Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thurs, 11AM Press Conf on inBloom Threat to Student Privacy

The operating system for inBloom is being built by Wireless, now renamed Amplify, a subsidiary of NewsCorp owned by Rupert Murdoch and run by Joel Klein. [Note Randi Weingarten on Board of inBloom]
Leonie Haimson and crew to hold press conference Thurs, 11AM.

1.    This Thursday, March 14 at 11:15 AM we will be holding a press conference with public school parents concerned about the imminent threat to student privacy from the actions of NYS and NYC DOE. 

When: Thursday March 14 at 11:15 AM at Tweed.

As reported in Reuters, a company called inBloom Inc. is collecting the most private, sensitive, and personally identifiable student data from New York and other states,  storing it on a vulnerable “data cloud” and making it available to commercial vendors:

 “In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion.

As the article makes clear, this company plans to share this information “with private companies selling educational products and services.  Entrepreneurs can't wait.”   We learned from a press release that one of these for-profit companies that the state has signed up to use this data is called Escholar

The operating system for inBloom is being built by Wireless, now renamed Amplify, a subsidiary of NewsCorp owned by Rupert Murdoch and run by Joel Klein.   I was quoted about Amplify’s new tablet on NPR four days ago.

Thousands of parents have emailed the State Education Department and DOE to protest this arrangement; hundreds have sent opt-out letters without response.  One parent was told by a staffer at SED that they were too busy collecting and transmitting the data to inBloom to respond to parent concerns. My question is this:  if this is really for the benefit of public schoolchildren, why do they refuse to notify their parents or ask for their consent?

Please let us know if you can attend our press conference, or would like to speak at it, by emailing us off list ASAP at info@classsizematters.org
2.     Last week a new national organization called the Network for Public Education, headed by Diane Ravitch was announced, and I will be serving on its board. We will be working hard to preserve and strengthen public education from the onslaught of privatizers and profiteers that are out to plunder and dismantle it.  Please become a member, and/or subscribe to our newsletter on our website.  Some articles about this exciting new organization here and here.

And please forward this message to others who care.
Thanks, Leonie


  1. I have mixed feelings. My intuition says THIS "Big Data" initiative is wrong, and too prone to commercialization without student benefit being a priority, but I don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water. Personalized education has real value, but it needs to be implemented with proper safeguards to avoid future discrimination against students. We need to scrutinize these initiatives and permit ones that keep student data encrypted, and only usable by students, parents and school authorities SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED by parents.

    1. In a vacuum you are correct but the people pushing this are very suspect and that changes the equation. Proper safeguards? These people are robber barons. Not to be trusted even if they offer safeguards. What about parents who are not aware?

  2. I was more thinking of safeguards mandated by teachers and parents, in accord with provisions people such as yourself draft. Unaware parents are a hazard to everyone, but at least requiring parental buy-in adds a level of protection. Parents that are uncomfortable won't agree and will sound an alarm, and less active parents will hopefully be roused into attentiveness, and possible action if things seems grave enough.

    1. Reminds me of the opt-in or opt-out idea. They could push an opt out which gives them free reign. Opt in might make it tough for them. I'm wondering which parents might opt in and for what reason. Also -- data itself and how generated is suspect.
      So it's not a matter of less active parents but parents who are overwhelmed with a lot on the plate. I taught in an area where parent awareness was at such a low level and their lives so packed with struggle they would easily be taken advantage of. I trust the people like Leonie Haimson who are opposed.


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