Friday, October 26, 2012

Data about your children, shared without your permission?

New York State, along with Colorado, Illinois and Massachusetts, intends to provide confidential student information to a private corporation called the Shared Learning Collaborative, funded by the Gates Foundation, which in turn will make this data available to for-profit companies to develop and market their commercial learning products. 
This confidential data will include student names, addresses, test scores, grades, attendance, economic and special education status, IEPs, and disciplinary records. All this is being done without parents’ knowledge or consent, and represents a shocking violation of our children’s right to privacy.

That is how this petition signing request begins. Testing is one thing, but when confidential data begins to pass freely into the hands of for-profit testing companies (whose primary goal is increasing our reliance on their tests) that is another.

The link, then my edited version of their form letter. It allows you to delete, insert, share your own thoughts instead of theirs.

To: NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the Board of Regents

cc: Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Commissioner John B. King, Jr.; Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott; Stacey Childress and Jeff Raikes, Gates Foundation

I am opposed to the disclosure of confidential NYC student information to a private corporation called the Shared Learning Collaborative by the NYS and NYC Education Departments. This highly sensitive information, which will include students’ names, addresses, test scores, grades, attendance, economic and special education status, IEPs, and disciplinary records, will be held in a “data store” and made available to vendors, to help companies develop and market their learning products.  This unprecedented sharing of children’s confidential information is occurring without the knowledge or consent of parents.

Full disclosure: I am a teacher, so I am intimately aware of the hurried and disingenuous way agreements and evaluative measures have been pushed upon public schools by policy-makers. Public school teachers have been forced to put their reputations and careers on the line FIRST, absent valid quality assessment practices. The real-world classroom experience and knowledge of students (of all types) actual educators bring to the table has been dismissed and disrespected.

I am also a father, and I'm telling you I am a good one, and my children come first. When a governor that avoids email to reduce his own accountability; a Commissioner who demanded/threatened to get eval agreements and tried to make state tests the foundation-despite not having good tests/practices in place; a former Chancellor that went to work for a data collector; a data collector involved in partisan/sensational news (who also speaks in favor of publishing paparazzi photos of naked royalty and has been linked to phone-hacking)...when these folks are involved in the education of my children in any way-the father in me is as concerned as the educator.

The "free marketization"  of any child is wrong. The willingness of the most suspicious to force public scrutiny upon others, avoiding accountability themselves is also wrong. I would not give permission to these people to have access to information about my child. I will keep track of that information myself, and I trust their teachers.

There are huge risks involved in this violation of our children’s privacy, including potential data leaks. Until the state holds hearings to explain the purpose of sharing this data and the safeguards that will be put in place, and provides parents with the right to consent, as currently occurs with our children’s medical records, we urge you to ensure that this unethical and possibly illegal sharing of confidential data does not occur.


  1. Dan, I have been reading your blog. You are great...your Common Core post has been shared a few times on facebook. Do you post your blogs on facebook? If you do, I would love to follow you via facebook. I am
    If not, I think I can subscribe to your blog via email. I am also a public education advocate and you can follow us at

  2. I will be finding you on FB. I do sometimes post a link, I just hate to confront my friends and family with my strong opinions. That has changed recently, and I have become more willing. Thanks for the kind words!


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