Parents to New York Education Leaders: No Snooping on Our Children’s Private Data

Follow Diane Ravitch

Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters and Lisa Rudley of the New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) wrote to New York State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and the Board of Regents to protest the latest Gates grant for collection and implementation of student data. They are concerned that the purpose of the grant is to re-start efforts to exploit personally identifiable student data, one of Gates’ passions. In addition, the grant went to a privately funded group (funded largely by Gates) called the Regents Research Fund, which operates as a “shadow government,” with neither transparency nor accountability.


By law, the state is required to have a Chief Privacy Officer, but no qualified person has been appointed. The acting CPO has no background in the field and has resisted complying with parent requests for information about their own children.


The quest for student data is endless:


Our concerns about expanded student data collection are also exacerbated by the fact that we have been unable to get any information about why NYSED officials decided that the personal student data collected by the state should be eventually placed into the State Archives, eight years after a student’s graduation from high school, with no date certain when it will be destroyed. We have asked what restrictions will be placed on access to that data, when if ever the data will be deleted, and have requested a copy of the memo in which state officials apparently determined that these records have “long-term historical value and should be transferred to the State Archives.”vi Neither NYSED nor the State Archives will answer our questions or provide us a copy of this memo, and instead demanded that we FOIL for it.


They point out that the same issue raised parent ire against former Commissioner John King (now the Acting Secretary of Education):


The previous Commissioner faced intense opposition from parents, school board members, district superintendents, teachers and elected officials over his plan to share personal student data with the Gates-funded data store called inBloom Inc. Because of strong public opposition and NYSED’s refusal to change course, the Legislature was forced to pass a new law to block the participation of the state in the inBloom project. The controversy over inBloom was one of the major issues that contributed to the public’s loss of trust in Commissioner King’s leadership, as well as his eventual resignation. We do not want to have to engage in such an intense battle over student privacy once again in relation to this new data collection plan.


Parents should send their own letters to the State Commissioner, the Board of Regents, and legislators. Now is the time to protect your child’s privacy rights!

Read the rest at Parents to New York Education Leaders: No Snooping on Our Children’s Private Data{ text-align: right}