Parents in New Hampshire fought long and hard to pass a state law that would require written consent before their children took an invasive survey in their local public school. We heard from parents and school board members across New Hampshire describing how they found out their child took a controversial and personal survey without their knowledge.
Last year Governor Christopher Sununu supported parents by signing SB43 which came from the study committee on HB206 in 2015. Schools must now receive written consent from parents before their children can take an invasive non-academic surveys at school.
During the study committee several people objected to “informed parental consent” when surveys are given to children. One of their arguments centered around the potential for losing grant funding if parents had to submit written permission for their children to participate in these invasive surveys. It’s important to note that parents are required to submit permission slips for field trips or to take Tylenol for a headache. It will take some extra effort to get permission from parents in order for their children to fill out the survey, but it is well worth the effort.
Senator James Gray now seeks to repeal those efforts with his proposed legislation, SB 431.
These surveys are invasive and, survey companies will say that they are anonymous. Prior testimony from Jon DiPietro, an expert in data security, dispelled the myth that this information is anonymous. Not only is it not anonymous, there are questions that specifically identify the student in order to track their answers over several years.
In past hearings, legislators heard from New Hampshire parents who were upset by the invasive surveys given to their children and that they never received notification. Parents were even more concerned that the disturbing questions could drum up repressed emotions or trauma for which they were not aware of the survey, they were then unable to discuss it with their children.
There should never be a license to void privacy rights to collect personal data for researchers or other government bureaucrats.
Public administrators and bureaucrats will always be asking for things that will make their job “easier” or for “a little more money.”
Essentially, “opt out” makes the assumption an entire family voluntarily gives up their right to privacy. This is wrong.
In the private sector when it comes to surveys, industry standards and best management practices require “opt in” as the standard. There is no justification to carve out a special standard for schools when it comes to the issue of parental rights and privacy. For an example of an invasive survey, please see the latest one from the University of New Hampshire:
Parents need to stand up for their rights and let their senators know that there should be NO repeal of their right to informed written consent before any non-academic survey is given.
Please call Governor Sununu (603-271-2121) and thank him for his past support and to continue to support parents by rejecting any effort to repeal their rights. Let him know that you oppose SB431!
Contact the New Hampshire Senators and ask them to uphold informed written consent from parents and to vote NO on SB431: [email protected]
Ann Marie Banfield currently volunteers as the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire. She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can contact her at: [email protected]