Who has access to your kids’ education information?

Parents are right to feel betrayed when schools collect and release information about their kids. Wendy and I have four kids, and their sensitive information doesn’t belong to someone in Washington D.C.

I’m writing to let you know about a component of the federal government’s intrusion into our children’s education that you may not have been aware of—and that I’ve recently introduced legislation to fight. You may not know, but bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and third parties currently have access to students’ private education records. As parents, we need to make sure we have complete control over our own kids’ information. That’s why I’m working to pass the Student Privacy Protection Act, which would ensure that parents and students retain complete control of education records. The legislation would implement new guidelines for schools and educational agencies that release education records and extend these privacy protections to homeschooled students too.

Just a few months ago, the Senate passed my legislation promoting local control of education, which prohibits the federal government from mandating, incentivizing, or coercing states to adopt specific academic standards, including the Common Core standards, curriculum or assessments. That was a big win in our fight to maintain local control of education. I’ll work to make necessary changes to students’ private educational records as well.

The Student Privacy Protection Act has strong support from a number of parents I’ve been talking with and important members of the Louisiana educational community.

Is this what Stanford Ponzi scheme victims deserve?

Victims of the Stanford Ponzi scheme deserve justice and protection. The Stanford lawyers, on the other hand, deserve to be punished.

But last week, Louisiana law firms announced that they’re paying $4.9 million to dismiss legal action as a result of the Stanford Ponzi Scheme. That might sound like a lot, but $1.8 billion was stolen from more than 20,000 victims of the fraud. And these were the law firms that propped up that fraud.

This settlement is a real disappointment. It’s a slap on the wrist to lawyers who facilitated the Stanford Ponzi scheme and a slap in the face to victims in Louisiana and around the world.

I’m going to make sure that we stay committed to working to get the Stanford Ponzi scheme victims compensated, and that we hold those involved accountable.

Time to Increase Seafood Safety Standards

Lasy week as Chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, I held a hearing with Obama Administration officials, as well as local Louisiana experts, to talk about the importance of increasing seafood safety standards.

As you know, the seafood industry – and the associated jobs – are important to Louisiana’s history, culture, and economic stability. We take great pride in our high standards and quality seafood. That’s why we need to make sure that foreign seafood coming into the United States is up to par.

I introduced legislation that would do just that – the Imported Safety Standards Act. My bill would give States the authority they need to ensure foreign exporters meet U.S. safety standards in conjunction with the federal government.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain agrees with me and asked that Congress give States “the authority in a cooperative endeavor agreement to be a further arm [of the federal government].”

Click here to watch my exchange with Commissioner Strain during this week’s Small Business hearing.

Standing Up for Veterans

Like many of you, I’ve been extremely frustrated by stories of backlogs and mismanagement at Veterans Administration (VA) clinics across the country – and even right here in Louisiana. Backlogs and bureaucratic delays have become the status quo at the VA, and that’s just plain shameful. It’s certainly not how we should treat our heroes when they return home.

I’ve been working to put a system in place that can withstand surges in disability claims without creating another massive backlog for our veterans. Click here to read more about our legislation. And as the Chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, I recently passed the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act which will increase access to capital for veteran entrepreneurs to help create jobs for middle class Louisiana families.

My office and I work with veterans across Louisiana every day to make sure they have access to their full benefits. If you or folks you know are having problems receiving VA benefits, please contact one of my offices. If you’ve experienced long waits or other problems with service at the VA, consider sharing your story with us through this link.

Our veterans have put everything on the line to protect our country, and in return the federal government has given them the status quo. They deserve far more than backlogs and red tape. We owe it to our veterans to provide them with the best and most accessible care possible, and our legislation will help veterans receive the benefits they deserve.

Vitter’s View: Recognizing Foster Care Awareness Month

May is Foster Care Awareness Month, and both Wendy and I are huge advocates of adoption, so let us be the first to thank all of the foster families throughout Louisiana. You generously open your homes and your families to some of our most vulnerable children, and we are all very grateful for your service to your community.

However, we still have hundreds of Louisiana children in foster care who are ready for adoption and long to be part of a family. Getting these children into permanent, loving homes is the ultimate goal.

This month is a time to reflect on the foster care system that provides for America’s children who lack stable homes. The first thing you can do is talk about it – have a conversation with your friends and neighbors. You never know who is interested in adopting and may not know where to start or what resources are available.

Louisiana is home to some great non-profit organizations who help find foster children homes. Contact my office at vitter.senate.gov to see what resources are available to you.

Adoptions can often face bureaucratic delays and hurdles that are both challenging and time-consuming for families who are navigating Louisiana’s Foster Care system. As your U.S. Senator, I’ll continue to support policies that make it easier for families to adopt and remove regulatory burdens.

When it comes down to it, we need to make sure that every Louisiana child has the opportunity to live in a stable home and that every parent knows what resources and support are available. I’m a staunch pro-life proponent, and I believe that every unborn baby has a right to life. It follows that I believe once a child is born, we should do everything we can to ensure that he or she will grow up in a safe and loving environment. In Louisiana, I’m in the majority with that belief, but I know there are some that don’t see eye to eye on this. I firmly believe that instead of allowing taxpayer dollars to be used for abortion, we should use taxpayer funds to promote important options that unite all Americans, most notably adoption and foster care.

The Foster Care system in Louisiana is doing positive work, but there’s more to be accomplished. I know with our help, it will only continue to improve. I say with certainty that Louisiana’s children in foster care have a bright future ahead of them.