CHEYENNE — Parents and others worried about federal intrusion into the state's education system and the security of student data may find some comfort in two bills approved this week by a legislative committee.

Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, told fellow Select Committee on Education Accountability members he sponsored both bills on behalf of concerned constituents.

"All of us have received a lot of feedback during this interim about federal intrusion or the potential therein," Landen said of one bill during Tuesday's meeting. "Do we need it? Perhaps not, but the bill gives assurance that we're serious about it."

The bill adds to the state's education program law a provision specifying that the state Board of Education has authority to develop an education program without excessive oversight and does not have authority to commit the state to federal oversight or regulation.

Landen's other bill requires a data security plan to be developed and imposed by the directors of the departments of Education and Enterprise Services.

The bill contains language adopted by other states to address student data privacy concerns.

Landen said his constituents have told him they are worried about the confidentiality of student data.

Since the committee's job is education accountability, it was appropriate to bring the bill before members for their consideration, he said.

Sen. Phil Nicholas, R-Laramie, said the committee could use the bill to create the state's own privacy act, incorporating language from the Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Rep Mike Madden, R-Buffalo, said information in a recent state attorney general's opinion convinced him the state doesn't need a new secrecy law.

But Rep. Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne, said the bill provides some state process the state doesn't have now, such as identifying who in a school district may have access to student data.

"We don't have a process in place for regulating our own shop," she said.

Landen agreed. He said he tells his concerned constituents that federal laws are in place to protect the student information, but they are not sure what that means or what the federal law does.

"I'd like to put something in our statutes that we take this very seriously and we do have protocols in place," Landen said.

The committee passed the secrecy bill with the intention of working on language when the budget session opens in February.

Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or joan.barron@trib.com

(13) comments

TarnishedSilver
TarnishedSilver

This is a good idea, but let's not refer to it as a "secrecy bill." More aptly it should be referred to as a privacy bill.

Completely Fed Up
Completely Fed Up

Fine, then let's see how much more backward the state's "educational" (mixed with far too much religion) system can be ... without federal funding. I swear, it's true: ignorance can be cured, but stupid, which describes the Wyoming embarrassment of a legislature, is terminal.

Not sure where you get the idea that the educational system in Wyoming is backward and that it is mixed with too much religion. You are making assertions that require specific examples. Secondly, the responsibility for education is the states'. Wyoming could easily refuse federal money for education and use some of the money from their vast mineral resources to make up for what they lose, and all this without having to adhere to federal guidelines. In the 1970's federal aid to education was less than 5% and a hot debate topic even for high school debate tournaments. As time has passed, more and more federal money has found its way into the states and local schools to where Wyoming is now receiving about 25% of their income on federal money..(Washington Post, July, 2012). Without federal money, some of the perks would be lost, but also, so would many of the federal mandates that are adopted for big city schools, not schools in states like Wyoming. A great example is No Child Left Behind. It can be done without sacrificing student learning. After all, the federal government thinks all learning can be whipped into an educational recipe where the outcome for all will be the same, or consequences prevail. Any even average educator will tell you no two students are alike and they all learn at different rates.

Completely Fed Up
Completely Fed Up

1) Students questioned after graduation regarding their favorite teacher. A student responded, "Mr. ******, because he told me, whenever the going gets tough, just look to god. He'll provide the answer." 2) A couple of divorced females shared a house with their children, since neither could afford rent on their own. The school advised them that such a living arrangement was not good for children because god would disapprove. The women were quite shocked, living as they did under the assumption that there exists a separation of church and state in this country. 3) When I contacted the librarian at a public school in regard to donating some Sherman Alexie books to the library, I expressed concern that the books might not be acceptable, since it seemed to me that most school board decisions were made in church. Her response: "That's as it should be." Needless to say, the books went elsewhere. Much of "Wyoming's" mineral wealth comes from public lands, which makes that wealth the possession of all citizens of the country. I have seen little evidence that Wyoming is doing such a great job of educating its kids. So, as I said, go ahead, tell the feds to take a hike, as the legislative morons probably will (and as they will tilt at other windmills in their effort to take control of federal lands), and we will see just what a mess the states' rights crowd will have made.

James Madison
James Madison

Completely fed up,

I'm so sick and tired of people like yourself bashing Wyoming and it's culture. By all means just leave our great state if you are so fed up.

Wyoming will never be the Godless progressive-liberal utopia you want. I can't count the times good people have helped me out on the roads, offered a handshake, a friendly smile, there are good people and yes a lot are Christians that help their neighbor out.

There's politics and then there's culture. Wyoming has a unique culture, if it's not for you leave and never look back. It's one thing to criticize political leaders and another to attack this great state and its identity.

Kool Kat
Kool Kat

Not sure where to start, Completely Fed Up
I won't address your anti-God rant but will regarding State lands verses Federal lands.

Wyoming's mineral wealth is derived from Wyoming land, not Federal land. The Federal Government (by Constitution) can not own any parts of any states, once they are incorporated into Statehood. Therefore the "land" the Federal Government "manages" is split between the State land they manage and the funds to manage with.
This is why mineral royalty is split between the State they manage for and the Federal Government. The Federal Government needs resources to manage those land and the States they manage for and the State needs good roads, school buildings and other infrastructures.

From past conversations, I know you're Indian decent and don't understand that, Native Americans pay "very little to no" taxes, to their Councils of Government. Therefore they have no money to build their schools and no money for their infrastructure.
Thus become heavily reliant on the Federal Government for any shortfalls outside Indian Royalties of Mineral Extracted from lands or Casinos for that matter within the Reservation boundaries.

Therefore the Federal Government is nothing more than a partner in managing and collecting royalties and land s fees for Wyoming and other States. As I know the Reservation s do not do things as this, therefore pale in comparison with the types of Government the Tribes have.

Cowboy Joe
Cowboy Joe

Why not refusing to take all federal dollars? Not just education funds, but highway (we can lower the drinking age), mineral royalties, public land subsidies. I'm all for paying our own way, never cash another federal check again...

99Savage
99Savage

Nationally, Wyoming is near the top in education spending. Our results nationally are near the middle, pretty mediocre all things considered. It should be obvious that more money does not equal better results. Better that the federal government get out of the education business altogether and let the states do the job. Then the states can see who gets the best results and use that as a model. Absence of federal interference will achieve better results in the long run.

Then there is the Cindy Hill fiasco. That's another subject.

wyomom4
wyomom4

The bill is a good start. Many citizens appreciate that the Legislature is taking concerns seriously. However, the bill in draft form does not include the State Longitudinal Data System which will track students from preschool into the workforce. Therefore, the scope needs to be broadened. In draft form, the bill only requires "routine and ongoing compliance with the FERPA law". This is not sufficient, as FERPA law was loosened in 2012, and now undermines parental consent provisions. Wyoming needs to have its own, more stringent, Data Privacy Act. This should include data breach reporting requirements, legal recourse/penalties for breaches, and should prohibit the inclusion of health and disciplinary records in a student's educational record. It should also be mandatory that the WDE provide a parent's with a copy of the data elements they will be collecting on each child, and the third parties to which that data may be disclosed. There needs to be a strong push for transparency at the state level. I appreciate the work the legislators are willing to do on this.

Jackalope
Jackalope

It is not difficult to find popular support for this proposed legislation, If you like the other bills that ALEC has handed out to state legislators, this suggested law will fit right in. ALEC is only intrusive when they run into a rough spot that makes their corporate sponsors have second thoughts. Read the recent account of Dana Milbank's encounter with their transparency policy in the CST.

pappy
pappy

In the 50's and 60's the US education was rated the top in the world in education. then the Feds got involved and we have done nothing but drop; coincidence maybe? During that time education was run by local school boards not the Feds or the state legislature: coincidence maybe. They more the Feds and the state are involved the more time teachers and administrators spend doing paper work to show what a good job they were doing and the less time they spend teaching. Every few years the Dept of Education gets a new hot flash and all the paperwork changes. Bureaucracy for the sake of Bureaucracy.

Kool Kat
Kool Kat

Very interesting, I'm sure hoping Wyoming can get its act together and come up with legislation to curb Wyoming from Federal involvement. Wyomingites and most Americans know what does not work, the Education Department in DC, But the resources offered through the Education Department [our taxes] are seductive.
If Wyoming was to begin to curb itself from the "feel good law makers" to the "real time rules makers" of local school districts. I think we could see better attitudes in teachers and students as well as higher learning test scores.
What's faulting the nation from being among the top to "now" among the lowest is, Government interference, via the Education Department. Perhaps now is the time for Wyoming to start weaning itself each year from the Education Department.

Jackalope
Jackalope

If Wyomingites are concerned about "feel good law makers," they should pay close attention to the bills introduced by our legislators to change education in the state. Some come from ALEC; some come from who knows where. They have a particular affinity to "testing," as long as it fits their interpretation of accountability.

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