FIDLAR song NSFW, so whole post is after the jump.
About eight years ago I was in France for a conference and ended up spending some time in Strasbourg on the day when French high schools got out. On my way to dinner I walked by a school just as the test scores for the year were revealed. All these kids and some of there parents were there trying to find how high their name was on the list. Some kids were really happy, taking pictures of the list with their cell phones, and some were pretty upset. The weirdest thing is that their names and relative rankings were posted publicly outside of the school (by a tram station) where everyone could see.
Any faculty member who has sat through dozens of semesterly admonitions from various administrators about how to follow FERPA knows that this kind of thing is illegal in the United States. Students (qua students, not qua consumers) have pretty robust privacy rights in the United States.
I wish it were the same for professors. Consider:
- While I am legally prohibited from disclosing any aspect of a student's performance in a class, students can say whatever they want about me on ratemyprofessors. LSU Student Senate actually set up an internal ratemyprofessors that students can fill out when they get their final grades and that all LSU students can see.
- At the beginning of each semester each department member at LSU receives the grade breakdowns of everyone in the department. As far as I can tell, this is an attempt to publicly shame grade inflators.
- Starting last semester, LSU suits began doing the same thing with respect to whether faculty member's have gotten their book orders into the campus Barnes and Noble. They send out a list to the whole department of everyone in the department who hasn't sent the list in to B&N with a legal warning that LSU complies with federal law concerning making our bookstore orders public by forcing faculty to use Barnes and Noble.*
- The LSU student newspaper keeps a public list on-line of all LSU professor's salaries (I refuse to link to it). They don't include contributions to salaries by the Tiger Athletic Foundation, so it looks like administrators and people involved with the sports program are making far less than they actually do. But it gets it right for everyone else.**
- The LSU student newspaper keeps a public list on-line of all LSU professor's political affiliations (I refuse to link to it), and
- As part of the political affiliation list, they provide GPS co-ordinates of every LSU professor's house (I refuse to link to this) in a manner that makes it trivial for any of the hundreds of thousands of LSU students/alumni to find out where any professor lives.
The last one enrages me. When you are talking about a school with this many students, some of them just are going to be very bad people. One of my colleagues had his throat cut by an violent student at his house a few years ago (story here). It was horrible.
Some faculty have been looking into getting them to take our addresses down, but we really just don't have anything like the legal protections that our own students do. Given the ruling party's animus against edumucation and teachers, I don't expect a faculty version of FERPA to pass any time soon.
[*This isn't a big deal. But it is absolutely indicative of our age's dysfunction that they are complying with a law which is supposed to make these things public so students can get the best deal by putting the list in the hands of a private company.
**In the comment section one student wrote "it's nice to see Cogburn pulling in 60 gs for just playing youtube videos in class." I thought of all sorts of obnoxious responses, but didn't post any of them. The worst involved trying to explain to this anonymous blockhead what I do in any given day. The best were probably of the bear-baiting "Dude, don't feel bad for me, my parents help me out" type.]