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Thursday, July 31, 2014

My speech when I received the Parent Voice award in DC on Monday night



Me with the board members of Parents Across America

On Monday night in Washington DC, I received the Parent Voice award from Parents Across America for my work defeating inBloom, at a dinner co-hosted by the NEA.  I was very moved and overwhelmed to receive this award, especially from fellow parents for whom I have so much respect and have worked closely with on many occasions.  Here is what I said:

I'm tremendously honored to receive this award from Parents across America - a wonderful organization that provides great tools for parents to resist damaging policies and to strengthen our public schools - and to speak up for parents in the national stage.  I am also incredibly honored to be given this award by Helen Gym, who is one of the foremost parent activists in the entire country and deserves her own award every day of the week.  I also want to thank the generosity of the NEA for co-hosting this dinner; parents and teachers working together can stop the runaway train of corporate education reform.
The inBloom saga was a hard fought battle but there is no way we could have defeated it without the  parents from all the nine inBloom states who stood up in horror and refused to take the bland assurances of their state and local officials and the Gates Foundation that this was all for their kids' benefit and their own.   
As soon as parents found out that the plan was to gather all their kids most sensitive and confidential info including their names, addresses, phones, disabilities, grades, test scores, health conditions and disciplinary records, store it on an insecure data cloud, and offer it up to vendors without their knowledge or consent, they were rightly furious and just wouldn't allow this to happen. 
Parents of all political stripes fought back and many who had no political affiliation at all and simply wanted to protect their children's privacy and safety and didn't think the potential benefits of data collection, sharing and mining were worth the risks.
I want to acknowledge some of those here tonight who helped us win this battle, including Khem Irby of Guilford NC, who stood up before her school board to protest the handing over of her children data to Bill Gates, Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch.

Robin Hiller of Voices for Education in Arizona, also Executive Director of Network for Public Education, who had me in her radio show several times to talk about the threats to privacy from inBloom and other schemes still in our future like the PARCC testing consortium.
 Rachael Stickland of Jefferson  Co Colorado who really did an amazing job organizing parents in her community against this violation of privacy.
Julie Woestehoff who scheduled briefings for me and others to speak to the editors of the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times, and co-hosted a forum for parents  that persuaded Illinois and Chicago to essentially cancel their involvement in inBloom in less than 24 hours from my arrival.
There are countless more parents and teachers who helped us fight this behemoth but couldn't be here today- activists in Louisiana, the first state to pull out, Georgia, and others. In NY, we had most of the district superintendents and school boards on our side as well, making it a lot harder for the inBloom apologists and flacks to argue that we were just naive and dumb parents who didn't understand how great this plan was and all the opportunities it would provide.

This is a template for the future that we will now use to try to strengthen the federal privacy law known as FERPA . Last week Rachael and I launched a new Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and we are visiting key congressional offices this week to get our point across that FERPA, which had been rewritten twice to essentially take out most of its privacy protections, must go back to what it was previously - a strong law that requires parental notification and consent before sharing the most intimate details of a child's life with any third party.
We will need all your help going forward, so please join us at www.studentprivacymatters.org
But more than anything else the story of inBloom provides proof that pissed off parents can achieve miracles - we can take down an $100 million project of the Gates Foundation when we work together, organize and have right on our side. 

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