Thanks to all of you who came out to the student-data privacy hearing on Tuesday, August 7, in the IL House Cybersecurity Committee! There were quite a few parents in attendance and several who testified. Raise Your Hand Action pushed for this hearing because we have been trying to get a simple data privacy bill passed and have come up against serious opposition from the ed tech lobby and school management groups.
We believe parents have a right to know what data is being collected on our children, how it’s being used, and the ability to correct it if it’s wrong, and we don’t think tech companies should be able to profit by selling our kids’ data to entities for marketing purposes. We also think stronger protections are needed to secure our students’ data. These are just some of the data privacy issues that we’re trying to bring to light.
You can view videos of from the hearing here on the RYH Action YouTube channel. RYHA Co Executive Director, Cassie Creswell, testified about data breaches and treatment of parents who question if their child’s data is secure or not. She also pressed the Committee to pass a bill with specific policy areas within it. The parent panel shared ways their own child’s data and privacy had been violated within CPS. You can read some of their testimony below. Shawn Davis, IIT professor and Director of Digital Forensics at Edelson PC, broke down the ways student data is at risk. His testimony was very eye opening and we encourage you to watch the video. We also have video of the entire hearing which lasted a little over 3 hours.
You can read our background piece on why we need better student data protection here.
You can read Cassie's testimony here on the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy blog.
Testimony of Jeff Young, CPS Parent
My name is Jeff Young and, last year, while serving as a parent representative on the LSC of Darwin I was audience to a set of presentations from Darwin's Instructional Leadership teams. These presentations were given by teachers at the school and went over their strategies for the year's instruction and the tools they planned to use to achieve the children's educational goals. During a presentation by one of these teams, it was mentioned that student's NWEA scores were input into Khan academy in order for Khan to create individualized educational "missions" for each student. Later, I commented that, as a parent, I didn't remember giving the school permission to release my daughter's NWEA scores to Khan, and asked what the nature of the contract was between Khan and CPS - how was my daughter's privacy being protected. It's posing difficult questions, like this one, that probably contributed to me being voted off the LSC. None of the teachers could provide an answer and our school's principal suggested I issue a FOIA request for the contact. Because of my association with Raise Your Hand, I was aware of how to make a FOIA request and so did, asking for the contract between CPS and Khan Academy. The response was less than re-assuring. CPS said that they had nothing for me because there was no contract. How is it that CPS allows the release of student NWEA data to a third party it does not have a contract, which would govern the use of that data, with? There must be laws against this. As a parent, I ask the lawmakers here for legislation that enforces transparency on what data is being collected and shared, allows my family to opt out of the use of these services without penalty to my daughter's education and prevents the sale of this data, for profit, by anyone, to anyone.
Press coverage of the hearing:
NPR Illinois: Lawmakers Looking At How Public Schools Handle Private Data
Illinois News Network: Lawmakers, parents raise questions about student privacy at Illinois schools
The Daily Line: Morning briefing — Lawmakers mull tougher school data security standards after CPS data breach; New law seeks more information to apply for Lyft, Uber