On Monday, April 29th, 2013, parents convened a meeting to highlight the issues raised by the Department of Education contract to share confidential student information with the inBloom organization, formerly known as “Shared Learning Collaborative”. This group is a brainchild of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is working in concert with Wireless Generation, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and headed up by former NYC Superintendent Joel Klein. This data is to be stored and accessed in a Cloud managed by Amazon.com. Wheels within wheels!
As noted in the accompanying slide show, the event was sponsored by the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, represented by Margaret Kelley.
Co-Sponsors included Assembly Members Danny O’Donnell, James Brennan and William Colton; NYState Senators Liz Krueger and Martin Golden; NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; NYC Council Education Chair Robert Jackson, Council Members Gale Brewer and Leticia James; Class Size Matters; the Learning Disabilities Association of NY; The Brooklyn Parent Academy; Community Education Councils of Districts 1, 3, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 (and counting), and the Citywide Council for Special Education.
The central concern involves the release of confidential information given by parents and accumulated about them as a result of enrolment in a Public School. The types of data that have already been released include but are not limited to:
• Demographic information
• Parent contact information
• Programs (which include information about advanced, remedial and Special Education programs – disclosures which experts believe are specifically prohibited by legal provisions governing IEP data)
• Disciplinary measures
• Court appearances and outcomes
It is worth noting that 86% of companies who use the Cloud for data storage do not trust the security of the Cloud for their sensitive items. Yet by storing data in the Cloud, inBloom hopes to transform accessibility and interface between all the parts of the continuum, allowing software companies and other licensees the convenience of a single platform rather than multiple formats which are unable to talk to each other and may be mutually exclusive/incompatible. Yet under these circumstances, breaches of security are inevitable, and will result first in exposure of confidential data which can very possibly impact, if not ruin, lives, and which will consequently cost the State billions in lawsuits and compensation settlements.
Comparison was made (by Adina Lopatin, Deputy Chief Information Officer for the NYC Dept. of Education) to the ARIS network created for the NYC Department of Education to handle student data and permit access by parents to their child’s educational records and even to their homework and classwork. I have noticed that in many schools, even the reporting of attendance and lunch records via ARIS regularly posed a major challenge when the internet went down, the server was out, or the website couldn’t be reached for hours, causing enormous loss of man hours. Developing ARIS cost a King’s ransom, and now it is to be replaced by another miracle of modern technology, inBloom, supposedly because it may be cheaper? Placing more Case Workers and support staff in the schools would be a far better use of this education funding!
At this point, everything is happening without parental knowledge or consent, and New York State Commissioner King has refused to allow parents to opt out.
Currently there is legislation in both the Assembly and the Senate to block the violation of parental and privacy rights.
You may ask your representatives to sign on to A06059 or S04284 – the Student Privacy Bill – by contacting them at www.nysenate.gov or www.assembly.state.ny.us or by calling the switchboard at 518 455 4100.
For more information, go to www.classsizematters.org