Once upon a time, not too long ago, it was Republicans who wanted government to be as small as possible and who complained loudly every time someone proposed collecting information on individual citizens. Of course, that was when they weren’t running the government. Now that they are in charge, the government seems to want to aggregate every piece of data they can find.
A recent case in point is the proposal by the Department of Education to require every college and university to submit detailed information on all their graduates to a national databank. This would include private colleges and even students who didn’t receive federal help to pay for their education.
DOE says they only want to be able to track graduation rates and the cost of higher education. But is collecting all that personal information really necessary?
Perhaps this would be interesting information to collect, but at what cost to individual privacy? At what cost in time and effort to the government and the educational institutions? As a college president who has spent her career in higher education, I know that a system is already in place to collect statistics. This system meets the government’s need to inform public policy without intruding on students’ privacy. Since 1992 every college or university whose students receive federal financial aid has been required to submit summary data on enrollment, student aid, graduation rates and other matters via the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
I wonder if this has anything to do with another recent story about the Army not meeting its recruiting goals. Sorry. That’s just the early morning paranoid in me talking out loud.