Posts Tagged ‘Rupert Murdoch’

PSAT for 10-29-13: Plan to attend 11/21 forum on student data privacy

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

inbloomflyerPURE, Parents Across America, More Than a Score, the Chicago Teachers’ Union, and other groups are co-sponsoring an important forum on the threat to student data privacy.

The free, public event will take place in Chicago on Thursday, November 21, 2013, from 7 to 8:30 pm at Fosco Park, which is conveniently located at 13th and Racine.

Childcare and Spanish translation will be provided.

The main speaker will be Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters in New York City. Leonie is the nation’s foremost parent expert on inBloom and the current threat to student data privacy.

You can find some excellent background information on the CSM website, and local highlights on the More Than a Score website.

Why is this forum so important right now?

Beginning in January 2014, the state of Illinois may begin collecting up to 400 “data points” about each CPS and Illinois student under a contract with inBloom. This information that may be shared with for-profit companies. The program, called the Illinois Shared Learning Environment, or ISLE, is already being piloted in Bloomington and Normal.

PURE, MTAS and other groups sent letters to state superintendent Christopher Koch and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett on October 10 expressing opposition to the overall concept of sharing confidential student and teacher information with third parties without permission of parents or teachers, especially for commercial purposes. To date, we have not received a response from either school official.

Our letters detailed our concerns about the possibility of data breaches and potential unintentional misuse or future inappropriate use of the extensive private information about children, families and school employees that will be gathered and stored. We know that InBloom refuses to guarantee the security of this data. We also know that Wireless Generation, which designed the operating system for inBloom, is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and that Murdoch has been accused in the UK and the US of wiretapping and phone hacking.

The information to be collected about individual students may include name, address, grades, test scores, detailed disciplinary and health records, race, ethnicity, economic status, disabilities & other highly sensitive personal and family details. In the past, students’ school records could not be shared outside of school agencies without parents’ permission, but the federal government recently rewrote the regulations protecting student privacy to allow student data to be shared with for-profit companies involved in “educational programing.” This can be any company CPS or the state board of education chooses.

For more on this serious threat to our children’s privacy, read the MTAS fact sheet and backgrounder, “More Testing, Less Privacy?”

And please plan to attend the important forum on November 21. You can download a flyer to share here.

Illinois still in student data mining program

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

spybloomYesterday the Tribune printed a Reuters story about the InBloom  (formerly Wireless Generation) program funded by Bill Gates that is currently collecting student confidential records it plans to share with private software companies. InBloom says it cannot guarantee the safety of this data.

The story reported that several states or districts which InBloom claimed were part of “Phase 1” of their project have either disavowed any involvement or pulled out.

The only remaining inBloom clients at this point are Illinois, Colorado and New York. Currently only Bloomington and Normal school districts are involved in our state, but Illinois plans to add Chicago and 34 other districts in 2014.

I’ve written about this before, and tip my hat to the tireless work of my PAA colleague Leonie Haimson to expose this enormous threat to family privacy. I’ll share more on this tomorrow for Public Schools Action Tuesday, but meanwhile, here’s the letter I just sent to the Tribune:

Thank you for publishing the excellent Stephanie Simon piece about states choosing not to share confidential student and teacher data with the Gates-funded corporation called inBloom Inc. Most parents are unaware of this threatened encroachment on family privacy which is already underway in the Bloomington and Normal school district and is slated to start in the Chicago Public Schools and 34 other districts in January 2014.

The confidential data being collected by InBloom includes children’s personally identifiable information such as name, address, grades, test scores, detailed disciplinary and health records, race, ethnicity, economic status, disabilities and other highly sensitive information. It is being collected into an electronic “data store” with an operating system built by Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of News Corporation, a company owned by Rupert Murdoch which has been found to have illegally violated privacy in Great Britain and in the US. The “data store” will be placed on a vulnerable data cloud managed by InBloom Inc. has already stated that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored…or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.” InBloom Inc. intends to make all this highly confidential data available to commercial vendors to help them develop and market their “learning products.”

All of this is happening without parental knowledge or consent, and is encouraged by federal privacy rule changes made last year by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. As Simon's report points out, several states have reconsidered their earlier agreements to join this questionable program.

Illinois should do the same.

Julie Woestehoff

Executive Director

Parents United for Responsible Education

Chicago, IL


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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.