School districts are treasure troves of student data, from attendance records and grades to financial and legal information. Since the pandemic, schools have provided students with take-home devices, increasing the chances that their information can be tracked. In addition, districts are often vulnerable to security breaches.
Some districts are working with outside security firms to track students’ online posts to ostensibly keep them safe. Yet, there were reports of school districts unintentionally outing LGBTQ+ students and providing students’ immigration status to government organizations. Now, there’s a growing concern that young people’s personal information could be shared in a post Roe v. Wade world.
The EWA Journalist Caucus on Student Data Privacy will examine the issue from a variety of perspectives. As part of this new online reporting community from the Education Writers Association, journalists will learn which laws and policies cover student data, how to report on security breaches at local school districts and why it matters that the information collected by districts disproportionately and negatively affects students of color. Several EWA members said this is a topic they want to cover, yet they feel ill-equipped to tackle it.
EWA invites member journalists to apply for the caucus. From February through July, participants will meet monthly to build their knowledge and skills on this topic. They will hear from experts in the field and develop relationships with fellow reporters. These will be practical sessions: Education reporters can brainstorm ideas, problem solve scenarios, understand the latest research and build a database of experts for future stories.
We anticipate approximately 20 to 30 journalists will participate in these 75-minute gatherings over the next six months.
The deadline to apply for the caucus is Feb. 14.