New York Legislators Call on State to Halt Invasions of Student Privacy

Leaders of the New York State legislature called on the State Education Department to put a halt to their plan to turn over confidential student information to inBloom, the controversial program funded by the Gates and Carnegie Foundation with technology supplied by Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation.

According to Gotham Schools:

“Last week, Republican Senator John Flanagan introduced a bill to address looming concerns around the plan’s data privacy and security. He also called for the state to halt the initiative, which is scheduled to begin next month, for at least a year.

“Now, a group of Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Sheldon Silver and Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan, are raising their own red flags. Like Flanagan, they want the state to halt the plan, but they are also suggesting that they might not ever want to see it start up again.

“The controversy is over an initiative funded in part by federal Race to the Top grants designed to help districts use information about an individual student’s personal and academic history to create more individualized lesson plans and inform a teacher’s instruction. Some data elements being collected include test scores, report card grades, information about special needs, attendance records and disciplinary records.”

Sheldon Silver, the powerful leader of the State Assembly, wrote a letter warning:

“Until we are confident that this information can remain protected, the plan to share student data with InBloom must be put on hold,” said Silver in a statement Monday.

Legislators were reacting to widespread parent outrage over the prospect of data mining and hacking of their children’s personal information.

The parent opposition was galvanized and led by Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, who has traveled the state and nation explaining what inBloom is and the danger it poses to student privacy.

InBloom would not have been possible without the decision by Secretary Duncan to weaken the protections in FERPA, the federal legislation that is supposed to protect student privacy.

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