I am compelled to write today's blog out of my passion for maintaining my children's right to privacy, as well as all students in the state of New York. For those that aren't aware, I will give a condensed history of what's been taking place. First off, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) became federal law in 1984. Very basically, it limited the authority of school officials to release personally identifiable information about any student without parental consent. You can Google this law for complete information about it.
Fast forward to April 2011. The US Department of Education initiated a proposal to amend the regulations interpreting FERPA. In December 2011 the Dept of Ed issued the final amended regulations which became effective in January 2012. What does this mean for our students? The amendments give new definition to several key terms. Now, detailed information about students along with individual student ID numbers may be "non-consensually" disclosed by "an educational agency or institution." So, just about ALL parental control was removed over data use and release of school records.
By no coincidence, then comes inBloom. This company is supported by the Gates and Carnegie Foundations to the tune of about $100 million in grants. The company intends to create a massive database and make it more efficient for school districts to store, access and process student data for educational purposes. The common platform will be held in the cloud.
This whole timeline of events is way more complex than what I'm describing here. New York State will very shortly be allowing InBloom to collect 400 points of personal data on every single student in NYS. Yes, 400...you can go right on the inBloom website and read it for yourself. So basically, every single thing about your student, including personal family information will be collected and stored in a massive database....released by your school district and without your permission..
So, here is my grave concern about data mining. The disclosure of any student's identifiable information/data without any parental consent violates a personal right to privacy . After initial disclosure, I fear there is a risk of re-disclosure and data misuse by third parties. InBloom Inc has itself warned that it "cannot guarantee the security of the information stored...or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted."
Luckily, Senator Carlucci has co-sponsored bills for more parental control over student data. It's sad when we have to take this type of measure or even legal measures as a group of New York City parents are currently doing.
At the last CCSD BOE meeting I addressed the board members and asked that they reconsider withdrawing from RTTT (Race to the top) funds and join their fellow school districts in doing so....just to even send a message. Because opting out would be the first indicator you are concerned about the privacy of our children... And yet the Clarkstown
Central School district will STILL be providing our students info ....