A Brilliant Use of Freedom of Information Act Requests

There’s little doubt that children tend to be far more creative than adults. For example, while us stuffy adults are using the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests (and their equivalent in foreign countries) to obtained heavily censored reports about the government’s misdeeds one brilliant child decided to use them for something more practical:

A German schoolboy has taken exam preparation to ingenious new levels by making a freedom of information request to see the questions in his forthcoming Abitur tests, the equivalent of A-levels in the UK.

Simon Schräder, 17, from Münster, used the internet platform fragdenstaat.de (“ask the state”), to ask the education ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia for “the tasks of the centrally-made Abitur examinations in the senior classes of high school in the current school year”. He was specifically invoking his state’s freedom of information law.

Schräder set the ministry the legally allowed one-month deadline – falling on 21 April – to comply, though his first exam is on 16 April.

Since schools are generally part of the state I believe FoIA requests and their foreign equivalents should force the state to hand over test questions. Test questions cannot be claimed to impact national security since they’re made public to every student taking the test during the time of the test. There’s no real way to claim handing over test questions could impact anything a current administration is doing or planning to do. The only excuse the state could come up with for not handing over such information is to admit the truth about freedom of information laws, which is that they exist to give the people the illusion that they can hold the state accountable. As soon as freedom of information laws inconvenience the state they are either ignored entirely or the material is surrendered only after being heavily redacted.