William A. Estrada
Director of Federal Relations
HSLDA

 
 
9/7/2007

No Child Left Behind
Why Congress Should Reauthorize Section 9531 to Prohibit a National Student Database

Introduction

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) came before Congress for reauthorization in early 2001 in the form of H.R. 1, The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Congress inserted section 9531 into NCLB to prohibit education information obtained under NCLB from being used to develop a nationwide database of personally identifiable information.

Section 9531 reads in its entirety:

“‘‘SEC. 9531. PROHIBITION ON NATIONWIDE DATABASE. ‘‘Nothing in this Act (other than section 1308(b)) shall be construed to authorize the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or other collections of data under this Act.”

We urge Congress to retain this language as it currently appears.

Why a national database of student information should be opposed

Privacy advocates, as well as home schoolers, religious schoolers, and private schoolers are very concerned with federal attempts to create a national database of students. It would keep detailed records of all American public school children, and may include home school or private school students who enroll in a public school class. This has the potential to increase the risk of identity theft, or even put children and their families in danger.

A national database seems to demonstrate a ‘big brother” philosophy of monitoring and tracking young citizens. It would be extremely expensive to run and maintain. Currently, the states and federal government track disaggregated data on students, leaving no clear reason for why there has to be more detailed, personally identifiable data kept on students.

Section 9531 should be reauthorized in NCLB to protect the privacy and records of students.