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The Right Choice

December 22, 2013


College Choice

 College choice isn’t a decision students make at the end of senior year. Rather, its the many choices they make everyday on their way to and through college. Too often, students are making the wrong choices. This was the problem we  discussed at a recent Data Jam hosted by Stanford University.

It seems absurd that we have smartphones to help us navigate our way to a destination, yet nothing to provide students with turn-by-turn directions to get them from where they are to where they want to be. What if we had a way to clearly show them where they’re headed should they continue in the same direction? What if we could also show them how to get back on track should they get lost?

Granted, the problems in public education are not easily solved, if the were we wouldn’t still be looking at them. I will be one of the first to acknowledge that not every student has an equal privilege of choice. I know all too well the very real reasons that some of my students could not “choose” to show up to first period.

The systems of power and privilege are inequitable, but this fact can’t substantiate a delay in giving students the right to use information that could help them make the right choices.  Students must be given the power to access, understand and use their own academic data.  Students must be given the right to see their own data. With their own academic data, a student could utilize tools that tell her the probability of attending a 2 year or 4 year college. Moreover, it could give her directions to improve her chances of getting to and through post-secondary graduation. These tools would help a student visualize where she is headed and what it would take to arrive at a different destiny-ation.

Student Rights in the Digital Age – The Right Choice

We need to upgrade the Students’ Rights Handbook. While the ACLU is rightly focused on a student’s right to privacy they aren’t fully articulating the equally important rights related to a student’s access to and control of his data. In February 2012, the White House issued a framework for protecting privacy and promoting innovation in the global digital economy, which clearly articulated guidance on what citizens should expect from those who handle their personal information, and set expectations for companies that use personal data. Rights related to access, transparency and control were of particular interest, and inspired me to appropriate the articles below:

Access: Consumers Students have a right to access their data in usable formats.

Individual Control: Consumers Students have a right to understand and exercise control over data that companies collect from them and how they use it.

Making the Right Choice

There are countless others committed to redefining the potential of our nation’s public education system. What if we came together to draft  a blueprint for student rights in the digital age? Together we could will create a dynamic model that offers strong protections and enables ongoing innovation in new education technologies. When the U.S. Government released weather and GPS data to the public, it fueled an industry that today is valued at tens of billions of dollars. What if we gave students a right to their own data? What if innovators used that right as an opportunity to build a tool for students? And what if this tool told every student not only where they are, but how to get where they want to go?

An app won’t fix our nation’s inequitable public education system. Giving students the right to their own information, however, is a good step towards giving them the power to make the right choice.

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