The House Education Committee needs to hear from YOU — contact them TODAY!!
They will have a full committee work session on SB 43, a critical bill that empowers parents with active consent (opt-in) for most of the invasive, non-academic surveys public schools give students. They meet on Tuesday, March 28 starting at 10:00am.
Update: The House Education Committee has another work session scheduled for Tuesday, April 18th at 1:00pm, moved to room 305-307 in the LOB. There’s still time to contact them.
The committee is getting bombarded from school counselors and testing organizations that falsely claim these surveys are anonymous and already optional. However, we’ve received numerous reports that they are sometimes required school work and not anonymous. In fact, the head of the counseling department at Laconia High School admitted in a Concord Monitor interview that the surveys are identifiable. Typically the intrusiveness and nature of these surveys are not fully disclosed to parents to make a informed decision about their students’ participation. Sometimes surveys request sufficient information that a participant’s identity can easily be reconstructed.
Current practices and policies require only passive consent; that notice is posted in some manner, but without any explicit parental permission for participation. Just imagine a loose paper jammed into a middle-schooler’s backpack. What is the likelihood that a parent will find it among all the other pieces of homework, textbooks, and leftovers from lunch? Imagine the typical conversation between a high-school student and parent at the end of a busy day. When mom or dad asks how their day went, what is the likelihood that the teen will remember to give a notice to his/her parent? This puts the responsibility upon the child, instead of the adults.
This bill has been in the works for quite some time. HB 206 (2015) created a bi-partisan study committee to examine the numerous non-academic surveys given to our students, and is identical to SB 320 (2016) which was vetoed by Gov. Hassan. Schools routinely ask students to complete non-academic surveys and questionnaires. Usually they are part of state or federal programs or university research projects to assess students’ attitudes, values, decision-making, and behaviors.
SB 43 is consistent with federal law, the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). Note that it is directed to students’ rights in public schools and specifically regards non-academic surveys. Parents, as the guardians, are empowered to uphold these rights on behalf of their minor-aged children. The PPRA provides a long list of rights including consent before students participate, receive notice with an opportunity to opt-out, and inspect the surveys.
The Senate and House Education committees received evidence that many non-academic surveys include personal questions, and contrary to current law, students are sometimes required to share this information in class when it is not optional nor anonymous.
School officials, counselors, and representatives of many social programs have argued that student privacy is a necessary loss in order to produce higher participation rates and secure funding. The ends do not justify the means. Although some students may benefit from the social programs, it does not justify ignoring current statute, privacy concerns, and parents’ rights to direct their under-age children’s education. Like last year’s bill, SB 43 carves out an exception for the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), a survey that funds many of the supplemental programs offered in schools. This survey would continue to require passive consent (opt-out) from parents.
This is a school choice issue because children’s educational experiences should be directed by the people closest to them, the parents. Public school students should not be subject to increased risks or privacy violations simply because they attend their zip code assigned schools.
CONTACT THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE TODAY! They will have a full committee work session on SB 43 on Tuesday, March 28 starting at 10:00am. To contact the entire House Education Committee, you may send one email to HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. Below is a list of the House Education Committee members’ emails for an easy copy/paste.
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For more information including instances of required participation in these questionnaires, read Non-Academic Surveys and Parents’ Rights.