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Monday, April 21, 2014

Statement on inBloom's overdue demise

UPDATE: news clips of inBloom's closing was covered in WSJEducation Week , Newsday, Washington Post AnswerSheet, NYTimes blog, Schoolbook/WNYC, Times Union, and Chalkbeat.

Today's announcement that inBloom is closing its doors will hopefully make government officials, corporations and foundations more aware that parental concerns cannot be ignored, and that they must stop foisting their “solutions” on our schools and classrooms with no attention given to the legitimate concerns of parents and their right to protect their children from harm.

Yet the statement issued by inBloom’s CEO reeks of arrogance and condescension, and makes it clear that those in charge still have not learned any lessons from this debacle.  The fervent opposition to inBloom among parents throughout the country did not result from “misunderstandings”  but inBloom‘s utter inability to provide a convincing rationale that would supercede the huge risks to student security and privacy involved.

Contrary to the claims of Iwan Streichenberger and others,  InBloom was  not designed to protect student privacy but the opposite: to facilitate the sharing of children’s personal and very sensitive information with data-mining vendors,  with no attention paid to the need for parental notification or consent, and this is something that parents will not stand for.  In New York, the last state to pull out of inBloom and the only one in which legislation was needed to do so, parents were joined by superintendents and teachers in pointing out that the risks to children’s privacy and safety far outweighed any educational benefits.

At the same time, we realize that the fight for student privacy is just beginning. There are more and more data-mining vendors who, with the help of government officials, foundations, and think-tanks, are eager to make money off of student information in the name of “big data” and “personalized” learning, and in the process see parents, if they recognize our existence at all, as ignorant obstacles to their Orwellian plans.  This is despite the fact that the educational value of putting kids on computers and subjecting them to canned software programs is not supported by evidence, and is yet another way in which children’s education is being mechanized, depersonalized, and outsourced to corporate hands. 

As a consequence to inBloom’s overreach, parents throughout the country have also become painfully aware of the way in which the federal government has actively encouraged data-sharing and data-mining of personal student information by eviscerating FERPA.  We will continue to work with parents and advocates to see that the federal government returns to its original role as protecting  student privacy, and recognizing the parental right to notification and consent,  rather than furthering the ability of for-profit vendors and other third parties to commercialize this data without regard to its potential harm.


Anonymous said...

This is an excellent statement, particularly the reference to "eviscerating FERPA." As a college senior when FERPA was enacted in 1974, there was date in my middle school records, which but for FERPA, could have derailed my career objectives. Fortunately, as I was over 18 and in full control of that data, I was able to invoke FERPA to protect my privacy and thus my career objectives.
That right should not be denied to today's students!

Michael M. said...

The inBloom is off the never-smelled-like a rose in the first place.

"Misunderstanding?" Humbug.

Again, thank you Leonie!

ZULMA, retired NYC math teacher said...

To Leonie and her colleagues, the strong and steadfast parents of public school students, you all deserve a huge shout of gratitude from everyone in NYS!

You are all AWESOME!