Posts Tagged ‘student data privacy’

inBloom closes down

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Flower - no PetalsAfter months of parent pushback on the threat to student data privacy, a campaign spearheaded by PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson of NYC’s Class Size Matters, inBloom today announced that they are closing their offices. We congratulate Leonie and all of the parents, teachers, students and others around the country who stood up and spoke out against the potential commercialization of our children’s school information.

Here’s Leonie’s statement:

Today’s announcement that inBloom is closing its doors  will hopefully make government officials, corporations and foundations more aware that parental concerns cannot be ignored, and that they must stop foisting their “solutions” on our schools and classrooms with no attention given to the legitimate concerns of parents and their right to protect their children from harm.
Yet the statement issued by inBloom’s CEO reeks of arrogance and condescension, and makes it clear that those in charge still have not learned any lessons from this debacle.  The fervent opposition to inBloom among parents throughout the country did not result from “misunderstandings”,  but inBloom‘s utter inability to provide a convincing rationale that would supercede the huge risks to student security and privacy involved.
Contrary to the claims of Iwan Streichenberger and others,  InBloom was  not designed to protect student privacy but the opposite: to facilitate the sharing of children’s personal and very sensitive information with data-mining vendors,  with no attention paid to the need for parental notification or consent, and this is something that parents will not stand for.  In New York, the last state to pull out of inBloom and the only one in which legislation was needed to do so, parents were joined by superintendents and teachers in pointing out that the risks to children’s privacy and safety far outweighed any educational benefits.
At the same time, we realize that the fight for student privacy is just beginning. There are more and more data-mining vendors who, with the help of government officials, foundations, and think-tanks, are eager to make money off of student information in the name of “big data” and “personalized” learning, and in the process see parents, if they recognize our existence at all, as ignorant obstacles to their Orwellian plans.  This is despite the fact that the educational value of putting kids on computers and subjecting them to canned software programs is not supported by evidence, and is yet another way in which children’s education is being mechanized, depersonalized, and outsourced to corporate hands.
As a consequence to inBloom’s overreach, parents throughout the country have also become painfully aware of the way in which the federal government has actively encouraged data-sharing and data-mining of personal student information by eviscerating FERPA.  We will continue to work with parents and advocates to see that the federal government returns to its original role as protecting  student privacy, and recognizing the parental right to notification and consent,  rather than furthering the ability of for-profit vendors and other third parties to commercialize this data without regard to its potential harm.

inBloom bombs out in Chicago

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

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.

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.

PSAT for 6-4-13: Dump inBloom in Illinois!

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

psat_logoToday I’m sharing an action alert from Stop Common Core Illinois as a follow-up to yesterday’s blog:

ACTION ALERT: Let’s dump inBloom student data collection in Illinois!

Posted on June 3, 2013 by

Ok Illinois we’re not being loud enough! We are one of only THREE states not dumping InBloom!

Today call The ISBE at (217) 557-6763!

Listen friends we can talk about CC and data tracking, but unless we fight we won’t rid our state of this! You, yes YOU have to pick up the phone and call! Don’t expect everyone else to do it. 

If you don’t want your child tracked with InBloom then call!! TODAY!

Use their contact form:

Page three of this document has your local regional office:

Go to their FB page:

Go to the boards next meeting:
(it’s in Naperville!)

Tweet them:

Again don’t just sit on this! Call, write, tweet, and MAKE SOME NOISE! Tell them we want out of InBloom!!!

Christopher Koch got our state in Common Core and the data tracking with RTTT…let him know what you think! (Call one of these numbers and ask for him…it’s the main office number: 866/262-6663 • 217/782-4321)

Here’s a list of the board members:

Warning to Chicago about threat to student privacy

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Telescope 2From NYC’s Leonie Haimson:

Dear Karen Lewis and other Chicago friends and allies (among the SOS folks):

Thank you for fighting so valiantly to preserve public education in Chicago.  We are all with you in spirit.

I wanted to alert you to yet another real threat to your schools.

Yesterday, Stephanie Simon of Reuters revealed that at least four states have pulled out of the data mining Gates-funded operation called inBloom Inc., because of privacy concerns and protests from parents, and several others are reconsidering.  Only three states remain currently involved, NY, CO and IL.

Yet she also revealed that Illinois plans to expand inBloom data sharing and data mining to 35 districts serving half a million students starting in 2015.

Here is the list of these “RTT” districts, which includes the Chicago public schools (D 299).

inBloom violates teacher privacy as well as student privacy; see Anthony Cody about how:

Will the Data Warehouse Become Every Student and Teacher’s “Permanent Record”?

Anthony doesn’t mention one of the biggest threats – the ultimate goal is to replace teachers with software programs and increase class size to huge levels as you can see in the inBloom promotional video.

inBloom is collecting more than 400 data points – and some of the most sensitive information one can possibly imagine.  We got a list straight off the inBloom website. An excerpt with some of the most troubling data can be downloaded here, as a pdf. And the longer version can be downloaded here: full data elements.

Even if one believes in the efficacy of online learning, data clouds are notoriously vulnerable, and inBloom has stated that it will not be responsible if the data breaches in storage or transmission.  Please be aware of this huge threat to your children’s privacy and safety as well as that of teachers.

If you’d like more information on inBloom and their goal to commercialize student data and provide it to as many for-profit vendors as possible, you can check out my inBloom page here, with links to (now many) news articles, documents etc.

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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.