Friday, December 20, 2013

Yoo Hoo, Seattle Times and OSPI - See You in the New Year

I called and left a message for two different people at OSPI today to get a comment about OSPI signing an agreement with the Seattle Times for student and teacher data (it was November 13, 2013 to be exact).  No one called back.

I called and talked to Jim Simon, who is the managing editor at the Times.  He's very busy, says that KUOW got it wrong on the personally identifiable student or staff-related data and they were preparing a statement.  That was about 10 am this morning and yet, the Times remains silent, both in sending anything out via e-mail or at their newspaper.

(Update: Mr. Simon phoned me late Friday afternoon.  He told me that they had talked to KUOW about the inaccuracy of their story in saying that personally identifiable information would be given to the Times via the agreement with OSPI.  He said it was a "significant" update.  I told him that was his view because, while the update is true, it does not mean that students could not be identified other ways.

He said that they had requested this agreement to get data to have a "richer" analysis for their stories. He said that this was not an "unusual" agreement.  I told him in my research I had not found many like it and he said he didn't know what was going on in the rest of the country. 

 I asked about who would get the data and he said he didn't remember everyone's name on the agreement. I asked if any were researchers and he said no, they were reporters but one, Justin Mayo, is a data analyst.  As per my reporting below, Mr. Mayo has requested "demographics" on students and that a rather large amount of data.

I mentioned that the Times got the grant from the Gates Foundation for the Times' Education Lab and now are leveraging it to get the agreement with OSPI.  He said the Times had been upfront about the grant and that they would not be told by the Foundation what to write about. 

I asked why this story - between the only daily newspaper in the state and the state education department - had not appeared in their newspaper.  He said there would be a blog post.  There is and boy, is it buried.  There is no link to it anywhere on the front page, despite it being new.  I asked if, as the editor of a newspaper, that this was not a newsworthy item.  He said they chose to put it on their blog area and that's part of the newspaper.   

An irony here about their blog piece is two-fold.  First, the Times itself NEVER reported on this agreement and yet decides the only time they WILL is to bad-mouth KUOW.  Two, is that the blog piece says that the Times asked for data from OSPI to "spot trends that might be newsworthy. 

The Times is picking and choosing what is "newsworthy" but are choosing to ignore the real story they created.  They say that KUOW has been "misleading" but to that I say, "oh pot, meet the kettle.) 

End of Update.)

It's almost as if it didn't happen.  

But hey, it's the holiday weekend and folks are busy and distracted.

I'm sure that's exactly what they are hoping will happen.

So sure, let's embrace the season (and hopefully, our loved ones) and eat and watch movies and take walks, etc.

But folks, let's vow that your students' information is not available to anyone and everyone who asked.  

Let's vow to get our legislators going on a law to protect student data privacy.  They have one already on the books in Oklahoma and I know other states are ramping up to that as well

Let's vow to tell our Superintendent and our School Board that we want to see real teeth to these agreements.  Not "may" or "can" audit safety of our service providers who get this information but "shall" and "will."  And that there will be no data going out that is not thoroughly vetted as to who is getting it, why and for what use.

And, let's vow that parents get to know each and every time data is released.  (I don't know if an parental opt-out will be a viable option - I think it should be - but you should be notified.)

On this subject of parental notification, I want to tell you about the Operations Committee meeting that I attended on October 28, 2013 where data privacy was discussed.  I talked about this before but I didn't tell you how disturbing the discussion got.
There were four Board members there; Kay Smith-Blum, Marty McLaren, Sharon Peaslee and visiting the committee, Michael deBell.

During this discussion, there was also a person from the Technology Department (not the head and I did not get this woman's name), a service provider (who was not on the agenda but also spoke, did not get her name either) and district legal counsel, Modessa Jacobs.

The question was why parents could not be notified, NOT asked for permission, just notified that their students' data was going out to service providers and others.

The pushback came from the above three individuals and Director DeBell.

To a person, they all said this about parental notification of student data being released (and keep in mind, we are talking about parents who may be immigrants or whose children are at-risk):

- it's hard to get forms back from these parents
- some immigrant parents may not be legal and may not want to return a form
- that there are "strategic and tactical" partnerships with the district they don't want to hurt and it's a "real necessity" to make academic data available to them.
- it's so tutors know what to focus on (another in that line of thinking that people who teach don't know their students very well)
- there is an "impression" that the Road Map project is more "cautious" than others in the country
- it could cost the district money to notify parents
- at one point, the SPS tech person said "there's nothing to protect against" which is a very odd thing for a technology person to EVER say.  Mr. Wright said the district would do a "reasonable" job to protect the data. (Whew! Well, now we're all relieved, right?)

All those "reasons" and yet here's what they also all said (except for the lawyer) - that the parents of these types of students probably would not understand what the notification was for and that the parents would probably want the service for their child more than the notification.

Do you know what I instantly heard in all that?

That immigrant or at-risk children have fewer rights than other students.

That parents of these students really don't need the same rights as parents to make their OWN decisions about the lives/rights/data of their own children.  

It was the most paternalistic, "we know better than they do and it's really for their children's own good" nonsense I have ever said and heard. 

No district, no district official, no elected official, no foundation, no service provider, NO ONE has the right to decide what happens to a student's data if they don't at least have the decency to NOTIFY parents.  

But the Times isn't going to do that.

The people named in the agreement - Jim Simon, Justin Mayo, Cheryl Phillips, Linda Shaw, Claudia Rowe, Katherine Long, Janet Horne Henderson and John Higgins - they weren't going to tell Seattle Public School parents.

Neither is Randy Dorn or anyone at OSPI. 

We found out because Seattle Public Schools was aghast to find out that they, too, can lose control over where data goes and why.  (Good time for them to wake up and smell the coffee.)

So, what does the Times want to start with? 

 Justin Mayo (employee/researcher), jmayo@seattletimes.com

 OSPI Contact - Deb Came or Lisa Ireland 

Contractor Project Title: Seattle Times solutions journalism project and other news reporting 

Summary Data Requested 
2009-10 2012-13 
 CEDARS -- student enrollment, demographic, program, student/staff schedule, grade history and student absence & discipline.
Assessment - MSP, HPSE, EOC, WAAS, portfolio, WELPA
Graduation/dropout
Spring 2010-2013
Student Growth Percentile data
Requested timeframe for data - "as soon as it is available"
Data files to contain: Research ID
Duration of agreement: through December 31, 2016

45 comments:

Non-Believer said...

I'm not convinced and I want specifics. The agreement between OSPI and the Seattle Times was not benign. Additionally, sharing of student discipline records is an intrusion privacy.

Any chance the Seattle Times may want to publish teacher ratings?

Non-Believer said...

Make that: Sharing of student discipline records is an intrusion of privacy.h

Anonymous said...

Not shocking, Modesta Jacobs doesn't work for Seattle anymore.

-SWWS

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Why does SeattleTimes want all this data? What is this "research" about? To get into the education business like Pearson publishing (the Economist, Financial Times)? What are they doing with all this data? Who are these ST employees and their background? How do we know the data won't be misused? How long does ST get to keep the data? Data mining is BIG business. What happens if the info they get are incorrect? What is the assurance that students cannot be identified by this data? Discipline and SPED info are particularly sensitive.

I agree this action doesn't appear benign or altruistic. It doesn't make sense why a newspaper is assigning this many reporters/ staff on this project (project--business venture??) for so many years?

this stinks

Mary Griffin said...

@Melissa,
The Times has a blog post here: http://bit.ly/1l41wbZ. This blog post seems to indicate that, in the view of the Times, that the data sharing agreement is not unusual. I have sent a public records request for a log of all data sharing agreements for the last five years as well as a public records request for the the log of all public records requests for since January, 2013.
@this stinks,
Per the agreement, the Times is allowed to use and store the data until December 31, 2014. AS you pointed out discipline and special education status is very sensitive. On the other hand, various organizations continue to ignore issues concerning disabilities and discipline, and as I have pointed out previously, those issues continue to remain unaddressed. I am not sure, though, that the Times is the agency that should be addressing them. The Times has commercial, political, news production and other interests which may conflict with the role of "educational research." This is extremely concerning to me. I am glad to know that the data will be de-identified but I remain very skeptical that allowing media access to such sensitive information is the right thing to do.

The purpose outlined by the Times in the agreement is: We will be using the CEDARS data to look for various trends throughout Washington. We are interested in comparing schools/districts based on multiple factors: test scores, demographics, graduation rates,
student growth percentiles, etc. Among other analyses, we will be looking for places that are exceeding expectations and those that are struggling.

Disgusted said...

Thanks, Mary. I look forward hearing back.

I've signed the appropriate forms to prevent my children's information from being distributed, but that seems to mean- nothing!

Parents should be the individuals controlling their children's information.

Similar to the CCER contract, OSPI's contract with The Seattle Times leaves the gate wide -open, and allows the Times to ask for a wide breath of student information.

This stinks is correct. There are a lot of individuals working on this project. Funny things happen when Gates provides grants to newspapers.

On another note, Linda Shaw and the new ed. guy is working on this project, too. With Gates paying their salary, I'm confident we won't be seeing much in the way of independent reporting.

Really Honest said...

The KUOW story links to the contract between OSPI and Seattle Times.

Under:

Identification of authorized Contractor Officials:

"The Seattle Times may request access to and limited use of information contained in student assessment AS WELL AS OTHER CONFIDENTIAL DATA for the purposes stated in their agreement."

In other words, OSPI may not have released SS numbers, but ST has access to a variety of confidential information about OUR children.

Anonymous said...

I want to get some clarity here on what you all find most troubling with this agreement. Is it the fact that it is the Seattle Times and not an actual researcher requesting the data?

For argument's sake, let's say a researcher at UW made a similar request because he or she wanted to uncover whether a restorative justice approach implemented in some districts was decreasing the incidence of disproportionate discipline and leading to lower dropout rates over time. This is a totally made up study, but knowing that the data was de-identified and the researcher;s purpose was to gain knowledge about educational interventions, not to investigate individual students, would this change anything?

This is an honest question!

Thanks

Honesty

Our Children said...



The district wants to take dollars out of our classrooms to fund BrainBox; an instrument that tracks every child. Then, this information will be turned over to organizations like CCER and Seattle Times.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Honesty, I have written about this issue and will write more.

To understand, the future coin of the realm - for business and government -is data. And even more to the point, what is referred to as Big Data.

The DOE itself cites over 400 points of data (and inBloom has that same list at their website).

It's one thing when it's adults and another when it's children.

SPS has already confirmed that more and more service providers and other agencies want more and more data.

There is a three-fold problem with all this data going out.

One, the more data, the more entities with access, the more chances it will be breached. Look at Target, look at Sony, look at the recent accidental loading of confidential student health data in Chicago Schools.

Two, why so MUCH data? Do these entities really know what they are looking at and how to interpret it? I don't think so. I think a lot of data is going to be used to shape a narrative or agenda, depending on the entity.

Three, why do so many entities want highly sensitive data like Sped and discipline and even if child is a foster or adopted child?

The Times is a for-profit entity. They are not educational providers or researchers. There is no valid governmental reason to be turning over data to them. The district and OSPI can release data - and does - about student performance.

No, there's more going on than just wanting to inform the public.

If I were a parent, I would give the district as little data as I possibly could.


Research 101 said...

I took a research classes in college. Here are 2 of the first things they taught me:

1. Who wants the research?

2. What will they do with the
research?

Anonymous said...

And, yes, Honesty, it does matter that a for-profit, editorially-biased entity like the Seattle Times is involved. I know for a fact that UW researchers receive data files all the time from OSPI with student numbers and teacher names. These studies follow strict protocols concerning the use of human subjects. The Seattle Times would work under no such protocols. This is the Gates Foundation finding a way to get their hands on data to drive their agenda. Teacher ratings, principal bonuses, school grades, you bet!

I think the people of Seattle should be furious about this. I canceled when the Times ran their own ads for charter schools (and, in a cynical Seattle way, for marriage equality). How many time can I cancel?

Emile

Mary Griffin said...

Here is a response to this issue from Heather Gillette, President of the Washington State PTA:

"A recent on-line article by KUOW interviewed me on the topic of student privacy in light of the Seattle Times being granted access to student records in partnership with the State. I wanted to elaborate on the Washington State PTA’s views, and our National PTA’s views, on student privacy.

Parents assume that confidential information about their children is going to be kept confidential. One of the challenges that parents have in our state, however, is that Washington defines public disclosure very broadly. This can be a good thing and it can also be a bad thing depending on what information is released and how it is used. In this specific instance, the State Department of Education willingly shared information with the Seattle Times as part of their research studies program called “Education Lab.”

It has been determined that the information was released without a public disclosure request and the request was granted for the purpose of research. This recent action highlights the challenges that our legislators face in upholding the ability of public or private entities access to information and the need to protect our children from unwanted exposure. Our National organization has printed a white sheet on student privacy and I have included the link below. Our legislative team will be discussing this issue and pursuing a course of action over the next few weeks leading up to the legislative session."

The link to the "guide" that Heather mentions is at http://bit.ly/19ZljTq

I am glad this has the attention of the state PTA. I had been working on the resolution around this issue for the state PTA, but it was clear to me that it wasn't going to get anywhere, particularly after the National PTA came out with their "guidance" around the issue of data and privacy. In previous discussions with various people in the WA State PTA, including people on the legislative committee, it was clear to me that they did not understand the issue. I would say, however, that the previous legislative liaison, Ramona Hattendorf, did understand the issue fairly well.

I don't agree with Ms. Gilette's view that the issue has to do with that our state defines public disclosure broadly. This wasn't a public records request, it was data sharing. I think the issue has to do with the weakening of FERPA in 2011 to allow such access to entities claiming do do educational research and nothing to do with laws pertaining to public records requests.

Mary Griffin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Griffin said...

@Emile,

There are no human subjects involved in data sharing contracts. It is only data. Personally identifiable data, yes, but no humans.

Human subjects would have to give consent. There is no consent involved here.

I believe you are probably referring to studies or research involving humans, not the data generated by humans through their attendance at publicly funded schools. The Seattle Times is not proposing to do research on students.

Having said all that, though, I agree with you that there are definitely differences in motivation, intention and other characteristics between a news organization and a university.

Mary Griffin said...

Regarding giving the district data, Melissa is right. I think special ed parents in particular need to pay attention to this issue, and even if you decide to send in information, invest in a nice new Sharpie and heavily redact reports you send in so that only necessary information is shared.

Just an FYI, though, the data shared through the state's longitudinal education data system, CEDARS, is not going to include most information that you give to the district.

Anonymous said...

Mary, you're right about the human subjects difference. Thanks for taking the time to clarify.

Emile

mirmac1 said...

Let's see, Modessa Jacobs has told the board on multiple ocassions that SPS has NOT shared data with Road Map. She makes sure not to mention CCER. Because we all know that Susan Enfield signed away years of confidential data for SE Seattle students, all in the name of Road Map/CCER.

Good riddance.

mirmac1 said...

The relaxed FERPA "protections" now allowed the SEA/LEA to declare anything "directory information" as long as the third-party performing "research" uses some kind of security (like passwords?). Next we'll hear Target wants confidential information to identify retail-worthy trends.

Mary Griffin said...

@mirmac1, I'm not sure you and I have the same understanding of the functions of FERPA. My understanding of FERPA does not include changing the meaning of "directory information" depending on security. Directory information under FERPA is stated this way: Student's name
Address
Telephone listing
Electronic mail address
Photograph
Date and place of birth
Major field of study
Dates of attendance
Grade level
Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
Weight and height of members of athletic teams
Degrees, honors, and awards received
The most recent educational agency or institution attended
Student ID number, user ID, or other unique personal identifier used to communicate in electronic systems that cannot be used to access education records without a PIN, password, etc." This is similar to Seattle Public Schools policy on directory information

Can you cite your source for your claim?

Anonymous said...

Here is section 99.32 of the CFR where record keeping requirements for disclosure of student information as protected by FERPA is detailed.

OSPI is not the owner of the student record as far as my understanding goes. Seattle Schools was not notified or contacted to engage in this "education research" - so how exactly would the citation of disclosure be added to the students' records?

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-1998-title34-vol1/pdf/CFR-1998-title34-vol1-sec99-32.pdf

Ann D

Lynn said...

Ann D - that appears to only apply to personally identifiable information.

Anonymous said...

If OSPI owns the longitudinal student records data in CEDARS then they also have to allow for student records requests as well as review of requested changes to the record and an appeal process. Really OSPI?

http://www.k12.wa.us/cedars/default.aspx

Ann D

Anonymous said...

Maybe we need to have our state legislature change the requirements locally so that each disclosure of any information needs to be cited in the student record by any party who is administering the data and that they will allow each sstiudent the right of review and amendment/appeal.


Through Twiiter this week I learned that:

Representative Elizabeth Scott will be filing a student privacy bill in #waleg, HB 2783

It would be great to crowd source additional local privacy protections beyond FERPA.

Ann D

Mary Griffin said...

@Ann D.

Please note I'm not a lawyer, I'm a nurse. I believe that you've got the "Code of Federal Regulations" from 1998. I believe here is the current CFR for FERPA records release of personally identifiable information. See page 18 of http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf.

My reading of this is that OSPI, as a state education authority, most certainly can release personally identifiable information (PII). My reading indicates that they must record the name of the party to whom the information was released as well as that party's legitimate interest. This information must be sent to the LEA (the district) within 30 days of release of the information.

Anonymous said...

I should clarify that some of the info on the DOE site was written unclearly regarding disclosure record-keeping, hence my confusion

Ann D

Mary Griffin said...

@Ann D,
Elizabeth Scott? Oy Vey. Do you have the text?

Your Thoughts? said...

Some concerns revolve around physician, psychologist reports used for educational purposes.

Mary links to FERPA. Please see page 5- section 4(I). This section deals with records that are maintained by physician, psychologist and other professionals to assist paraprofessional capacity.

It seems there may be very concerning fine lines drawn between HIPPA and FERPA.

Does anyone know if CCER or Seattle Times would be able to access via the district and or OSPI such confidential information??

mirmac1 said...

From the EPIC lawsuit, challenging the revision to FERPA regulations under the Administrative Procedures Act:

The agency states that the amended regulations "modify the definition of directory information to clarify that an educational agency or institution may designate as directory information and nonconsensually disclose a student ID number or other unique personal identifier that is diplayed on a student ID card or badge if the identifier cannot be used to gain access to education records except when used in consjunction iwth one or more factors that authenticate the user's identity, such as a PIN, password, or other factor know or possessed only by the authorized user." The DOE did not deny the essence of this statement of fact.

Let me see. I'm guessing the Times password is "NO_Estate_Tax"

mirmac1 said...

Note that the "studies" exception to FERPA reads:

These studies can only be for the purpose of developing, validating or adaministering predictive tests; administering student aid programs; or improving instruction.

What is the Times doing to improve instruction? Developing assessments? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Mary Griffin said...

Mirmac1,

I believe you have misunderstood the password issue. What this is referencing is the changes in the law itself, not that an educational agency changes anything. FERPA now states that student ID's can now be released as part of directory information as long as ID's + a password are what is needed to access student information by the student or the student's parent's guardian. As an example, when I was in college a long time ago, the only thing I needed to access my grades on a test or my semester grades was my my student ID. There was no password. Currently, in order to access student information on the Source, a person needs the ID AND the password for each student. This has nothing to do with the Seattle Times having a password. If there are schools that have a system where only an ID is used, then the ID would not be released under FERPA.

Mary Griffin said...

@Your thoughts,

You raise a very important question. I'm going to attempt to answer, but please know I am not an expert on this question.

First of all, people need to know that all records retained by a public educational institution that receives federal money are governed by laws under FERPA and state laws. Medical records magically transform into educational records once they are transferred to an educational institution. HIPPA privacy laws do not pertain to institutions which are not health care institutions, so they do not generally apply to schools. It should be noted here that clinics or counseling or other health care which is provided by the school also is not subject to the provisions of HIPPA, unless the clinic, etc, is provided by an outside medical provider.

For a special education student, separate files would generally be maintained. One would contain medical records, and another would contain special education records.

Having said that, I will say that state law (see RCW 70.02) regarding "health care records" maintained by a school only allow access to those health care records to people who provide health care. Furthermore, disclosure to individuals who do not provide healthcare can only occur after parent/guardian consent. Additionally there are safeguards which require additional permission around mental health, HIV and family planning.

I have often see psychological assessments, though, seemingly fairly accessible. I have also seen many documents that have far too much information on them. For example, I have seen a community-based provider's records which spent a fair amount of time delving into the very stigmatizing personal and criminal history of biological parents which has very little relationship to the child at hand.

CEDARS is a database. All records are retained using fields with certain codes. As an example, behavior and discipline have codes 1-13, none of which accurately describe the number 1 reason student are disciplined in SPS--disruptive behavior--which would be coded as "Other behavior resulting in Intervention."


So, to answer your question--no, I do not think these records themselves are released to CCER, CEDARS or the Seattle Times. I do have concerns related to other releases which are being given to Community Based Organizations, but I need to get clarification on that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have a message into Rep Scott's office and I have written multiple legislators on this issue. It may only take one brave legislator to get this ball rolling.

The fact that the district and the state are figuratively patting parents on the head and saying, "don't worry" should tell you something.

That Mary Griffin and Miramac and others seem to have done the deep dive to TRULY understand this issue and explain it to you - not the state nor the district - should tell you something.

Thoughts? said...

Thanks, Mary. I look forward to hearing back.

The contract allows CCER to ask for additional information, which is not outlined in the contract.

There is a very slippery slope between behavioral, educational and psychological reports.

Thoughts? said...

Whatever the legal answer to researchers in regard to psychological and educational reports, I still have to call BS.

Mistakes happen all the time. I'm also certain that researchers would love to get their hands on complicated issues regarding psychological, behavior and education.

Po3 said...

So basically the Times source says everybody is getting the story wrong - but then claims to have no info when pressed on details?

And we are supposed to believe that the Times reporters are also going to become data analysts to provide its readers with thought-provoking education stories....in its blog?

Wow. Just wow.

Anonymous said...

I've been following this story since it broke on KUOW last week. And like many of you (if not all), I'm particularly disturbed by what the Seattle Times is doing. Not only is their Educational Lab funded by the Gates Foundations (how is that ethical, I ask?), but this agreement between the newspaper and OSPI allowing the Times to receive data that is not available through a normal public request (and which potentially violates FERPA) is eye-brow raising indeed.

Now to my point and a little bit of info for you guys.

My point: The Times is blowing smoke up our butts when they claim that the information that they are being given is stripped of any identifiable information. I call BS on that.

My little bit of info for you all is this: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/educationlab/2013/12/17/question-of-the-week-how-can-your-school-do-better-in-2014/

Yes, the Times is running a question/informal survey in which they are soliciting information about school, principal, and teacher performance from parents. And they require that parents provide their address and phone number. Know what that means? Yup. The Times can identify the school, their child (potentially) and their child's teacher(s) and principal (by triangulating the address with any identifiable details that a parent gives, unwittingly or not, about school staff).

This is very creepy and disturbing, folks. Watch the Times like a hawk. They're not to be trusted. At all.

Anonymous said...

I've been following this story since it broke on KUOW last week. And like many of you (if not all), I'm particularly disturbed by what the Seattle Times is doing. Not only is their Educational Lab funded by the Gates Foundations (how is that ethical, I ask?), but this agreement between the newspaper and OSPI allowing the Times to receive data that is not available through a normal public request (and which potentially violates FERPA) is eye-brow raising indeed.

Now to my point and a little bit of info for you guys.

My point: The Times is blowing smoke up our butts when they claim that the information that they are being given is stripped of any identifiable information. I call BS on that.

My little bit of info for you all is this: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/educationlab/2013/12/17/question-of-the-week-how-can-your-school-do-better-in-2014/

Yes, the Times is running a question/informal survey in which they are soliciting information about school, principal, and teacher performance from parents. And they require that parents provide their address and phone number. Know what that means? Yup. The Times can identify the school, their child (potentially) and their child's teacher(s) and principal (by triangulating the address with any identifiable details that a parent gives, unwittingly or not, about school staff).

This is very creepy and disturbing, folks. Watch the Times like a hawk. They're not to be trusted. At all.

-EW

Independent Reporting said...


More on Gates and grants funding Seattle Times:

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/educationlab/2013/10/24/education-lab-qa/

I'd asked a former reporter at a large Seattle newspaper regarding this issue:

Q "Would grants impact your reporting?"

A "Would you be afraid of your boss?"

Mary Griffin said...

The Seattle Times says that the Education Lab's objective is to "spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest."

Well I guess they've sparked one. Here's some other conversation starters for the Seattle Times holiday party. "Should state longitudinal databases be accessed by commercial interests without parental knowledge or consent?" "Do parents even know what is happening to the data that is produced as their child wends their way through the public school system?" "How much do billionaires's foundations shape the conversation of what the issues even are?" "What happens when the National PTA, the only national group that is supposed to represent parents' concerns, takes large amounts of money from the same foundation as the entities who are setting the standards, who are making the curriculum, who are writing the tests, who are lobbbying for the laws, who are doing the research and who are reporting on it?"

These are questions they will not touch. Why? Because the "Education Lab" has a bias that they refuse to acknowledge.

If the Education Lab wants to talk about solutions, they need to talk about what the question is first. What is the question and who is defining it?

ConcernedSPSParent said...

I have written to Mr. Dorn I would suggest others do too. In my opinion he has demonstrated he is not a good guardian of our children's confidential data.

Anonymous said...

Emile is right in that a real nonprofit research organization would have some oversight. Even in the absence of direct contact with human subjects, a Human Subjects Protection group or IRB would review the potential benefits of the research vs the risks (primarily confidentiality breaches.) Of course, my frame of reference is medical data. I suppose the standards of medical research will not be applied to education until something Really Bad happens, sigh.
Chris S.

Mary Griffin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Griffin said...

Yes, Chris S., oversight is what I am familiar with, too. And I come at it from an academic medical standpoint, too. I'm pretty sure that with everyone becoming an expert on education now, the standards for doing educational research are pretty low.

I have a master's degree in a completely unrelated field. I have attended several schools. I have an opinion on charter schools. I feel I completely qualified to do research on education. I've half a mind (or more) to drive over the University of Washington Bothell, park my car in one of their lots, google "charter schools" on my smart phone and call myself an "Expert Educational Researcher on Charter Schools at the University of Washington Bothell," the same as some other folks at another local educational reform entity.