November 25, 2013 6:51 pm

Grass Roots Report: Videos and account of hearings on the dangers of inBloom and private data-sharing in Albany and Chicago

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inBloom hearingsNPE Board member, Leonie Haimson, the Executive Director of Class Size Matters, testified recently at hearings related to student data privacy. Here is a post from Leonie’s website, NYC Public School Parents.

Video  of Wednesday’s excellent NY Assembly hearings in Albany on inBloom and student privacy are online and below, including riveting critiques from many of the Assemblymembers from both parties, who grilled Commissioner King and Associate Commissioner Ken Wagner of the NYS Education Department.  In turn, King and Wagner continued to obfuscate and tried as much as possible to avoid answering their direct questions or responding to their concerns.

Chair of the NYS Assembly Education Committee Cathy Nolan was also particularly upset because inBloom refused to show up for the hearings after being asked to testify.  InBloom claimed a “prior engagement” —  the exact same response the NYC Council received from the company when the Education Committee held their hearings last month.

I was disturbed to learn that the state had already uploaded a large amount of personal student data to the inBloom cloud, only without names attached, apparently to help inBloom “test” and develop their infrastructure  — though both Wagner and King avoided answering questions about what exact data elements were shared.

There was much compelling testimony offered by NYC parents Karen Sprowal, Valerie Williams, Vice President of CEC District 75, and Ossining parent Lisa Rudley of NYSAPE, all parents of special needs children who face the most risk from public disclosures of their disabilities.   Mary Fox Alter, Superintendent of Pleasantville schools, Karen Zevin, Croton Harmon School board member, and Tim Farley, principal of Ichabod Crane Middle School in Kinderhook NY were also eloquent in their opposition to the violation of student privacy rights this project represents.   Cathy Nolan was so impressed with Mary Fox Alter that she suggested she apply to be NYC Chancellor.

My testimony as well as that of Karen Sprowal and Valerie Williams starts at about 2 hrs 11 minute in; my written testimony is here.