Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has signed House Bill 1076, which is an effort to protect the private student data, included in forms accompanying the Common Core tests and elsewhere, from being used by identity thieves.
"I am proud to sign HB1076 into law, which will ensure student personal information is protected. Our children and parents should not have to fear the exposure of private, personal information when they enroll in school, and this bill helps prevent abuses."
Michelle Millhollon, writing from Baton Rouge for The Advocate, says that Social Security numbers have long been a part of students' school files with colleges even using them, in the past, as library cards numbers or registration numbers. That has changed because of the ever-present danger of identity theft. Therefore, Louisiana schools have been charged by parents and others with developing a unique student identification number for each student before May 1, 2015. Every student will be given their number by June 1, 2015.
A $1 million grant will assist in covering the costs of this process, says State Rep. John Schroder (R-Covington).
"Common Core brought all of this out and sort of exposed it," Schroder, the sponsor of the legislation to protect student data, said.
State Superintendent of Education John White and others were behind data sharing since it allowed teachers to get a better teaching focus based on their students' personal information. Louisiana parents were so concerned about their children's privacy being invaded that the contract with the database group called inBloom was cancelled. InBloom is supported in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is in the process of reluctantly shutting down its operations due to public concerns.
In March, writes Lauren McGaughy, of NOLA Media Group, the legislature was at an impasse over whether or not to vote on the bill concerning student privacy based on the fact that passing the bill might lead to an unintended loss of more than $1.5 billion in federal and state education funding.
Julia O'Donoghue, writing for the NOLA Media Group, says that Louisiana is not alone in its concern over student information and privacy. Nearly three dozen other states are taking up bills to try to deal with this issue in a better manner.
The bill in Louisiana prohibits the state from procuring information from the student or the student's family concerning political affiliation, mental health, sexual behavior, income, and gun ownership, among other things, without their personal consent.
Under the new law, not even the state education department will be allowed see nor keep personal data on the state's students. Students' names, addresses, and other information will be kept only at the local school district level.
"There is a total distrust of the Louisiana Department of Education and the state school board," said state school board member Carolyn Hill.
State School Board President Chas Roemer says the state department is concerned about privacy issues, as well. But, he adds that he does not think this problem is necessarily tied to Common Core.
"Data privacy is of almost universal concern," said Roemer, who is a supporter of Common Core.