U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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Polis hosts local school leaders for discussion on student data privacy

Plans to introduce landmark bill by end of month

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Washington, April 10, 2015 | comments

On Monday, Rep. Jared Polis hosted more than two dozen local school leaders from Adams, Boulder, Clear Creek, Jefferson, and Larimer counties for a discussion on student data privacy challenges in today’s modern digital classroom. Polis is soliciting feedback on a draft of a bill he is currently writing to help balance greater innovation and technology capabilities with a parent’s right to protect their child’s privacy.

“A parent’s right to protect their kid’s privacy is a fundamental one that we must protect,” Polis said. “However, that doesn’t mean we should simply dismiss the power of using information and data to improve classroom instruction. Instead, we should develop best practices to ensure that this information is used responsibly. This bill is an important first step.”

“The Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) has worked hard in Colorado to address the very real issue of protecting student data, while ensuring schools can access key information to improve educational achievement for all students,” CASE Executive Director Bruce Caughey said. “It’s clear that this is a larger issue that needs to be addressed at the federal level and we appreciate Rep. Polis’ efforts in taking the lead.”

"Our district supports federal legislation that allows for the collection and use of student data that fosters an environment of trust, transparency, and classroom innovation while strongly protecting the privacy of students and staff," Dr. Bruce Messinger, Boulder Valley School District superintendent, said.

Polis expects to introduce the bipartisan bill, which he is writing with Republican Representative Luke Messer of Indiana, by the end of the month. Among other things, it would prohibit operators from advertising to students based on information collected from a student’s online behavior or use of the provided service. It would also prohibit operators from selling a student’s information to third parties for any purpose.

To help service providers tap into the huge potential for innovation with their products, it would allow operators to use information for personalized and adaptive student learning purposes. It would also allow operators to use aggregated and de-identified data to improve their products.

Reps. Polis and Messer have been working on student data privacy issues for more than a year. Last year, the two lawmakers convened a working group of teachers, parents, school groups, privacy advocates, and industry representatives that ultimately produced the Student Data Privacy Pledge.  The pledge has been signed by more than 100 tech firms, including Apple, Google, and Microsoft, and endorsed by the White House.

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Tags: Education

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