Education Week - May 20, 2015 - (Page 19)

goVERNMENT & poLiTiCs Student-Data Use a Key Issue in Debates Over Privacy Bills TAKING STEPS State lawmakers weighing advocate, industry views By Andrew Ujifusa Building on last year's energetic debate in states over how best to protect student data, legislators have intensified efforts in 2015 to address the issue in statehouses. And this year, there's particularly prominent tension between privacy advocates concerned about loopholes through which data can be shared and used inappropriately, and the education technology providers who don't want restrictions on access to learning software and other services. The template is being set by two bills in particular-one state and one federal. The California Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (sopipa), passed last year, has been praised by data-protection advocates and is the model for bills introduced in 15 states this year. And national attention is focused on the federal Student Digital Rights and Parental Rights Act of 2015, sponsored by Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado and Republican U.S. Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, which is designed to limit the sale of student information to postsecondary institutions and restrict educators' discretion over its dissemination. Federal lawmakers have also recently discussed proposals to overhaul the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Good and Bad Cholesterol According to the Data Quality Campaign, a Washington-based organization that lobbies for the effective use of student data, 177 bills have been introduced in 45 states dealing with student-data privacy and protection so far this year, as of early May. That's up from Although more bills on student-data privacy have been introduced in states this year than last-177 in 45 states, according to the Data Quality Campaign-only 10 have been signed into law. Some of the notable legislation includes: MARYLAND House Bill 298 was signed by Gov. Larry Hogan last week. The law places new requirements on service providers for data security, but critics say there are several loopholes. VIRGINIA Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, signed four bills this year related to how student data can and can't be used, and the rights of parents concerning their children's participation in certain surveys. House Bill 2350, for example, requires the state to create a model data-security plan for districts. It also creates the new position of chief data-security officer to help districts with their security plans. UTAH This year, Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, signed House Bill 163, which requires schools to notify parents if there is a security breach involving their children's personally identifiable data. Gov. Herbert also signed a bill that requires the state school board to submit a proposal regarding how state lawmakers can update student-privacy laws. Source: Education Week 110 bills that were introduced in 36 states in 2014. But the approval rate for new laws has actually slipped dramatically. A big issue this year: how service providers use or don't use data, and in what situations they're held accountable. The right environment for providers is one in which their software or applications are tailored to students' learning experiences, and in which they can suggest other educational services based on children's data, without allowing that data to be used for things that have nothing to do with education, said Paige Kowalski, the vice president for policy and advocacy at the Data Quality Campaign. That could mean, for example, a ban on advertisements for soft drinks in applications that students are using, but not a prohibition on recommending certain products in schools that individual student data have indicated could help the child. "It's like cholesterol. Don't just lower cholesterol. It's a little more complicated than that. You want to raise one and lower another one," Ms. Kowalski said. "That wasn't something any of us were talking about a year ago." Mark Schneiderman, the senior director of education policy for the Software and Information Industry Association, who testified in a legislative hearing about a Maryland bill, said one of his organization's broader goals is to smooth over inconsistencies in various states' policies, in order "to ensure that we're not creating inappropriate barriers to technology access in the name of privacy." Avoiding Future Use One proposal this year that creates the right balance while also establishing a clear accountability system for governing student data, according to Ms. Kowalski, is Georgia Senate Bill 89. That legislation, which was signed into law by gop Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this month, allows student data to be used "for adaptive learning or customized student learning purposes" as well as "to recommend additional content or services to students." The new Georgia law also requires each local school system to designate a person to address data-privacy complaints from parents, and for the state education department to create a "chief privacy officer" and develop a model policy for handling parent complaints. Broadly speaking, states should also be working to protect student data so information from the K-12 years doesn't "come back to haunt the student later in life," said Joni Lupovitz, the vice president of policy at the San Francisco-based Common Sense Media, which advocates for student-privacy protections. "If the worst thing that happens from focusPAGE 20 > Illinois Policymakers Scramble After Pension Law Struck Down By Andrew Ujifusa An Illinois Supreme Court ruling this month that overturned a 2013 law altering pensions for retired teachers has not only scrambled the state's financial outlook: It's pushed first-year gop Gov. Bruce Rauner to seek a constitutional amendment that could clear a path for his own overhaul of retirement benefits and stop any legal challenge to it. But shoring up the state budget in light of the ruling won't be easy, in part because lawmakers allowed a statewide tax increase to partially sunset at the start of this year, a fact the justices noted in their unanimous May 8 ruling. While Gov. Rauner has a plan that would create a distinction between previously earned benefits and new, less generous ones in order to boost the pension system's fiscal health, it's not clear it would pass muster with either the legislature, controlled by Democrats, or the courts. And any constitutional amendment from Gov. Rauner to protect his plan or any other pension overhaul would require approval from 60 percent of both chambers of the legislature just to be put on the ballot. The state's highest court ruled that Senate Bill 1, signed into law by Mr. Rauner's Democratic predecessor, Gov. Pat Quinn, in 2013, violated a section of the Illinois Constitution stating that membership benefits in a state pension or retirement system "shall not be diminished or impaired." The latest numbers from the state pension system, published last year, show that the Teachers' Retirement System had $62 billion in unfunded liabilities, up from $56 billion roughly a year ago, out of $111 billion in total unfunded state-pension liabilities. "Other than to come up with the money to start paying off the unfunded liabilities, there are some options out there that are just wishing and hoping," said Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield who has studied state politics and pensions. Past vs. Future Pennsylvania lawmakers are coming to grips with their own underfunded pension systems-a bill passed by that state's Senate May 13 would require public school employees in the state pension system hired before 2010 to either pay more into the system or agree to what is effectively a reduction in their benefits. In Illinois, the 2013 law signed by Mr. Quinn and originally slated to go " Other than come up with money to start paying off the unfunded liabilities, there are some options out there that are just wishing and hoping." KENT REDFIELD University of Illinois at Springfield into effect last June would have excluded most pension issues from collective bargaining, and reduced benefits for workers below a certain level of experience, among other changes. We Are One Illinois, a coalition of groups that includes teachers' unions, immediately sued to overturn the law. Defending it in court, the state tion that reducing retirement benefits is justified by economic circumstances would require that we allow the legislature to do the very thing the pension-protection clause was designed to prevent it from doing," Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier wrote in the court's opinion. For fiscal 2016 alone, Gov. Rauner's office says, the state owes $7.6 billion pointed to Illinois' strained finances- including a $6.2 billion budget deficit heading into fiscal 2016-and the burden of the pensions. But the supreme court justices laid the blame squarely at the feet of lawmakers for not properly funding the pension system. "Indeed, accepting the state's posito the pension system, about a quarter of the state's operating budget. The governor's plan would offer public employees a lump-sum payment into a supplemental defined-benefits plan in exchange for shifting to a lower cost-of-living adjustment, among other changes. A lawyer for Gov. Rauner, Kim Fowler, told lawmakers last week that, in the governor's view, the court's opinion protects only previously earned benefits, not future ones. But Rep. Scott Drury, a Democrat, told the governor's staff that Mr. Rauner's claim that his plan is constitutional even as he seeks to amend the constitution to provide legal cover was problematic. "The court poked a lot of holes in what we did" in 2013, said Mr. Drury, who at the same time acknowledged that he wasn't sure what a sound plan for pensions would ultimately look like. Some options for the state could include a push to reamortize its pension debt and to move some of the unfunded pension burden to districts outside of Chicago, Mr. Redfield said. But the court was clear on one issue, he noted: "You can't screw around with the formula to reduce benefits." EDUCATION WEEK | May 20, 2015 | | 19

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 20, 2015

Education Week - May 20, 2015
Gifted Programs Miss Disadvantaged Students
Army of Scorers Tackles Common-Core Tests
Groups Aim to Smooth Student-Police Relations
U.S. Senate Proposal Puts Spotlight On ‘Open Educational Resources’
Civil Rights Data Detail Increase In Complaints
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Accountability Measures for Traits Like ‘Grit’ Questioned
Long-Term Gains Seen for Kids Who Move Out of Poverty
Blogs of the Week
Selective Public Schools Struggle to Diversify Enrollments
Illinois Policymakers Scramble After Pension Law Struck Down
Student-Data Use a Key Issue In Debates Over Privacy Bills
Blogs of the Week
Why Not Practice What We Preached?
Education Has to Be a ‘Human Business’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Making the Right Commitment to Student-Data Privacy
Is the Public Ever Really Private?

Education Week - May 20, 2015