This Teacher Chose to Be Arrested

Great letter from a teacher about what it really means to put student’s first. Hint: it doesn’t involve forming pseudo-grassroots organizations secretly funded by fascist billionaires or corporate leeches. . .

Diane Ravitch's blog

Do you want to know what it really means to put students first?

It doesn’t mean making millions of dollars to promote privatization. It doesn’t mean speaking to corporate titans. It doesn’t mean fighting to strip teachers of all rights and privileges.

This is what it means. It means joining the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina. It means fighting for your students when legislators cut the budget and programs and seek to privatize the schools.

To the teacher who wrote this post, it means: I am ready to be arrested and go to jail for my students. That’s putting students first.

She writes:

Today, June 17, 2013, North Carolinians gathered for the seventh “Moral Monday” protest at the North Carolina Legislative Building. Since late May, thousands have protested the General Assembly’s ultra-conservative agenda and over 450 people have been arrested as part of a growing wave of non-violent…

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How my original “Opt Out Letter” was converted to a “form”

At the June 18th BESE meeting John White relayed that he did not recall seeing my opt-out letter and did not reply because it was something he characterized as a “form letter.”  Technically this was true.  Mine was the first letter to get sent, so it was not a form letter, however Tom Aswell at the Louisiana Voice republished it after redacting my personal info so other parents could likewise opt their children out of any data sharing using my letter as a template.  (I subsequently learned there was much swearing of my name by John White, as a result of my letter and privacy petition and campaign, but we must pick and choose our battles, right?)

A form letter type approach was adopted because Louisiana has not provided an organized method of transmitting or submitting opt-out requests and some very specific information needs to be submitted for Louisiana to identify children that are opted out, while not revealing too much information (like DOB and SSN) which could be used by identity thieves that might intercept the e-mail making the opt-out procedure as dangerous as the data sharing.

My son will be starting pre-k this year in EBR so I will be updating my opt-out request in a few weeks with his info.

Feel free to use this letter as a template for your own, or simply write your own and simply make sure to send the bolded data elements.  Since John White did not recall seeing my letter, even thought I sent it to him and most of his senior staff and legal counsel, I would recommend making sure you send it to more folks than just John White.  I asked him to provide a method by which parents could opt-out their children without this hassle, but White did not address any future plans to make this process easy in the meeting.

Feel free to send your opt outs to any or all of:

John.White@la.gov (state Superintendent of Education)

Erin.Bendily@la.gov (Governor Jindal’s handpicked DOE handmaiden )

Joan.Hunt@la.gov (DOE chief legal counsel)

Kim.Nesmith@la.gov (Data Quality and collections director)

My name is (PARENT’S NAME) and I am a parent of children in Louisiana public schools. This is to formally inform you that you do not have my permission to share my children’s personally identifiable student information with any external agency, researcher, non-profit group, vendor or government or quasi-government agency under any circumstances (specifically, name, DOB, SSN). They are public students in the (parish/city/parochial) school system and you have not asked my permission to share their information as required by law. I am purposefully informing you that you do not have permission to share their information unless I provide appropriate parental guidance. Their/his/her name(s) is/are (STUDENT’S OR STUDENTS’ NAME[S]). If you already have, I would like you to promptly request that his/her/their information be expunged from any data set you have already shared.

Mr. White, on the basis of your e-mails it appears you are planning on sharing this data and I will hold you personally responsible for any subsequent violations. I will be recommending that other parents likewise notify you if they do not wish their information to be shared with corporations/vendors whom you have agreed to not hold liable for any security breaches or unauthorized releases (which I don’t believe you have a legal right or authority to do). Moreover, any such release of personally identifiable information without each parent’s express permission will be a direct violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and a willfully unnecessary one since you have non-personally identifiable student identifiers and have taken great pains to claim FERPA exclusions for all other releases of de-identified student data to the media, researchers, and the general public.

Please note the section in the last paragraph below. Schools may disclose, without consent, directory information. But you must notify us when doing so. You, however, do not have my consent and you are not a school. You have my absolute, unequivocal, official refusal on record.

You also do not have a legal right to require social security numbers from any student in Louisiana. I will be recommending parents and school districts to promptly stop providing them as you seem unwilling to guard this information as required by law.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

(PARENT’S NAME)

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.”

• Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.

• Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

• Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

o School officials with legitimate educational interest;

o Other schools to which a student is transferring;

o Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;

o Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;

o Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;

o Accrediting organizations;

o To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;

o Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and

o State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.

Excellent Letter sent to BESE by one of my readers about data sharing and inBloom

Dear BESE member, I am writing to voice my concern over the massive student data sharing scheme with InBloom and whomever else is on track to receive information on our students, and even teachers and parents.

Please understand our concerns for this unprecedented and massive information sharing by companies and individuals who may or may not have the best interests of our children in mind. When For Profit companies are given access to private and confidential information, it begins a slippery slope of loosening our rights to privacy. As has already been proven, once this information is out, as so called data, what these companies do with it is now out of our control. We have no idea what they will eventually do with it and who will later have access to it. It is your responsibility to take back control of our children’s education and private information. It seems as if our state is being sold a bill of goods at the expense of our children. For Profit companies are taking over the education of our children. These unregulated, unaccredited ,and uncredentialed “schools” and “teachers” are allowed to “teach” our children, while public schools are left with minimal funding and more regulations. Yet it is amazing that there is always money for more tests for the testing companies, and now more money for Data companies to do what they will with confidential student information.

Please hear our cries for adequate funding for public schools so that our children can receive the education they deserve with certified and credentialed teachers in accredited public schools. Many of these charter and RSD schools are allowed to segregate students, with no oversight, and dismal test scores. This is a horrible, unresearched experiment being inflicted on our most vulnerable children in the name of reform. It is time to take back our neighborhood schools from the profit barons and put the decision making back into the hands of the tax paying citizens who support our public schools.

Please stop this massive data sharing scheme and put the funding back into our public schools.

Please stop this unfair attack on our public schools and public school teachers.

Please respect the professionalism of teachers.

I am an educator, a parent, and a concerned citizen.