Bill Description: House Bill 733 would prohibit public district and charter schools from conducting surveys and collecting data about a student’s “behavior, psychological status, trauma, attitude, or social and emotional status” without consent from the board of trustees or board of directors and a parent or guardian. House Bill 733 would also require the public district or charter school to post on the school’s website certain information about any learning materials used to instruct students on social emotional learning (SEL) and mental and behavioral well-being.
Does the bill create more transparency or accountability in public education institutions? (+) Conversely, does the bill reduce transparency and accountability in such institutions? (-)
House Bill 733 would prohibit public district schools from evaluating or permitting an outside organization to evaluate any student’s “behavior, psychological status, trauma, attitude, or social and emotional status” without prior approval from the board of trustees and the student’s parent or legal guardian. House Bill 733 would also preclude public schools from collecting this sensitive, personal data about children’s personalities and behaviors without approval from the board of trustees and a parent or guardian. These same prohibitions would apply to public charter schools.
By requiring parental permission before a school or its contractor performs any evaluations on a student’s personality or behaviors, House Bill 733 would make public educational institutions more accountable to parents. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the presiding authority on social emotional learning (SEL) in pre-K and K-12 education, SEL requires that already-burdened teachers evaluate children to determine whether their traits are developing as desired. These amateur evaluations are stored in a database called a statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS), often without parental consent. Data stored in the SLDS may include information of a highly sensitive nature, including a child’s ethnicity, household income, discipline reports, grades and test scores, mental health, medical history, disabilities, or counseling records. All data from SEL evaluations is stored in Idaho’s SLDS. The state may share this information with outside organizations and potentially even foreign entities. The State Department of Education recently rebranded SEL “mental and behavioral wellbeing.” House Bill 733 would increase accountability to parents, who have the right to direct their children’s moral, social, and emotional development.
House Bill 733 would require public district and charter schools to post information about “all learning or curricular materials or activities used for student instruction on matters of social and emotional learning and mental and behavioral well-being” on their website. The posting must include “[t]he title, author, organization, and any website associated with each material and activity” and link to or describe the material. If the material has been “created for nonpublic use,” then the school must identify who created the material.
Idaho’s education system suffers from a lack of transparency. Some outside groups that present to students on mental health topics claim that their materials and presentations are proprietary trade secrets, which cannot be released to the public. The dearth of publicly available information about the mental and behavioral health materials distributed to students makes it difficult for parents to determine what their children are being taught on these sensitive subjects. Ensuring that all materials used to instruct students on mental and emotional health topics are publicly accessible increases transparency in public educational institutions.
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