You Thought the NSA was Invasive? Schools are Worse!

You Thought the NSA was Invasive? Schools are Worse!


Parents Upset about Invasive School Registration Questions

Across Idaho, parents are discussing the kinds of school registration questions being asked about their children and they are not happy. During the past week parents have expressed concerns about the amount of information they have to enter into Power School – a registration and data management software program used by a large number of Idaho school districts.

A troubling aspect about Power School is that parents are asked to reveal a great deal of very private information and some parents are finding it difficult to move beyond the ALERT FREEZE notice when they do not enter information. Although one parent did report, “I just leave ALL the information blank. No Drs. No medication. No parent information except my address and phone. I do this because all the information I put in there will be accessible along with my child’s photo, address, student ID, school email, password, unique student ID, EVERYTHING.”

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More than a few parents questioned the need to know details of pregnancy and birth. While most I spoke with agreed that knowing if a child was allergic to peanuts or had diabetes was important for the school and classroom teacher to know, many commented on the personal and invasive nature of the questions. As one Mom said, “Why should my son’s algebra teacher know how much he weighed at birth?”

As an example to readers, some of the information requested is listed below:

  • The medical information page asks about the mother’s pregnancy, past surgery the student may have had, medications, and more.
  • The emergency contact page asks for repetitive contact information despite the fact the parent may want only one contact.
  • The student information page asks for a student cell number even through your child may be in elementary school. The parent then must enter nonsense numbers.
  • If you the parent goes to the special programs page, you will be asked if your child is on probation (note that juvenile records are confidential).
  • The Home Language section wants to know the language your child first used to talk and the language used with friends outside the home.

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The list goes on, but you get the idea. There is more that is unnecessary and intrusive.

As parents read through the list it’s important to ask, “Does my child’s school have a legitimate reason to have this information?” After you’ve asked yourself that question, take the question to your school board trustee and building administrator. Ask that question and as a follow-up, request them to explain the rationale for asking each of these questions.

While you are asking, it doesn’t hurt to ask why opting out cannot be done online. Why does opting out require you to obtain a paper copy of the student handbook, signing, and then making sure it gets back to school? If we are truly concerned about choice and privacy one option should be as easy to exercise as the other.

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Although it is very important to take your concerns to your elected school board trustee and to school administrators, do remember that they are not the villains in this. They did not write the software and they most likely had no choice in its use. Know that much of this information is not required to teach your child nor do teachers want all of this personal information.

As you review these pages, I hope you get the same level of outrage that I do. Registration in school should be simple and require limited personal information. But don’t take it out on your local school. Take this to your legislators. It’s an election year and our Idaho Legislators have some explaining to do as to why Idaho children must have extreme amounts of very personal data collected and by a vendor that has refused to join over 150 other companies that have pledge to not sell education data.

Idahoans for Local Education encourages parents to share your school registration experiences on their website or Facebook page. Share far and wide! Join with other parents who value the right to privacy for your children. Stand up and speak out. It’s the only way to make change and to tame this data monster!