Gone are the days when parents could tuck all their children’s homework in a drawer or rest assured that their child’s complete records were under lock and key, on paper, in the school’s main office. For the past few years, most American public schools have been moving student records online and many teachers have been assigning homework online. Children are logging on to school assignments in class, at home and on the go, generating a deluge of data.
With all this accumulation of data comes a distinct feeling of consternation on the part of some parents. The thought of losing control of a child’s personal information can be unnerving. Arielle Piastunovich, a social worker in San Francisco is concerned her kids’ data could be captured by a marketer or a predator, although the chances of the latter have proven to be almost negligible. “It’s a scary thought,” she says. “As a parent you want to protect your kids and make them safe in the world, and the world gets less and less safe.”
But some parents who work in the tech industry have more comfort with the idea of online data. “There is no problem aside from us adults having a very old-fashioned perspective on our privacy,” says Tomo Moriwaki, a father and video game developer in Los Angeles. “The most sinister thing they can try and do is profit from the information. Even spying on our kids because they might be terrorists is no big deal to me, aside from how much a waste of time and effort it represents.”
It’s futile to try and keep track of student data according to Simon Jones, a father of three and a marketer in Burlingame, Calif. “Privacy efforts are sort of like TSA agents. They make you feel better but you can’t protect your privacy in today’s world.” Jones finds comfort in believing that everyone is being tracked somehow and, “if it’s everybody, it’s nobody, you disappear into an ocean of names and numbers.” He says he doesn’t worry about privacy, because he believes there’s nothing he can do about it.
Laws Protecting Student Data
Not everyone is resigned to handing over student data to the wilds and will of the internet. “Privacy rules may well be the seatbelts of this generation,” said Arne Duncan in a recent speech on privacy. The Data Quality Campaign found that 80 student-data-privacy bills have been considered in 32 states in 2014 alone. In addition to the state laws under consideration, there are at least three federal laws already on the books designed to protect student data, FERPA, PPRA and COPPA.