Press Release: The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy Supports the PROSPER Act’s Commitment to a Federal Student Unit-Record Ban

For Immediate Release

December 12, 2017

Contact: Rachael Stickland, [email protected], 303.204.1272

 The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy Supports the PROSPER Act’s Commitment to a Federal Student Unit-Record Ban

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy thanks Representative Virginia Foxx, Chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and her colleagues for their continued support of student privacy by maintaining the current ban on the creation of a comprehensive federal database of personal student information, known as a federal student unit-record system, in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, called the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform Act or the PROSPER Act.

The PROSPER Act authorizes a feasibility study which is preferable to more extreme proposals that would overturn the Higher Education Act’s 2008 ban on a federal student database. The study, which would investigate whether the National Student Clearinghouse could be expanded to be used to analyze student outcomes, should also examine the costs and benefits of any student data collection system. Other new and experimental proposals for federal programs linking data sets must also be studied carefully before implementation to ensure that the data-matching techniques proposed would indeed protect the privacy of the individual students to be included in the system.

Said Rachael Stickland, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy: “Congress is introducing data-matching bills at lightning speed, without proper study of whether the technologies being proposed would guarantee the privacy and security of the data. The PROSPER Act’s call for a feasibility study serves as a good example for Congress to move cautiously before adopting any new data systems, especially given the poor record of the federal government in protecting and securing personal data, as shown in the recent FAFSA breach.

“Members of our coalition, representing parents and privacy advocates from across the county, object to any legislation that results in the creation of federal dossiers that would track individual students through life. Individual-level data held in federal unit-record systems could be used in the future for currently unauthorized purposes, including to identify and deport undocumented students. We urge all members of Congress to keep students’ right to privacy uppermost in their minds while considering the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act.”