Jul 02 2015

A Private Matter

As chief privacy officer for the U.S. Department of Education, Kathleen Styles is tasked with balancing the benefits of student data with the need for privacy.

Her 2011 appointment was the first of its kind at the federal education agency, but the role of chief privacy officer — already commonplace in the corporate world — has since spread to the state level.


The percentage of Americans who believe it is extremely or very important to keep personal information about their kids private from corporate tracking

SOURCE: Memorandum from Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, “Americans Concerned about Privacy from Corporate and Government Surveillance,” March 31, 2014

In early June, the Georgia Department of Education named its first chief privacy officer, joining Arizona, New York and several other state education agencies that have either established or budgeted for the position in recent years.

For K–12 educators, the trend demonstrates two truths: That data collection and tracking are growing rapidly at all levels of the school system, and that student data privacy concerns are keeping pace.

In fact, advocates claim that it isn’t enough for national and state agencies to appoint chief privacy officers; school districts must follow suit.

According to the National School Boards Association, the increasing adoption of cloud services and third-party educational apps requires districts to buckle down on privacy management. It recommends that school boards perform privacy audits, regularly update policies, and consistently communicate changes with stakeholders — all with a chief privacy officer at the helm.