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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tuesday's elections disastrous for inBloom: Seven states out, two to go

Big News from Jefferson County, the only inBloom pilot district in Colorado. Anti-inBloom candidates swept the school board elections on Tuesday night, on Thursday their Superintendent resigned, and the existing school board unanimously voted to scrap inBloom. The school board president, Leslee Dahlkemper, was quoted as saying,  "We decided that it was important to listen to the community."   Congrats to the parents of Jefferson County, and especially activist Rachael Stickland who led the fight! See Columbine Courier, Colorado News, Michelle Malkin’s column , Politico and EdWeek
Now, only two states remain from the nine original inBloom “partners”: New York and Illinois.  
In Illinois, the parent coalition More than a Score, along with the Chicago Teachers Union, have just begun the fight. The Illinois Federation of Teachers passed a resolution against sharing any personal student data to vendors without consent, and I am going to speak at a public forum on inBloom in Chicago on November 21.
Here in New York, we are gaining strength every day.  On Tuesday, New Yorkers elected Bill de Blasio as Mayor by a huge margin.  De Blasio is already on record against inBloom, having written a letter last spring to the State Education Department and the NYC DOE against this, repeating his opposition this fall, and vowing to pull student data out of the inBloom cloud as soon as possible. Here is an excerpt from his NYC KidsPAC candidate survey:
District leaders and school boards throughout the state are speaking out in protest, returning their Race to the Top funds,  and refusing to sign up for the inBloom-linked dashboards. Superintendents from the Lower Hudson region have decided to send letters to inBloom, citing the provision in the state's contract allowing districts to opt out, and demanding that their student data be deleted.  
They are also demanding that the corporation "immediately notify us so that we can consider next steps."  South Orangetown Superintendent Kenneth Mitchell, president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents said, "Based on the contract, we believe we can do this."  
More and more, it seems inBloom's days are numbered.  If the Gates Foundation is wise, they will drop this unethical data-mining privacy-violating project, before they are targeted with lawsuits and the ensuing controversy brings down the Common Core as well. 


Anonymous said...

Out with all the Blooms! Out with Bloomberg and Out with In-Bloom!

Anonymous said...

Communist Core is NOT about is about CONTROL! Common Core is controlled by the Socialist Educrats in Washington D.C.

If Common Core Lives, Freedom Dies.

Unknown said...

I never could have imagined I'd support ANYTHING Michelle Malkin had to say. What a strange world we live in.

realrellim said...

Wow. You understand ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about what Tuesday's election meant in Jefferson County, Colorado. NOTHING.

Sure, inBloom is now dead, but we've probably also lost our teacher's union, any hope of improving school funding for the next four years (Colorado ranks in the bottom 10 in school funding), and we may even see vouchers before all is said and done. Two conservative and one Tea Party candidates were elected to a majority. Do you know what happened in Douglas County (our neighbor) when they elected a conservative majority? They refused to recognize the teachers union and forced them to contract with the district individually, started a voucher system and are working on instituting a merit-pay compensation structure. (Many of their teachers fled to Jeffco--apparently only to see the story repeated while ignorant New Yorkers cheer.)

We now have that same conservative, pro-voucher, pro-teachers carrying guns, pro-dissolving the unions group here, funded by the same dollars and likely aligned from them from the beginning. The pro-voucher group in Douglas County said they wanted to expand that influence to Jefferson County last fall. Now they've succeeded.

And you have the audacity to cheer the loss of a teachers union because it means that inBloom--WHICH WAS ALREADY IN DOUBT IN JEFFCO--now won't be doing a pilot?

Do you know that the other three board candidates--the moderates (mind you, this is a non-partisan election)--all had said they had concerns about inBloom and wanted to see a number of issues addressed before they would vote to go ahead with the pilot?

Do you know that the self-stated conservative board candidate (the Tea Party one, who stated that she was the conservative choice in this non-partisan election), somehow managed to win 62 percent of the vote, despite the fact that she didn't bother to campaign or even put out literature in her own district? (Do you know that the Tea Party types are trying to recall a state senator for a second time because she voted for universal gun checks? Do you understand how fired up the Tea Party is here?) Do you know that she also supports merit pay? Do you know that she thinks our schools have plenty of funding, despite the fact that per-pupil spending is about $700 less now than it was in 2009-10? Do you have any idea of what these candidates believed, other than they were anti-inBloom? (Do you care that all three elected candidates also opposed an education tax increase that would have put a billion dollars back into Colorado's schools, or that it was a badly-needed increase because the state has cut a billion from education and cannot rebuilt that amount thanks to the TABOR law?)

Do you know that our retiring superintendent was instrumental in getting a badly-needed mill and bond passed last year, or that she has been working incredibly hard to guarantee our teachers a fair stated-mandated compensation redesign. (Do you know that our state has mandated that 51% of teaching evaluations be based on test scores??) Do you know that at Thursday's meeting when she announced her retirement, that the board room was standing-room only as hundreds of principals, teachers and staff showed up in support and gave her multiple standing ovations?

How dare you celebrate.

Simplifying Tuesday's election as a victory of any sort proves that you know nothing. It is beyond idiotic.

Are you hoping to destroy the teachers' union and public education as we know it in those other two states too?

Please revise your headline to read: Tuesday's elections disastrous for Jeffco.

Leonie Haimson said...

My sources told me the Democratic candidates in Jeffco were completely noncommittal on inBloom, as was the teachers union, and the GOP candidates were vocally opposed -- though all of them had plenty of warning that this issue was a huge concern to parents. The president of the Colorado teachers union even wrote an oped for the Denver Post in support of inBloom, while omitting to mention they had received a big grant from the Gates Foundation. Let the JeffCo elections serve as a lesson to candidates of BOTH parties -- and the union -- that they must stand up for protecting student privacy and the parental right to consent, lest they suffer the same fate at the polls.

realrellim said...

Leonie--a warning to the teachers' union???? Are you kidding?

You've seen what happened in Douglas County. They dissolved the union. There will probably be no union for the next election and you're happy about that?

Are you suggesting that I, a Jeffco parent, should consider myself "warned?" I've attended nearly every BOE meeting and every study session about inBloom, I've written articles, I've written board members regarding concerns and also to verify the facts and you discount me?

You think my children will be better off with teachers with no union? We pay our teachers and principals less for than other districts. No one has had a raise since 2009; teachers and staff agreed to take a 3 percent pay cut in the years since. Some of that has been restored thanks to a mill levy override that we passed (and for which I spent countless hours working), but they have not had all of their pay restored to 2009 levels and now may will not see that for another four years.

The three who were vocally opposed to inBloom believe that larger class sizes are not a problem. My niece is in a first grade class with 28 students currently; my 3rd grader is in a class of 24. Some of of the 5th and 6th grade classes have sizes of 30 or more. This group thinks it's fine if they get larger.

You can pretend this is a "warning" as if there won't be real consequences (like the fact that our superintendent is retiring) or my children will be in overcrowded classes. It must be nice to pretend these issues are so clear-cut, as if anyone who's dismayed by the results of Tuesday's election must have been "pro-inBloom" and willing to sacrifice public education as we know it simply for the sake of an issue that hadn't even been decided!!

I also find it interesting that you think it was just about inBloom. The anti-inBloom candidates also were anti-Amendment 66 which, frankly, probably got them a larger number of votes than inBloom. Seventy percent of our district consists of voters without children who could care less about inBloom.

You seem to be suggesting that the groups who opposed inBloom, including the one led by Rachael Stickland, decided to vote for the self-labeled conservatives, despite the fact that they all opposed more money for schools, opposed smaller class sizes, were in favor of vouchers, have stated they will expand the number of charter and options schools, and they will all "hold teachers accountable." The last time I checked, being pro-public schools didn't translate as "against inBloom at all costs." Perhaps you might chat with them to see what they think. Even their website mentions the "difficult news" of Superintendent Stevenson retiring. Perhaps you'd realize that some very real and very ugly trade-offs have just been made.

You and others have said that Jeffco didn't know what it was getting into when it started thinking about inBloom. I am saying that you have no idea what you've getting Jeffco into by celebrating the results of Tuesday's election.

realrellim said...

For clarification, you should know two things:

1. I was never an inBloom supporter. I was at best, neutral, and at worst, not in favor. From your comments, I suspect you assume I was a cheerleader for big data and large corporations. Not so!

2. The Gates Foundation and Bloomberg himself donated money toward Amendment 66, which would have added a billion dollars back into Colorado's education budget. Colorado ranks 47th in per-pupil spending when adjusted for income. The state spends about $2500 less per pupil than the national average.

So, is it good that we'll continue to rank near the bottom in per-pupil spending so long as someone can claim it was a "warning" to Bloomberg and Gates?

Or could it be that not everything Gates and Bloomberg support is bad? (Last time I checked, the Gates Foundation also donated money for measles vaccinations in Africa and other areas. I should hope we won't start arguing that measles are clearly just fine if Gates is helping kids get vaccinated against them!) Before you jump to conclusions about mandates, you should know that the reform mandates were already passed and districts are already having to divert funds from the classroom to implement the state mandates. A66 would have provided some funding, but now, we're stuck with the mandates and without money to fund them or full-day kindergarten or preschool programs or extra money for special needs & GT.

It would be lovely if all education issues were clear cut. When they aren't, please have the courage to dive into those complexities and acknowledge them for what they are.

Anonymous said...

As a parent in JeffCo I applaud what happened in the elections. No more InBloom! Now to work with getting rid of the Common Core curriculum and the horrendous standardized testing. Thank goodness Amendment 66 didn't pass! Time for a new era.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that New York parents can fight for their student's privacy and stop Common Core too.

Leonie Haimson said...

I'm not sure where you see that I was celebrating the results of the JeffCo school board elections. I don't think I used the words celebration anywhere. What I said was the elections in JeffCo and in NYC were disastrous for inBloom... and they were. There may be other negative consequences of the elections in JeffCo, but my blog post was specifically focused on the issue of inBloom and privacy.

Anonymous said...

It is very refreshing to see a liberal "scared" eh, realrellim....

Rachael Stickland said...

realrellim: Amendment 66 was designed to fund SB 213. I suggest you read it. When you do, you will find that your vote for A66 was not what's best for public education. Don't believe the hype. I'm sure you're someone who needs to do his/her own research. Peel back the layers and see what A66 was truly designed to fund.

As for Jeffco, we have a very uncertain future ahead but inBloom had little to do with Tuesday's election outcomes. You know this to be true... look at voter turnout. Don't blame the good folks in New York who work tirelessly and thanklessly to keep our children's data out of inBloom's grubby hands. If you want to be angry, if you want to blame someone, take a good look around Jeffco and Colorado. I could give you names if you need help.

As a final note, if you wish to reference MY website in the future, you should know I am the sole administrator and content provider. Facts are very important. Let's keep to the facts, please.

realrellim said...

I don't blame the NYC folks for putting the word out about inBloom. I've quoted and linked to Haimson's site in my own articles.

What I object to is the characterization of this election as an anti-inBloom sweep. If there was ever a time to make sure we are careful with our wording, this is it. At best, what happened is a very, very mixed and dangerous blessing. They may have been anti-inBloom, but they're completely for privatization.

As far as Amendment 66, I am familiar with what it did. Whether or not the new school funding formula (SB 213) would have been better or worse than the old one is debatable; as with many things there are always trade-offs. There's no perfect formula, especially in a state with such diverse needs. And yet, I fail to see how choosing to underfund education over and over and over and over is a good plan. The idea that local districts should "just" pass mill and bonds is lovely in theory, but some districts have already maxed out the amount they can get from a mill and bond under TABOR. Here in Jeffco, I can say with a great deal of certainty that we won't have another successful mill levy override for another 8 years. My oldest will be graduating by then and my youngest will be heading into high school. I can't pretend that some extra money wouldn't have helped this situation.

Instead, we get the mandates (those were voted on earlier and will remain unfunded mandates, pulling yet more money from the classroom) and we'll get a school board that wants to divert more money to charters.

And Rachael? Your website did, when I checked it, use the word "difficult" in referencing Dr. Stevenson's retirement. It still does. See: facts! My apologies for sounding so flippant to someone with whom I have more in common than not, but for whatever reasons, it would appear that you'd rather side with the extremists than acknowledge that there's nothing clear-cut about what happened last week. All three were a lot more vocal about the fact that they don't think schools need any more money and all three were heavily funded by the same organization that fought our local mill and bond election last year.

To the parent who thinks that not passing Amendment 66 somehow means we get rid of Common Core and standardized tests: um, what? Common Core was mandated much earlier. It has been implemented. It is a state mandate. Standardized tests are a state mandate. The new board members are all about "accountability." To the conservatives, that seems to equal standardized tests (see: NCLB), so I'm a bit curious as to why you think Jeffco will abandon standardized tests when the three conservatives are so very focused on getting rid of the "bad" teachers and keeping only the really excellent ones--all of which they define by test scores.

I guess I'm supposed to celebrate the fact that we'll continue to underfund schools and we'll now spend 4x as much to build a local server that can run a classroom dashboard and my children's class sizes will get larger and we'll still have common core and we'll probably even have the PARCC test complete with our new board gloating over how little our students know after the scores fall (because we designed the cut points that way), but somehow, I can't.

On the other hand, state funding for higher ed is projected to run out within a decade anyhow, so maybe it won't matter so much if we run the public schools into the ground too.

Rachael Stickland said...

readrellim: I am not going to debate with you over and over again. I grew tired of it in email and I'm already tired of it here.

But I will respond to your comment and then be done with this conversation.

When I referenced my website I never denied the statement I made about the Supt leaving being "difficult" news. It is difficult news. What I objected to was your use of the word "their" and that's why I responded that it is "MY" website. I've been around Jeffco long enough to know what "they/their" means. I've been accused of being "they" or "them" plenty of times in the last 10 months. If I am anything, I am principled, honest and forthcoming. As such I always sign my name to what I write (you should try it, it's liberating) so when I say it is MY website, it is because it IS my website.

However, I will apologize to you here and now. Perhaps your use of the word "their" was to include my husband, as found on the "about us" page. If so, I am very sorry. But you know it is I that has the luxury of time to advocate for student privacy. While I can hold silly and useless debates such as this one, my husband can't. He's busy with the world's hardest job. Want to know what makes it harder? Having to implement ridiculous and harmful reforms that Amendment 66 would have funded in perpetuity.

We have learned a lot of lessons here but I urge you to do more research to find out who truly runs the show in Jeffco. If you strip the names and party affiliations, frankly the policies of both sides at play in Jeffco aren't very different from one another with the exception of vouchers. One side supports the Tea-party free-market agenda; the other supports the DFER/Gates corporate reform agenda. Let's be honest, they will produce the same lousy results.

To deny that we were on a dangerous road with inBloom, the Gates $5.2 million teacher PD grant, teacher compensation redesign and other reformy garbage is to deny the facts.

I'm sorry to break it to you kid but our children and teachers were losers in this election no matter the results.

Good day and good luck to you, realrellim.