It’s apparently the end of the line for inBloom, but not our fight to protect student privacy

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

This morning, Stephanie Simon of Politico reports that indeed, after a long battle, the NY State Education Department has finally agreed to sever its relationship with inBloom and will ask them to delete all the student data already stored on its cloud.  This was the clear intent of the state budget bill approved on Monday, and marks the end of a long battle that started when the Regents approved this egregious contract in December 2011.

This also means that inBloom has NO known clients left, as Stephanie points out (contrary to the credulous article in the WSJ recently.)

” Massachusetts is still officially considering a contract with the nonprofit, but a state education department spokesman said it was unlikely to proceed. Illinois no longer plans to upload large amounts of data, though individual districts may participate; inBloom won’t say whether any have agreed to do so.”

In state after state, district after district, the original nine partner states of inBloom have cancelled their contracts, after protests from parents, teachers, and voters, to get rid of this data-engorging monster, the $100 million creation of the Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation.  New York state, always the Gates Foundation’s most faithful cult follower, was the last to agree to let go.

This wouldn’t have happened of course without the incredible support of parents throughout the state, who immediately recognized the threat that inBloom represented, and who contacted their school boards and Superintendents, who agreed with us and vehemently opposed the project.  Thanks to all of you!

Also thanks to Stephanie Simon, who wrote the first and still the best article in the national media on inBloom when it launched, and pursued this story when countless other journalists from the mainstream media told me that there was no news here and nothing important to report.

Instead, this turned into a multi-layered saga, full of parent protests, hearings, the overturning of a school board election,  as well as evasiveness, false information, and misleading tweets from the Gates Foundation and inBloom, ineptly trying to do damage control.

From the beginning, when we crashed an Gates learning camp, (then called the Shared Learning Collaborative) and in our frustrating meeting with Michelle Cahill of the Carnegie Corporation, it was clear that the modus operandi of these officials was to go over parents’ heads and ignore our concerns.  Instead, they appeared to be convinced that they would win by dealing solely with state and district administrators, who they felt they could buy off with promises of grant money and the like.  These educrats, including the top brass at the NY State Education Department, had no understanding or interest in dealing with the real-life concerns of parents, who simply wanted to protect their children’s privacy.

Whether inBloom will survive or morph into something else is as yet unclear.  inBloom spokesman Adam Gaber told Stephanie that the nonprofit is “pushing forward with our mission” to make student data more accessible and more useful to educators. Their goal was always to facilitate the collection and sharing of personal student information with data-mining vendors, and they may still be able to do this in one form or another.  Or the Gates Foundation may pull the plug, with no revenue coming in to make inBloom self-sustaining, and recognize the albatross that even the name inBloom has become, emblematic of all the oppressive aspects of their multi-pronged, autocratic education agenda, including the Common Core and the multi-state testing consortia, which could become inBloom-like in themselves, and with the assent of State ed departments, amass huge amounts of personal data and hand it off to vendors or use it themselves in all sorts of shady ways.

In any case, the inBloom saga has opened up a can of worms, letting us know that dangerous threats to student privacy arise from a multitude of sources, including the state agencies, avid to track your child’s data from cradle to the grave, as well as for-profit vendors, eager to collect as much highly valuable student data as possible in the name of “improving instruction” and “personalized learning” but primarily to make a buck.

Though we may have won the battle, we are far from winning the war.   Here in New York, Commissioner King will be appointing a “privacy officer” (which in my mind is akin to having the fox guarding the hen house) and will be writing regulations for the new law, whose language in many ways is ambiguous and confusing. We will all have to keep a close eye on him as he is likely to be adopting language for those regs from expensive attorneys hired by the Gates Foundation, Pearson and the like, who are his real “partners” in the educational endeavor known as corporate reform.  Keep tuned as we continue our work to inform parents, and help them fight for the right to protect their child’s privacy and security to the maximum degree possible going forward.


Categories inBloom updates | Tags: | Posted on April 2, 2014

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

Comments are closed.