Friday, April 29, 2005

Balancing privacy and parental concern.

I was in the Senate Ed committe when SB0098 was heard on 4/20/05 and recommended for passage. This bill essentially says that anyone who is paying even part of the tuition for a college attendee can, after getting the child to sign a permission form at orientation, obtain information about that student's status at the school. Heretofore federal privacy laws prevented the school from disclosing this information which could include everything from grades to visits with counseling staff.

This legislation sets up a pilot program at MTSU that, in my opinion, ought to be quickly adopted by every college and university across the nation. While the student does have the right to refuse to have the school share this information with that payee, those of us listening to the presentation at the hearing quickly agreed that any child of ours would quickly be on their own financially if such permission weren't immediately given. Knowing how well your child is doing grade-wise is important but more importantly, you'll be able to discover if they've been missing classes, ill or worse.

According to Dr. Rob Glen, VP of Student Affairs at MTSU at the 4/20 hearing the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 says a 'student is guardian of record" from about 16 or 17 years of age. Which is an interesting bit of information to me. I know that in our life I had a good bit of trouble just picking up one of my 16 year old's reserved library books one day. The library told me that despite the fact that I was financially responsible if my child lost the book, I wasn't allowed to pick it up without their permission. Something is wrong when I have to be responsible for my child's actions but am denied the information necessary to fully guard them or myself from those actions. I can be trusted to have my own child's best interests at heart. And so can the vast majority of those parents paying for that college education.

This Nashville City Paper article gives details on this bill.
Track the bill at this state webpage.

The Senate will vote on this on 5/2/05 according to the current schedule. And it's scheduled for the House Education Committee to hear on 5/4/05.

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