NAICU President David Warren Statement on The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act (S. 2169/H.R. 4479)

June 07, 2018

Late last year, the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act (S. 2169/H.R. 4479) was introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Mark Warner (D-VA). All three have advocated for improved student data, and the latest bill seeks to use improved technology to bypass a central federal database in order to ensure that student privacy is protected. A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Scott Peters (D-CA).  Thomas Rooney (R-FL) is also a co-sponsor. 

David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, issued the following statement on the proposal:

“For the past decade, there has been a protracted debate between privacy advocates and those who support the creation of a federal student level tracking system for purposes of educational evaluation.  A solution that protects student privacy while also providing more detailed insights into certain policy questions seemed elusive, at best.  The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act has the potential to make the assessments policymakers desire, but would do so without creating a permanent federal data repository on each individual U.S. student.

“NAICU believes it is essential to protect the privacy of students and their educational records.  For over four decades, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has guaranteed that students retain the right to control their own educational records. Under this federal law, institutions of higher education are subject to strict privacy requirements in their role as temporary custodians of student records. Congress should not take this essential control away from students and parents.

“There are still many unanswered questions about the feasibility of the new technology and the capacity of both the Department of Education and colleges to implement the system envisioned by the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act. But Senators Wyden, Rubio and Warner, along with Representatives Hunter, Carson, Fitzpatrick, Peters and Rooney, should be applauded for looking for an alternative that prioritizes student privacy. NAICU supports further exploration regarding the cost, effectiveness and feasibility of this new approach, and believes it has the potential to solve the privacy issues that have been central to our concerns with previous proposals.” 

David L. Warren, Ph.D.
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

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