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Luker wants closer look at student data privacy protection

Luker wants closer look at student data privacy protection

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
February 4, 2015

By Harvey Breaux | IdahoReporter.com

In the ever-evolving digital and information age, Americans’ information grows less secure each day.

Hackers regularly steal data, often throwing millions of people into turmoil with each offense.

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, wants to prevent such tragedies occurring with some of the most precious information government holds: data about how a student performs in the classroom.

Luker, with the help of the House Education Committee, introduced legislation Wednesday to form a task force to study how the state and local school districts handle that precious information.

Last year, former Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, introduced legislation to ensure secure collection of student data. The bill never received a hearing in either Statehouse chamber.

Even as technological innovations grow and give schools more tools to track their students and identify flaws in learning and teaching, that progress requires more data than ever. Governments now collect information in 556 different categories, Luker said, up from 400 last year.

The Boise Republican is curious about the large increase in data collection. His task force would examine state and local rules on student data collection.

Specifically, Luker suggested the task force be charged with determining which data points are necessary to track student progress and which data points need to reveal sensitive data about pupils. He also wants the panel to propose recommendations for simplifying and minimizing student data collection.

Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise, expressed some reservations about the bill, mainly that Luker’s panel would only include government officials and no members of the public. Luker said the panel’s goal is to help optimize government performance and panel findings inform policy decisions.

Upon questioning from Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, Luker confirmed the state hasn’t experienced any data breaches, but that parents often contact her with deep concerns on the topic.

Mike Rush, executive director for the State Board of Education, welcomed Luker’s idea, applauding additional scrutiny of data collection practices.

Lawmakers will likely hear the bill in coming weeks.

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