Student profiling bill draws concerns - FOX 13 News

Student profiling bill draws concerns

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

There is data for just about everything in education, student test scores and teacher evaluations.

But a new bill going through the Florida Senate and House is drawing major concern from some parent groups.

"This is basically taking your children's identity, digitizing it and then selling it to vendors. With parents having no knowledge and no way to approve or disapprove of what they're releasing," said Melissa Erickson with Fund Education Now.

She's describing SB-878. It was introduced by Bradenton Senator Bill Galvano.

Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association said it's a profile that will follow you throughout your education.

"It's basically creating a profile on you from the time you're 5 until the time you go through the university system," she said.

But Senator Galvano said parents have it all wrong.

He said the state has actually already been using this type of database since 2001.

He said the Department of Education currently oversees it, but with no protocols in place.

Galvano said his bill would create restrictions on what information is stored and how.

He said anything that can identify a student would be masked. And he said companies can't turn around and use any of the information

"The data can't be used for any commercial use. They can't put anything on the market. We'd have an agreement with these companies, and there would be penalties for misuse," said Galvano.

Melissa Erickson said the bill relies too much on federal laws.

"If you clearly read the federal statute, it won't protect our kids. There's so much flexibility in there. It's basically, it's a free for all, as to who they can release the data to," she said.

She said test scores, attendance records, discipline issues and sports activities would all be fair game.

According to the federal laws, Erickson said it leaves it up to the person responsible for tracking the information FOR what kind of information is released and how. In this case, it would be the DOE.

"That really kind of means there's no limit. If the person who is releasing the information feels the personal information is pertinent to the information being released, they have the discretion and the sole discretion will lay with the Commissioner of Education," Erickson said.

Many say the biggest concern is parents can't opt out.

"They're trying to connect the dots, from year to year, with you as the student in particular, but not just your test data, potentially tons of other data as well, " said Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins.

That includes information on employment, when students graduate college.

"They're basically saying by putting your child in public school, you give up their right to privacy. and I think fundamentally that's wrong, " said Erickson.

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