Stories from KUOW and Politico (highly recommended) and information I learned about what's in a TFA contract today about student data.
One is the KUOW piece about ConnectEDU and SPS. It fleshed out what I had reported and had a couple of interesting comments. Again:
For the past three years, the school district has uploaded middle and
high school students’ names, grades, addresses and demographic data to
the website ConnectEDU. Students were able to add additional
information, such as where they’d like to go to college, and how much
they want to spend on tuition.
users would be notified and allowed to remove all personally
identifiable data from the site.
After learning that the company
had filed for bankruptcy and was looking to sell, Rahm said the district
tried to end its contract with ConnectEDU and have all student data on
the site deleted.
The company’s lawyers refused, citing bankruptcy protections.
Rahm said that’s troubling.
not concerned at this time that the sale of the company is going to
result in student data being lost, or being misused, but it definitely
is in violation of the agreement that all the schools had with
ConnectEDU in their contract, and that’s a little bit frustrating and
concerning," Rahm said.
Really? It's "a bit concerning" that that data could be sold off to the highest bidder? Not to the FTC.
In a letter to the bankruptcy judge, the FTC said that the proposed
ConnectEDU sale could violate FTC rules that bar "deceptive acts or
The FTC also said that "information about teens is
particularly sensitive, and may warrant even greater privacy protections
than those accorded to adults."
Here's what Connect EDU had to say:
A ConnectEDU attorney has promised Seattle Public Schools that any
as strong as the original.
Still, the FTC said such a sale would
likely be illegal unless the 20 million students nationwide with data on
the ConnectEDU are first notified and allowed to remove their
personally identifiable information from the site.
I'll try to keep up and let you know if Seattle Schools' student data is protected or sold to the highest bidder. The least the district could do is notify parents whose students enrolled (because I'm pretty sure that the majority of parents have no idea about any of this).
Speaking of student data, here's is what we find embedded in the Teach for America contract that is now standard. Teach for America likes to videotape its teachers and review their "instructional technique." Nothing wrong with that except that nowhere do we see if parents are notified that their children may be taped and those tapes go out of that district.
Further, TFA has its own "on-line data storage services including transfer and storage of personally identifiable student information on Teach for America's proprietary software and servers."
Meaning, TFA wants access to "student records" for their own purposes of professional development and data storage services." Further:
School District acknowledges that Teach for America may re-disclose Student Records to third parties pursuant to Teach For America's provision of the Professional Development Data Storage Services....provided that Teach for America shall, in advance, provide to School District the names of such parties and a brief description of such parties legitimate educational interest in receiving such information.
Districts are told they should include notification of FERPA rights to parents that TFA is "a school official with a legitimate educational interest."
I found this in contract after contract.
So TFA can give away information, without needing a district's permission.
Here's what I wrote about the TFA contract with SPS in 2010:
The motion has some new info in it and at least one thing I think we can
count as a win. That is that two of the more onerous FERPA issues are
gone. TFA can still use student identifiable data but cannot disclose
it to any third parties. And, they have to return or destroy any
student educational records obtained through the District, in its
possession, upon request from the District. I think we better make sure
that every year the District makes that request.
I have no idea if that remains true to this day. One more good reason for NOT hiring TFA in our district.
More on data mining students from Politico. This is a GREAT article on this issue and one that all parents should read.
And the Obama administration has encouraged it, even relaxing federal
privacy law to allow school districts to share student data more widely.
The goal is to identify potential problems early and to help kids
surmount them. But the data revolution has also put heaps of intimate
information about school children in the hands of private companies —
where it is highly vulnerable to being shared, sold or mined for profit.
A POLITICO examination of hundreds of pages of privacy policies,
terms of service and district contracts — as well as interviews with
dozens of industry and legal experts — finds gaping holes in the
protection of children’s privacy.
The amount of data being collected is staggering. Ed tech companies
of all sizes, from basement startups to global conglomerates, have
jumped into the game. The most adept are scooping up as many as 10
million unique data points on each child, each day. That’s orders of
magnitude more data than Netflix or Facebook or even Google collect on