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ASVAB in the News: Parents, Privacy, and Precautions

“Explore your interests. Unlock your potential. Achieve your dreams. Participate in a FREE ASVAB Career Exploration Program. See your counselor to register today!”

Sounds like a great opportunity, right? Perhaps, if all students and parents know the full story, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently argued. The ACLU took up the fight with Florida’s Education Commissioner in March of this year, stating that the personal information and Social Security numbers of thousands of students are being transmitted without parental consent.

Why the outcry? While it may seem obvious to readers of this blog that the ASVAB is associated with the military, some argue that marketing like that found in the above example does not make it explicitly clear that the ASVAB Career Exploration Program is related to military service. While taking the ASVAB in no way means one is obligated to join the military, they worry that students are not fully informed about taking the test. The ACLU’s biggest complaint about this practice is that the student’s personal information and results are passed on to recruiters without student or parental consent. This personal information includes Social Security numbers, age, sex, ethnic group affiliation, and plans after graduation, and they argue its release marks the only time such information is disclosed from schools without parental consent.

Those on the opposing side, such as Lieutenant Colonel Michael D. Coleman of the U.S. Army, argue that every school receiving government funding must provide student directory information (such as name, address, and phone number) to military recruiters anyway, and that Career Exploration Programs are only one way of many that recruiters generate potential student leads. Others in favor of such programs assert that taking the ASVAB can have a positive effect on the lives of many students, as it may lead them to explore a career option that hadn’t been previously considered. And because one must be at least 18 years old to join the military, those arguing against the ACLU could argue that any actual enlistment action students take can only be done when they are fully informed, consenting adults.

As a member of the military or future member of the military, what do you think of this practice? Is it much ado about nothing or does the ACLU have a valid concern regarding parental rights and student privacy? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Privacy concerns ASVAB

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