Monday, April 8, 2013
More on inBloom, including parent right to opt out denied and potential costs to states and districts
Many NY parents received an email from Commissioner King last week, in response to their request to opt their children’s personally identifiable confidential educational records out of the inBloom database and shared with vendors without their consent. He made it clear that he does not intend to honor any requests from parents to opt out. Though he claims the purpose of sharing of this highly sensitive data is "preparing all children for college and careers," according to this Lewisboro news article, Superintendents are "collectively not thrilled by any means” about the prospect of the inBloom cloud.
Meanwhile, inBloom answered some questions on a tech blog here, claiming that it remains solely up to states and districts (their “customers”) to decide whether they will allow parent opt out or consent. But as recently as Oct. 2012, Stacey Childress, who is in charge of this project for the Gates Foundation, wrote: "Under federal law, school districts must manage and honor parent requests to opt out of programs that require the use of student data.” Unfortunately this statement seems to have been scrubbed from the inBloom website.
At the same time, inBloom refuses to reveal how much their “customers” will be charged for their services – meaning, how much states and districts will have to pay for the privilege of inBloom collecting, storing on a data cloud and sharing all this confidential student and teacher data with vendors -- but we have heard from officials in other states that the fee will be about $2-$5 per student starting in 2015.
This means NYC will be charged more than $2 million per year; or the state more than $5 million – with the likelihood that the fees will increase thereafter. Not to mention the huge financial liabilities states and districts will face if and when this data leaks out.
In addition, inBloom says that more states and districts are expected to sign up to this data sharing plan this year, and that they are also “exploring approaches to recover costs from providers who benefit from using our service to serve their customers.” Their providers are the vendors; how that is different from selling access to student data is not clear to me; is it to you? (More Details on InBloom's Plans for Student Data).