Collecting personalized information on both behavioral and academic criteria on our children and making that data available to federal, state and outside contractors is a serious breach of expectations of privacy and the law. If the experience of other states is a guideline, Florida will face expensive implementation and lawsuits over passage of bills currently in our legislature. Once parents find out that their child's data will be collected without their permission, there will also be an enormous backlash against elected officials who favor invasion of child and family privacy.
We do not believe that parents of school age children fully understand the data collection that is part of the Common Core Education Standards, assessments and longitudinal data system. Because the privacy protections passed by Congress in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prevents the use of student level data without consent, have been so weakened by the Obama administration, a more careful and informed decision with parental input and expert academic and legal opinion must be made before bills such as SB878, SB1624, and HB 7091 are enacted into law.
Because the federal government and other states are already being sued for Common Core related data, privacy invasions by such groups as the ACLU, Florida is similarly at risk of legal action. The bills mentioned above increase our risk of lawsuit by extending the standards, assessments, and data collection of Common Core to include broader age groups, provide easier access to data by third parties, including foundations and corporations that are funding and promoting these drastic changes, and look to steer students into careers dictated by business, not student choice. Other ver important issues include decreased academic quality according to expert opinion, high cost, unfunded mandates on school districts, loss of local control, lack of evidence that these standards will work, harm to teacher autonomy, and potential harm to private and home schooled students. We urge that you table these bills until more parental input is obtained, legal issues are settled regarding data privacy and violations of federal law, other expert opinion is consulted, and a thorough cost analysis is performed.
Senators and Representatives, who vote in favor of these bills and are up for re-election, may find it difficult to avoid a primary contest in 2014 because of their “yes” vote on these bills.
We realize that acceptance of the Common Core Standards was not a matter for legislative review and enactment. However, willingly extending the onerous provisions of the Common Core Standards system will reflect very poorly on members of the Florida legislature. You have made very wise decisions to oppose the loss of state sovereignty, high cost, invasion of privacy and decreased quality involved with the Affordable Care Act. The same should be true of your decisions regarding this federal intrusion into education. The issues are quite analogous.
We believe that the Common Core Standards are a violation of the right to privacy for Florida children and their parents, will cause serious harm to the academic achievement of Florida students, and cost too much.
Thank you for your time and consideration of gathering more information before bringing these bills to the floor.