As American citizens we value our rights. We all have rights that are ours at birth.
Our constitution guarantees that the citizens of the United States shall be free from government intrusion.
When our constitution was written, however, our founding fathers did not envision the government “services” that are being provided in today’s world. These services provide the government with an awful lot of personal information on each citizen. Such personal information should only be used to provide the service that the citizen is accessing at the time that the citizen is accessing it. This includes education.
The People, LLC were asked to help draft the Student Data Privacy bill in 2014. That bill was subsequently passed into law as Act 837. The law was necessary due to the fact that the Department of Education was usurping parental rights and treating our children’s information as if it belonged to the government.
It does not.
What we uncovered as the bill was moved through the process is not only appalling, but, we believe, un-American. The state was (and probably still is) using our children’s information for many questionable reasons: to farm out to state and private agencies for other services; to track our children for workforce development; to track our children’s physical attributes; to track our children’s emotional attributes; to allow commercial entities to sell products to our children and their families.
The intent of the Student Data Privacy law was to limit access and use of our children’s information to the district level. Student personal information is not necessary beyond that level. The state has no need for private, personally identifiable information on each and every child. The state fought back and claimed it needed access for “auditing” reasons. Lobbyists also fought back. The lobbyist for the ACT test is an example. Apparently, ACT is using our children’s information for reasons beyond grading their tests.
What does the law actually do? It limits the access and use of our children’s information to those that need to access and use their information at the district level. The state has access for the purpose of auditing; and, ACT has access for the purpose of grading tests only. The district superintendent is the gatekeeper, so to speak. He can allow access for those in the district that need access in order to do their jobs---like teachers. The elected school boards can also make rules that would allow access for employees to do their jobs and for private companies under contract for services to have only the access needed to provide those services. Of course, by simply obtaining parental permission prior to the release or use of children’s information, district employees are able to avoid any and all problems.
We have heard the argument that obtaining parental permission is just too cumbersome. We disagree. Parents are the sole authority regarding all decisions related to the health and welfare of their children. It is not the responsibility of the state to use citizens' information without their knowledge in order to find other “state services” for which the citizen may qualify...nor is it the job of the state to provide a workforce for private industry.
In a country where Socialism is the form of government it would be the job of government to monitor the citizens for social services. In a Communist country, we would expect the government to provide industry with a workforce. America is neither. Our form of government is a Constitutional Republic and, as such, citizens are responsible for their own happiness and welfare.
We are responsible because it is our birthright. We get to define our happiness and welfare, and government must allow us the opportunity to pursue both.