Valerie Strauss writes that the U.S. Department of Education plans a new student data base that will collect personally identifiable information on 12,000 students, 500 teachers, and 104 principals, and and make the data available to private contractors.


EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), the nation’s premier organization defending privacy, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education and said that its plans violate federal privacy laws.


The project is small today, only 12,000 students. But the precedent would allow larger and larger invasions of student privacy in the future.


The U.S. Department of Education worked closely with the Gates Foundation to try to establish inBloom, a data-collecting project that was halted by parent opposition. That data would have been available to private vendors too.


There is a federal law protecting student privacy. Clearly, the law should be strengthened so that the Department of Education is clearly barred from gathering personally identifiable information about any student. Under this administration, the ED has been a willing handmaiden of commercial interests, not children. This must stop.