What do you consider private and should students in the public schools and their families be able to maintain their privacy? While having had children in the Boulder Valley School District receive what I consider invasive questioning through school assignments, I came up with some answers.
I see school districts need to acknowledge and accept responsibility for respecting and protecting student and family privacy. Students and their families deserve and need this respect and protection. Children are vulnerable. They and their families want the focus in school to be on academic pursuits, not on their navigating through consequences of telling about their personal lives, particularly in required assignments.
A strongly supportive policy would say: No student as part of any curricula or program should be required, expected, or encouraged to submit without the prior parental written consent to any activity, assignment, survey, testing method, analysis, or evaluation in which the student is to reveal the student’s or the student’s family’s attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs, or feelings concerning one or more of the following:
(1) Religious or political affiliations;
(2) Physical, mental or emotional attributes, behavior or problems;
(4) Self-esteem, self-awareness, or self-concept;
(5) Home and family;
(6) All interpersonal relationships; or
(7) Use of money, financial status, or income.
For those who think negatively about this standard, think about how much students and parents know about teachers, principals, school administrators and the superintendent. Think about how much we know about school board members or the U.S. Education Secretary. We know little to nothing about them.
Then, think about President Obama’s efforts to get much of our personal information in databases as part of health care and K-12 educational reforms. Think about any reason the government would need this information and what it would do with it.
To maintain our ability to live our lives freely, we must protect not only our own privacy but also the privacy of students and their families. If we don’t protect privacy with this standard, then what? And, if not now, when?