Student Privacy

You can learn more about our continuing work to protect student privacy at the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy website here: http://www.studentprivacymatters.org 

Why you should opt out of student directory information.

Sample NYC parent directory opt out form here as an editable word doc;  or as a pdf.

NYC DOE form to opt out of the National Student Clearinghouse database.

Parent rights  under federal law to protect your child’s privacy  (FERPA, COPPA, and PPRA).

NY Student Privacy Law (passed in 2014): Education law SB 6356: § 2-c.  Release of student information to certain entities
and § 2-d. Unauthorized release of personally identifiable information .

Five principles to Protect Student Privacy.

For information about the inBloom controversy,  both nationally and in NY, check out this timeline and inBloom newsclips. For a selection of blog posts on inBloom, click here.  For an overview, see below.

As a result of the inBloom controversy,  110 bills were introduced on student data privacy in 36 states, with 24  signed into law.  In  2015, more than 180 student privacy bills were introduced, of which 28 became laws. So far in 2016, 36 states have introduced 112 bills, of which 16 have passed in 14 states.  Here is a summary of some of these laws.

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INBLOOM OVERVIEW

Created and funded by the Gates and Carnegie Foundations with more than $100 million, inBloom Inc. was designed to collect a maximum amount of confidential and personally identifiable student and teacher data from school districts and states throughout the country. This information — including student names, addresses, grades, test scores, economic, race, special education status, disciplinary status and more — was to be stored on a data cloud run by Amazon.com, with an operating system by Wireless/Amplify, then a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. InBloom Inc. planned to share this highly sensitive information with software companies and other for-profit vendors for a more “interoperable” education system; to facilitate the outsourcing of school operations and instruction to private corporations.

The backers of inBloom pitched the project as an effort to help students by providing more personalized learning tools, yet there are no proven benefits to online learning and there are huge risks involved in commercializing this data and storing it on a vulnerable data cloud.  In fact, inBloom’s privacy policy originally stated that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored in inBloom or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.'”

When it launched, InBloom Inc.  announced that nine states were “partners” in its data-sharing plan. However, by April 2014, after a grassroots parents revolt, all  the nine states or districts originally listed as inBloom’s “partners,”  had pulled out.  New York was the last state to do so and the only one in which it took a law to be passed over the objections of the State Education Department.  On April 1, 2014,  the  2014-2015  NY state budget bill  was signed into law by the Governor, with several provisions to improve student privacy including  barring the State Education Department from sharing personal data with any “Shared Learning infrastructure service provider” or “SLISP” –that is, a company designed to store the information for the purpose of providing it to a data dashboard company.  For more information on the privacy provisions inserted in the NY budget bill, read our blog post here.

InBloom announced it would close its doors shortly thereafter, on April 21, 2014.  Here is our statement on its demise. But the controversy over inBloom kickstarted a debate on student privacy that has not yet abated.  For the first time, parents were made aware  of how federal privacy laws had been weakened to  encourage the widespread disclosure of their children’s personal and highly sensitive information by states, districts and schools to third parties without parent knowledge or consent.

In July 2014,  many of the parent activists, involved in defeating inBloom, including Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters and Rachael Stickland of Colorado,  formed the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. Because of the egregious over-reach of the Gates Foundation and inBloom, parents throughout the country were awakened to the myriad threats to student privacy as a result of the weakening of FERPA, the federal legislation to protect student privacy,  the wide variety of data-sharing practices that districts and states are engaged in, the P12  state longitudinal data systems required by federal law, and the huge push for data-collecting, data-sharing and data-mining, all in the  name of “personalized learning.”

  • Need more answers about inBloom? Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page about inBloom here.
  • Check out our national and New York State-specific fact sheets on inBloom. Our most recent fact sheet can be found here.
  • Look over our ongoing lists of privacy-related newsclips  here.
  • If you’re looking for resources outside of New York State, go to our non-NY links page.
  • For other relevant documents, check out our inBloom updates. And watch video from the NYC April 30th, 2013 Town Hall meeting.
  • Read our inBloom, Inc timeline and for a detailed history of this issue, including our involvement.
  • Examine what kind of data elements inBloom, Inc intended to store.   An excerpt with some of the most sensitive data can be downloaded here, as a pdf. And the longer version can be downloaded here: full data elements.
  • Read Bill de Blasio’s letter before he was elected NYC Mayor to NYSED Superintendent John King and then-NYC Chancellor Dennis Walcott demanding New York to stop sharing students’ private records with corporations and to require parental consent.

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