inBloom bombs out in Chicago

Flower - Fallen PetalsCPS made it official yesterday – they will not participate in inBloom.

Their announcement came at the end of a week of action by PURE and More Than a Score challenging this private company’s threat to Chicago students’ privacy. We had meetings with the Sun-Times and Tribune editorial boards, held a forum with special guest speaker Leonie Haimson from New York City, and testified at the Illinois State Board of Education meeting. A couple of weeks earlier, Cassie Cresswell and I met with Chicago Board vice-president Jesse Ruiz and key staff to share our concerns about potential problems with the inBloom program.

Good decision by CPS.

But there is much more to be concerned about. There are 34 other districts in Illinois where the inBloom threat still looms.

And, as MTAS member Chris Ball has pointed out, on p. 41 of the CPS student code of conduct, CPS assumes the right to share student data without parent notification or consent with “school officials” which “can include contractors, consultants, volunteers or other parties under the Board’s direct control with whom the Board has agreed to outsource certain institutional services or functions, and who have a legitimate educational interest in the specific education records disclosed. The Board’s agreement with these contractors, consultants, volunteers or other parties will specifically outline the legitimate educational interest and which educational records are disclosed.”

So, CPS can call pretty much anyone it wants a “school official.”

We are also aware that there are “rogue” contractors coming into individual schools with free broadband and tablets through which they are likely also accessing student data without parental knowledge. These programs need to be regulated. Parents should ask questions about these programs and find out what is happening to the information that students enter into outside databases. They should have the right to opt their children out.

LSCs have the authority and should consider approving policies barring or restricting any programs that collect student data without parental permission.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.