Monday, February 17, 2020

Unnecessary and burdensome, HB 1230 raises privacy concerns

Some thoughts on HB 1230, which places more strings on the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program.
  • Accountability is vitally important, but it makes no sense to impose upon a market an accountability system designed to regulate a monopoly. Government regulations are a pale imitation of the true accountability system—accountability to parents. As political scientist Greg Foster says, "there is no real need to regulate private schools, in choice programs or otherwise, for anything other than health and safety."
  • This is especially true when one realizes that public schools are not accountable. Indeed, as one retired public school teacher puts it, "there is no entity in America that is less accountable than a government-run school system."
  • Republicans believe in reducing, not increasing, red tape. President Donald Trump boasts of a “record number of regulations eliminated” while Gov. Kevin Stitt is aiming for a 25 percent reduction in regulations by the end of his term.
  • Submitting extensive data to government officials to publish online raises serious privacy concerns:
    • Just last month, for example, we learned that the Arizona Department of Education handed over a spreadsheet containing private data on participating school-choice families to a group that wants to shut down school-choice programs. "The sheet gave the names and email addresses of more than 7,000 parents, the grades their children are in, and the children’s disabilities (if any)," Dr. Forster writes. "While the private data had been superficially covered, mandatory steps to prevent the process from being reversed—revealing the data—had not been taken."
    • The Oklahoma Department of Education (OSDE), similarly no fan of school choice, has also demonstrated a recent willingness to cooperate with the organized left.
    • Oklahoma Watch reported on Feb. 14 that thousands of Oklahoma students received recruitment flyers in the mail from a virtual charter school and that "parents are furious about the school’s access to children’s names and home addresses." The school’s attorney, Drew Edmondson, said the school got the information from the OSDE website. "This is a violation of privacy and safety," says one Noble Public Schools board member. "We have received alarming complaints," says state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.
  • The only failed example of private-school choice in U.S. history is school vouchers in Louisiana, Dr. Forster writes, where, because of overregulation, participation rates by private schools were catastrophically low. "The problem was not any one obviously bad regulation. There was no 'poison pill.' Each individual regulation, by itself, was not a dealbreaker. The problem was the accumulated weight of many intrusive regulations, whose combined burden was far greater than expected. One important aspect of that was the clear signals that the schools got from the government that more regulations would be coming in the future. Private schools told the program’s evaluators that they didn’t want to sign up to be subject to unpredictable future creation of regulatory liabilities."
  • Dr. Donnie Peal, executive director of the Oklahoma Private School Accreditation Commission (OPSAC), reminds us that Oklahoma private schools are already accountable to state and federal governmental entities as well as to OPSAC, which works in collaboration with and on behalf of the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Dr. Peal says HB 1230 is unnecessary.

  • "Legislation imposing new reporting mandates on a school-choice program has passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives," Ray Carter reported Feb. 19, "even though the legislation does not include specific student-privacy protections that ensure compliance with federal law."
  • The day after HB1230 passed the House, the bill's author, state Rep. Mark McBride, flipped off and verbally attacked OCPA president Jonathan Small in the state Capitol building. As Small recounts the incident, McBride's words "included saying I was the 'f' word at least twice, calling me a piece of 's----' twice, saying I was worthless twice, twice referring to me as a derogatory word for male genitalia, and twice telling me to 'scat' like I was some sort of animal."
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt signed HB 1230 into law.

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