Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Following Thru, NY State Ed Department Severs Ties to inBloom

 Update: the state of Kansas has suspended their state testing after its testing vendor was cyber-attacked and hard. From Ed Week:

While the cyber strikes scuttled the testing schedules of hundreds of schools across the state and left state officials scrambling to upgrade their security infrastructure, the full fallout is not yet known.

"We're still in 'fix-it mode' right now," said Marianne Perie, the director of the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, or CETE, which develops and administers the exams. "We're putting out the fire before we have a chance to assess the damage."

This year's administration of this year's exams is considered a pilot, and the results will not be used for accountability purposes. The content of this year's CETE exams covers mathematics and English/language arts in grades 3-8 and 11 and is aligned to the Kansas College and Career Ready standards—the Sunflower State's rebranded version of the contentious common core.

Here's something worrying:

Such attacks require significant technical expertise, he said, but can be purchased for as little as $100 on the black market.

Perie stressed that no student data has been compromised or breached as a result of the DDoS attack, which she described as solely "inbound" and not intended to access student records.

End of update.

And then there were none.

inBloom, the student data cloud created via Gates Foundation dollars, started off with a roster of about nine states.  One by one they pulled out as states - via their legislatures - started asking more questions especially around notification of parents and student data security.  New York State had been the last one standing.

But a recent report on Common Core by a group commissioned by Governor Cuomo had a number of issues raised and one of them was inBloom.  Their recommendation was to cut ties to inBloom.  The state legislature - via a budget bill - has done just that.

From the NYC Public School Parents blog:

This wouldn't have happened of course without the incredible support of parents throughout the state, who immediately recognized the threat that inBloom represented, and who contacted their school boards and Superintendents, who agreed with us and vehemently opposed the project.  Thanks to all of you!
Also thanks to Stephanie Simon, who wrote the first and still the best article in the national media on inBloom when it launched, and pursued this story when countless other journalists from the mainstream media told me that there was no news here and nothing important to report.

What is next?

Whether inBloom will survive or morph into something else is as yet unclear.  inBloom spokesman Adam Gaber told Stephanie that the nonprofit is “pushing forward with our mission” to make student data more accessible and more useful to educators. Their goal was always to facilitate the collection and sharing of personal student information with data-mining vendors, and they may still be able to do this in one form or another.  

Or the Gates Foundation may pull the plug, with no revenue coming in to make inBloom self-sustaining, and recognize the albatross that even the name inBloom has become, emblematic of all the oppressive aspects of their multi-pronged, autocratic education agenda, including the Common Core and the multi-state testing consortia, which could become inBloom-like in themselves, and with the assent of State ed departments, amass huge amounts of personal data and hand it off to vendors or use it themselves in all sorts of shady ways. 

We have already seen our own state ed department more than happy to hand off student data  - to a for-profit newspaper, no less - without telling the parents, the district or the public.  (I'm still working on getting more info on the new agreement.)

I agree with this last statement:

In any case, the inBloom saga has opened up a can of worms, letting us know that dangerous threats to student privacy arise from a multitude of sources, including the state agencies, avid to track your child's data from cradle to the grave, as well as for-profit vendors, eager to collect as much highly valuable student data as possible in the name of "improving instruction" and "personalized learning" but primarily to make a buck.   

The huge lift here belongs to Leonie Haimson, a fearless, relentless fighter, for public schools.  I met her at the Network for Public Education conference and she is truly amazing.

Don't EVER believe you cannot create change in public education.  You can and Leonie and the public school parents of New York State are proof.


dw said...

Hear, hear!

One down, hundreds to go.

The problem right now is that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of organizations sprouting up everywhere that are getting access to YOUR kids' data, and there is very little being done about it in a systematic way.

Right in our own district and state, look at CCER/RoadMap, look at ConnectEdu, look at Fusion/Edline/Blackboard, look at the Seattle Times, the heads are growing faster than they can be cut off. There needs to be systematic, legislated ways to control this kind of data gathering.

Today, the laws have been weakened so much that it's nearly impossible to predict where your kids' data ends up once it leaves your local school district. Imagine the worst case scenario of what could happen with this data in the wrong hands, imagine the worst hands you could imagine your kids' data in, and know that as the number of organizations getting this data increases over time, and the level of their outbound sharing increases over time, those scenarios become more and more likely.

Asking said...

Will SPS send Common Core test results to InBloom?

Be sure to check-out Knewton and data collection. The link is attached to the below article. Very concerning the amount of data business will have on our children. Note: Video has emblem from US Dept of Ed.


Asking said...

Dw is correct. After viewing the above video, one must be VERY concerned about your children's data going into the wrong hands.

I am especially concerned because Gates and moneyed interests are involved. Years ago, when Microsoft first began, Gates wanted a computer on every desk and people thought he was crazy. I remain very concerned about Gates and the dollars behind his initiatives.

Anonymous said...

This is a highly satisfying day for those of us sick of Corporate Reform Egos and Profiteers.

As InBloom spectacularly blows up, it puts a big black mark on Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch's Amplify initiative (a division of NewsCorp.

Klein, one of the biggest names in Corp. Ed Reform is/was a BFF of ex-NYC Mayor Bloomberg, who put him into the NYC public school's chancellor job.

Klein (ironically an old Microsoft nemesis) was hired specifically by Murdoch to ramp up Amplify. The most visible of Amplify's first initiatives? Act as the operating system for InBloom.

No doubt Klein was expected to secure New York's, and other states', student data via his national Corporate Reform connections, and funnel it to the InBloom/Amplify project.

InBloom might have been (nominally) nonprofit, but Amplify most certainly is not.

Sadly for Klein and his sizeable Amplify salary, his reputation and Murdoch's has also been sidelined by the News Corp. British phone hacking scandal. Right after Klein was hired by Amplify, Murdoch redeployed him to bail him out of the UK situation.

To see InBloom, Klein and Amplify all taking a deep dive in full view of other news outlets and skeptical parents (not to mention all the politicians who are ducking and covering from parental activist fury) is a big fat Happy 2014 Giftwrapped Education Present.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Asking, I'm going to write about Newton.

No, Washington State has its own longitudinal data system called CEDARS. Better than being in inBloom but there needs to be hard questions about that as well.

Unfortunately the inBloom defeat does not mean there might not be a backdoor way in. Ever vigilant.

Anonymous said...

Here is more information, on InBloom and the Klein etc. ties to CommonCore, along with what Melissa notes: other forms of data collection used by districts all over the US.