Tenn. Bill Proposes Asking for Pupils’ Social Security Numbers

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 20, 2011 1 min read
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A graduate student in public policy at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee argues in a commentary that it’s not a good idea, or constitutional, for a school to require parents to provide their children’s Social Security number when enrolling them in school (hat tip to Larry Ferlazzo for picking up on this news).

She says that the bill proposed by state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, a Republican, would require that all students enrolling in school for the first time would have to present a Social Security number, passport, or visa to the school system. Weaver’s aim in introducing the bill, apparently, is to keep track of the number of undocumented students in the state and to analyze their financial impact on taxpayers.

But as Colleen Cummings notes in her opinion piece, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the landmark case, Plyler v. Doe, that children have a right to a free K-12 education in this country regardless of their immigration status.

Civil rights lawyers have translated this ruling to mean that educators can’t ask students about their immigration status. Because of the precedent set by the Supreme Court case, I doubt this bill will get very far.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.