Starting in 2012 and continuing to 2014, there was a grassroots rebellion against the plans of states and districts to disclose personal student data with a corporation funded by the Gates Foundation called inBloom Inc.
As of March 2014, all of the eight states or districts originally listed as inBloom’s “partners,” except for New York, had publicly or privately cancelled their plans to share data, because of protests by parents. New York was the last state to do so. On April 1, 2014, The 2014-2015 NY state budget bill was passed, with several student privacy provisions including barring the State Education Department from sharing personal data with any “Shared Learning infrastructure service provider” or “SLISP” –that is, a company designed to store the information for the purpose of providing it to a data dashboard provider.
But the controversy over inBloom kickstarted a debate on student privacy that has not yet abated. For the first time, parents were made aware of how federal privacy laws had been weakened to encourage the widespread disclosure of their children’s personal and highly sensitive information by states, districts and schools to third parties without parent knowledge or consent.
In July 2014, many of the parent activists, involved in defeating inBloom, including Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters and Rachael Stickland of Colorado, formed the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.
For more information on the privacy provisions inserted in the NY budget bill, read the blog post here. For a timeline of inBloom related events, both nationally and in NYS, check out our timeline here and inBloom newsclips here. For an overview, see below.
Created and funded by the Gates and Carnegie Foundations with $100 million, inBloom Inc. was designed to collect a maximum amount of confidential and personally identifiable student and teacher data from school districts and states throughout the country. This information — including student names, addresses, grades, test scores, economic, race, special education status, disciplinary status and more — was to be stored on a data cloud run by Amazon.com, with an operating system by Wireless/Amplify, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. InBloom Inc. planned to share this highly sensitive information with software companies and other for-profit vendors.
When it launched, InBloom Inc. announced that nine states were “partners” in its data-sharing plan. However, after protests from parents and privacy advocates, three of these states have pulled out completely (LA, CO, NC), put their their data-sharing plans on indefinite hold (MA for its one “pilot” district, Everett), make data-sharing completely voluntary on the part of districts (IL) or now say they never planned to share personal student data in the first place (KY, DE, GA). New York was the last inBloom participant to share data statewide, involving the personal information of 2.7 million students, and intended to do this without any parental notification or consent.
Because of the egregious over-reaching of the Gates Foundation and inBloom, parents throughout the country have now been awakened to the myriad threats to student privacy as a result of the weakening of FERPA, the federal legislation to protect student privacy, the wide variety of data-sharing practices that districts and states are engaged in, the P12 state longitudinal data systems required by federal law, and the huge push for data-collecting, data-sharing and data-mining, all in the name of “personalized learning.”
- Need more answers about inBloom? Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page about inBloom here.
- Check out our national and New York State-specific fact sheets on inBloom. Our most recent fact sheet can be found here.
- Look at our comparison of recent education bills addressing student data privacy for more information.
- Look over our ongoing lists of privacy-related newsclips here.
- If you’re looking for resources outside of New York State, go to our non-NY links page.
- For other relevant documents, check out our inBloom updates. And watch video from the NYC April 30th, 2013 Town Hall meeting.
- Read our inBloom, Inc timeline and for a detailed history of this issue, including our involvement.
- See Leonie Haimson’s testimony before the NYS Assembly, and a powerpoint presentation for parents and community members.
- Examine what kind of data elements inBloom, Inc intended to store. An excerpt with some of the most sensitive data can be downloaded here, as a pdf. And the longer version can be downloaded here: full data elements.
- Read Bill de Blasio’s letter before he was elected NYC Mayor to NYSED Superintendent John King and then-NYC Chancellor Dennis Walcott demanding New York to stop sharing students’ private records with corporations and to require parental consent.