Successful “Opt-Out” Policies Become Statewide Model
WATSONVILLE, CA – Local “opt-out” policies, protecting the privacy of high school students in the face of aggressive military recruitment, have become a statewide and national model. On Wednesday, the California State Assembly’s Committee on Education is holding a hearing on AB1778, the “Student and Family Privacy Protection Act of 2006,” which is based on these successful “opt-out” policies.
This school year, the two largest districts in Santa Cruz County – the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and the Santa Cruz City High School District – placed the opt-out notification on the required student emergency card, boosting opt-out rates as much as ten fold. The ‘opt-out’ notification alerts parents and students of their right to prevent their personal information from being sent to military recruiters.
In Watsonville, a predominately Latino community, the largest high school has seen a dramatic increase in opt-outs – from just 90 last year to over 900 this fall. In neighboring Aptos, the student opt-out rate is now at 63% - up from 16% last year, while in Santa Cruz city high schools, over 70% of students have opted out.
As a result of such successes, state representatives in both California and Maine have proposed statewide legislation that would require the Emergency Card Opt-Out system for hundreds of high school districts and millions of students. In California, AB1778, the “Student and Family Privacy Protection Act of 2006,” was recently introduced by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber after hearing complaints about aggressive military recruitment from San Jose-area parents.
When asked about the success of the Emergency-Card Opt-Out system, teacher Pam Sexton claimed, “it shows that when parents are properly notified about their right to opt-out, they’ll overwhelming take it.”
Community members are encouraged to contact their legislators in support of AB1778. The bill has received widespread support from groups such as the California Teachers Association, the Association of Mexican American Educators, the California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators, the American Civil Liberties Union, and school boards both locally and statewide.
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