Federal and state funding make up about 40% of the funds Missouri schools receive to educate all children. The other (approximately) 60% comes from our local taxes. Federal and state funding provide resources for schools that assure opportunity and equity among districts, such as Title Funding, School Lunches and transportation. Data collection provides necessary information to show that these services are warranted and that all populations of students are being served.
I am not afraid of this data collection or the uses of the aggregated data that our state and federal government need to provide essential school services. What concerns me more, as a parent, is the use of "directory information" within school districts. In many cases anyone can access "public information" for any reason, unless the district has an "opt-out" policy. I found out about directory information when my daughter (who was under 18 at the time) received a mailing from a political campaign. I made a phone call to the politician and he explained to me the process of simply asking our school district for a mailing list. He only had to pay a minimal fee for the printing of the list to acquire this public information.
According to my district, "directory information" means information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to: name of student; present address; electronic mail address; telephone number; name of parent and/or guardian; step-parent; sex; photograph; date and place of birth; dates of attendance; grade level; enrollment status (e.g., elementary, secondary); present school or most recent
educational agency or institution attended.
At the time, the only opt-out policy was "all or nothing" meaning that if I opted out, my daughter's name would not be included in the yearbook or the PTA directory. Since this discovery, because of better data collection technology, our district now allows for more specific opt-out strategies.
What directory information does your school district provide? Are you able to opt-out of the release of public information to political campaigns and "etc."? Are you filing the proper forms to do so? If you don't know the answers to these questions, you should ask. To me, this represents a greater risk to our students than what is shared with our federal government.