thankful that no public or private school portability or voucher amendments passed in Committee; however, both Senators Alexander and Scott (R-SC) vowed to introduce portability amendments on the Senate floor.

We will need PTA advocates to gear up for the action on the Senate floor to strengthen family engagement provisions and ensure that every child has the resources and support he/she needs to reach his/her full potential.

Stay tuned for more updates on the reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB through the One Voice Blog and by following @NationalPTA on Twitter.


Jacki Ball is the director of government affairs at National PTA. Follow her on Twitter at @balljacki.

Now Accepting 2015 Advocacy Awards Nominations

advocacyawardsNominations for the 2015 Advocacy Awards are now being accepted! If you know of an outstanding youth or individual PTA advocate, or know of a local unit or state level PTA that has done great advocacy work, please nominate them to receive an award for their efforts from National PTA. Winners will be announced in January, and will receive their awards at the 2015 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

Like in previous years, advocates may apply themselves in the youth and individual categories, and the winners in these categories will get the opportunity to act as advocacy ambassadors for PTA.

Nominations must be for efforts made in the last year and are due by 12 a.m. EDT on Dec. 19. Please visit the following links below to view and fill out nomination forms. You can also find these forms and more information about the 2015 Advocacy Awards at PTA.org/AdvocacyAwards.

Categories:

Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Ambassador Award
The 2015 Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Ambassador Award will be presented to an individual PTA member, who through their leadership and advocacy efforts, affected federal policy priorities within PTA’s annual Public Policy Agenda. Shirley was a model of public service and volunteerism throughout her life. She was an impassioned and compassionate leader, dedicated to moving PTA forward and committed to ensuring that others would follow.

Outstanding Youth Advocacy Ambassador Award
The 2015 Outstanding Youth Advocacy Ambassador Award will be presented to a young person—who—through his or her creativity, leadership, and dedication, has positively affected policy or change in his or her school or community in a way that aligns with PTA’s mission and goals.

Local/District/Regional PTA Outstanding Advocacy Award
The 2015 Local Outstanding Advocacy Award will be presented to a local, district, council or regional PTA that, through their dedication, leadership and efforts positively affected legislative and/or regulatory policy compatible with PTA’s mission and goals. These efforts must include an education/learning component for PTA members and the community-at-large. Working with multiple organizations or coalitions through grassroots collaboration is preferred.

State PTA Outstanding Advocacy Award
The 2015 State Outstanding Advocacy Award will be presented to a state PTA that, through their dedication, leadership and efforts positively affected legislative and/or regulatory policy compatible with PTA’s mission and goals. These efforts must be based on a statewide issue, involve working with multiple organizations or coalitions through grassroots collaboration, and contain a public awareness/advocacy training component for PTA members and the community at large.


Matthew L. Evans is an advocacy coordinator for National PTA.

Take Action! Every Child Deserves a #StrongStart!

IMG_4443%20211.jpgJoin @NationalPTA as we partner with leading education organizations to encourage the Obama Administration to fully support and fund early childhood education programs. As part of this campaign, we encourage our members to send us photographs of themselves holding the #StrongStart sign. Feel free to be creative with your photograph. Members can send photos to govaffairs@pta.org or upload to National PTA’s Flickr share album.

In the week leading up to the State of the Union address Jan. 28, we will tweet your photos to President Obama using the hashtag #StrongStart as part of a Twitter action campaign coordinated with advocates across the country. The initiative will call for President Obama to include early learning in his speech. The more photos we are able to tweet, the more likely it will draw the administration’s attention to fully support and fund early childhood education programs. Questions? Contact Governmental Affairs or Communications.

Celebrating Advocacy, the Cornerstone of PTA

Left: The first board of managers at the first national convention in Washington, DC.
Right: Outstanding advocates named at the 2012 Legislative Conference in Washington DC. Image courtesy of Lifetouch.

When was the last time you really thought about the existence of child labor laws, juvenile courts, or the availability of hot lunches in school?

Chances are these issues aren’t at the forefront of your mind. Over the past century, these subjects have become an indelible part of our society, so much so that we rarely think about what life would be like if they weren’t around.  All of these landmark policies for children share a common origin; like most efforts related to kids, they started with a parent or group of parents who had the courage and motivation to demand better for their children.

It’s advocacy and it’s what PTA is all about.

Advocacy has been the cornerstone of PTA’s mission since our founding in 1897, during a time when, for many families, an education for children was simply out of reach. Today, advocacy remains at every level of PTA, culminating each year at the PTA Legislative Conference where National PTA recognizes outstanding advocates from across the country.

When you think about being a champion for change, keep in mind that no effort is too small or too big to be considered advocacy. Advocacy is often a gradual process; when PTA members began their push for child labor laws, the change didn’t happen overnight.  With advocacy, being successful on a year-to-year basis does not always mean that your ultimate goal is met. Advocacy takes patience, a consistent effort, and building blocks toward your goal.

As you think about the past year and what you are most proud of as a member of your PTA, consider filling out a nomination form for the 2013 Advocacy Awards for an outstanding advocate in your PTA. State and local award winners will receive a complimentary trip to the National PTA Legislative Conference and a cash prize to help further advocacy efforts. Individual winners (Shirley Igo and Youth Advocate) will receive complimentary travel and registration to the conference.

If you’re interested in more information, please visit the 2013 Advocacy Awards page on the PTA website.

Nominations are due December 5, 2012.  PTA Advocacy Awards are recognized in the following categories: Individual (Shirley Igo); Local/District/Regional; State; and Youth.


Mollie Van Lieu is an Advocacy Specialist at National PTA in Alexandria, Virginia. Contact Mollie at mvanlieu@pta.org.