Public Advocate Bill de Blasio joined Class Size Matters in demanding the City and State Department of Education to protect student privacy. In a letter sent yesterday, de Blasio called on the City and State to restrict the access of third-party corporations to access sensitive student information, and to require the consent of parents before any sharing takes place. Through a contract, inBloom, Inc. is permitted to collect sensitive student data including names, test scores, disciplinary history, learning disabilities and academic records—and make that information available to commercial vendors. De Blasio slammed the practice, and demanded the City and State Department of Education put safeguards in place to protect students.
“I don't want my kids’ privacy bought and sold like this. What parent would, especially without their consent? We have to get protections in place to keep companies from profiting off personal information collected in our schools,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “Parents have to be consulted and respected. The DOE needs to resolve this invasion of privacy immediately.”
Read the full letter:
March 13, 2013
Hon. Jon B. King, Jr.
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234
Hon. Dennis M. Walcott
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Dear Commissioner King and Chancellor Walcott:
Last year, the New York State Education Department (“NYSED”) issued a contract with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, titled Shared Learning Collaborative, currently under the management of inBloom, which gave third party for-profit corporations access to the private records of students. I am concerned that through this contract, students’ confidential information is being allowed to be disseminated in the marketplace for the purpose of generating revenue rather than improving educational outcomes. It is also disconcerting that parents have no choice in whether their child’s private information is disseminated.
Although NYSED and participating school districts may have a legitimate educational interests and appropriate intentions in distributing student data to third-parties, families should have the assurance that NYSED and the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”) have the tools to monitor how a third-party chooses to use student data once inBloom provides them access to it. I request that NYSED and the DOE review the terms and conditions of the contract to assure that the following provisions are provided:
1) inBloom only be allowed to gather personally identifiable information from a student's education records upon receiving consent of parents;
2) There is a process of restricting the use of student data for the sole use of improving instruction only, once third-parties have access to the data;
3) There is a process of auditing third-party entities that receive student data to ensure that it is being used legitimately;
The State of New York should not uphold this contract without full confidence that the privacy of students is protected. I respectfully request your cooperation on this matter.
Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate for the City of New York