At a forum in White Plains on Monday night December 1, both parents and school officials again voiced their protests over the state’s decision to ship student records to the inBloom data cloud. The program is controversial and many are doubtful that there will be any academic benefit to students.
According to the Journal News, Associate State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner attended the forum in the hopes of answering people’s questions and with the goal of motivating them to comply with the program. The Journal News reported that Wagner “insisted that the state needed to analyze data to spot at-risk students and trends that might inform better decision-making.”
Wagner also told reporters that New York has already begun the arduous task of uploading records with student codes to the inBloom company. He said student names and addresses will be added at the start of the new year.
White Plains school officials said at the forum that they don’t want student records shipped to inBloom, a nonprofit company funded by the Gates Foundation. This contention is supported by a lawsuit that was filed by a dozen New York City parents in Albany on November 13 to stop the project entirely. According to the Journal News, the state assembly and senate have said that they will determine the issue when they reconvene next month after the holidays.
In the meantime, some parents and school officials at the forum considered withholding pertinent information from the data collected, such as a student’s full name. Others, like Pleasantville Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter, said “there was no educational purpose for identifying students by name and including information like school suspensions and family backgrounds,” the Journal News reported.
“A child is better protected in the criminal justice system than in this,” she reportedly said.
Educators fear that the data will unwittingly be used to track students and pre-determine a student’s potential for success. One panelist at the forum, executive director of Class Size Matters Leonie Haimson told reporters that the data can create “a negative stereotype that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.”
Eight other states besides New York are reconsidering their plan to provide data to inBloom and have even scaled back what data they are willing to provide. In the state of Illinois parents will now have the option to keep their children’s data out of the system — and the school system in the city of Chicago announced last week that no data whatsoever will be provided to the company.