This one was well-buried on the HSLDA website, in a short article on the state of homeschooling in Missouri dealing with a parent who was asked for MORE information than the law required:
"Parents should be aware that under Missouri’s 'Sunshine Law' (chapter 610, R.S. Mo.) the public may be able to obtain access to just about anything the family files with the school system—including birth dates and Social Security numbers—that relates to a student who is homeschooled and not enrolled in the school. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 20 U.S.C. 1232g) generally only protects students of the school that holds the records and information in question. Since youngsters who are homeschooled (and not simultaneously enrolled in a public school) are not students 'of' the school, FERPA may not protect their privacy. This is one of the reasons HSLDA has consistently fought to protect the rights of families against improper demands for information."
Now, I love HSLDA. And I agree with almost all their tenets. Like them, I see parental rights as an important issue, and one that is also tied directly to the direction of a child's education. That being said, I'd rather hear on the FRONT page that information sharing between me and the local public school is a matter of public record if said child is not enrolled.
I'm a parent. I think that the safety of my children (including their identities!) is paramount. Number one! Wouldn't you think this loophole in the law ought to be dealt with by HSLDA before they worry about whether a couple gay guys in Alabama or wherever get married? (Not that I'm OK with that.) And in states where information is REQUIRED to be divulged to school districts, is it a matter of public record? Would homeschool files become a treasure trove of social security numbers and other identifying papers? Maybe it doesn't scare enough people into becoming members as the "oh no, gay people" factor... but I'm thinking from a legal standpoint, this information being a matter of public records is a form of unequal treatment of a student based on his method of education (14th Amendment rights: "...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Emphasis mine; more on FindLaw). Maybe I am wrong in coming to this conclusion... they're the lawyers, and I'm certainly not.
Sure, not too many people are stealing the identities of eight-year-olds. But it does happen. And industrious people can save that information in their pockets for later when they can use it to smuggle in an illegal immigrant, run up a credit card debt, a house loan, or default on taxes.
Seems to me that in the past, we would get letters from colleges for Patrick right around the time that MAP scores would come out. Now we have REALLY got it going on as he has taken the SAT. Sometimes two or three notes will come in at a time. (They must have no idea that he has NO MONEY to speak of.) I have myself a feeling that generally, it isn't the schools divulging all this information, but secondary sources working WITH the schools. I can't prove this in any way, as certainly the colleges don't send letters stating, "Dear Patrick, We saw your SAT score recently after it was forwarded by our search company. Blah blah talk to your counselor and take a tour so you can give us lots of money and enroll in our school."
They just don't. If I had the power to make one law that didn't have to do with basic human rights... something "extra," it would be that all telemarketers and marketing people must disclose where they got your name and number from when they're asked. You'd be surprised how often it's YOU giving out your own info on sweepstakes and the like, but it would be nice to know if, say, our mortgage company were ratting us out as being idiots who pay their bills even when housing prices decline.