Category Archives: Blog

Parents and advocates speak out against appointment of John King as SUNY Chancellor

For immediate release: December 5, 2022
Contact: Lisa Rudley, nys.allies@gmail.com; 917-414-9190

 

Parents and advocates speak out against appointment of John King as SUNY Chancellor

Parents and advocates from throughout New York state criticized the appointment of John King as the Chancellor of the State University system, based upon his dismal record as NY State Education Commissioner.

Said Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt Out, “As Education Commissioner, John King was a disaster,  pushing the invalid Common Core standards and redesigning the state tests to be excessively long, with reading passages far above grade level, and full of ambiguous questions. He worked to ensure that the majority of kids would fail the state tests and be labelled not college-ready, including in many districts where nearly every student attends college and does well there.  His actions led directly to massive opposition among parents and the largest testing opt out movement in the country.  Many schools are still dealing with the destructive impact of his policies; I would be very sorry if SUNY students are faced with a similar fate.”

Lisa Rudley, the executive director of NY State Allies for Public Education, said, “SUNY Faculty and students should be forewarned! John King consistently ignored the legitimate concerns of parents and teachers regarding the policies he pursued as NY State Education Commissioner, by rewriting the standards, imposing an arduous high stakes testing regime, and basing teacher evaluation on student test scores, none of which had any research behind it and all of which undermined the quality of education in our public schools.  This led to a no-confidence vote of the state teachers union, and if the state’s parents had been able to carry out such a vote, you can be sure they would have done so as well.“

Leonie Haimson, the co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, explained, “Under John King, New York State was the worst state in the country in its failure to protect student privacy and the last state to pull out of inBloom, the hugely invasive data-collection and data-sharing corporation created with $100 million of Gates Foundation funds.  New York was the only state whose Commissioner refused to listen to the outraged cries of parents concerning the plan to share the most intimate details of their children’s educational records with inBloom, which in turn planned to share the data with other ed tech corporations to build their programs around.  New York was also the only state in which an act of the Legislature was required to prohibit this plan from going forward.  Has John King learned his lesson regarding the importance of protecting student privacy?  For the sake of SUNY students, I surely hope so.”

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Please provide your comments to the FTC on student privacy – deadline Monday 11/21/22

Right now, the Federal Trade Commission is collecting comments from the public about how their oversight of the use of personal data by commercial enterprises can be improved. As you know, many parents are rightly concerned that too many vendors that collect personal student data at the behest of schools and districts have recklessly allowed that data to breach, and/or have used it for advertising, sale, or other commercial purposes. The comment period to the FTC has been extended through this Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, and we encourage all parents to submit comments by the end of that day.

Since the pandemic, the risky use of digital programs and apps in schools has soared. Most of these programs are operated and owned by for-profit companies who have been collecting personal student data without parental consent, sufficient oversight, restrictions, and/or security protections. As a result, the number of student data breaches has exploded.

This is in part because the existing data security provisions in federal law are weak or non-existent. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, only requires “reasonable” security without the FTC having defined that term, while FERPA does not specify any security standards at all. And too many vendors are using personal data to target ads to students or their families, and/or to build new programs and services around, which are clearly commercial and not educational purposes.

We encourage you to submit your comments here; no later than this Monday at 11:59 pm. Let the FTC know that they should use all their authority to ensure that student data is safe and secure and used ONLY for educational purposes. A sample email is below, but please edit it any way you like. MOST important is for you to add any examples of when your children’s data was breached or improperly used. Please also share any such experiences with us, to aid us in our work going forward, by emailing us at info@studentprivacymatters.org

A sample email message is below. Thanks!

______

To the FTC:

I am a parent and am very concerned about how the number of student data breaches has skyrocketed in recent years, through hacking, ransomware, and other cybersecurity events. Moreover, too often school vendors are also using and abusing student data for commercial uses. I urge you to require enforceable contracts that require encryption, as well as other strong security standards for the collection, disclosure, and use of student data. Also, these contracts must prohibit vendors from accessing or using any data they do not need for the purposes of carrying out their contracted services, and the information they do collect should be deleted as soon as possible, preferably at the conclusion of each school year or at the very least, when students graduate or leave the district.

I also urge you to strongly prohibit the use of student data for any commercial purpose, including allowing vendors to sell it, to use it to target ads, and/or to use it to develop new products or services.

Yours sincerely [ add your name here].

And have a great Thanksgiving!

Leonie Haimson & Cassie Creswell, co-chairs
Parent Coalition for Student Privacy
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
info@studentprivacymatters.org
Follow @parents4privacy
Subscribe to Parent Coalition for Student Privacy newsletter at https://www.studentprivacymatters.org/join-us

Presentation at 1st Int. Congress on Democratic Digital Education and Open Edtech.

I just gave a brief presentation at the 1st International Congress on Democratic Digital Education and Open Edtech in Barcelona (remotely), on how the Parent Coalition began and how our fight continues.

We also engaged in a brief discussion about how the pandemic has undermined student learning & privacy thru the expanded use of online products – but push to privatize schooling via ed tech started before pandemic & sadly will continue long after its over.

My presentation is below.

New and emerging threats to student & teacher data privacy

On May 6, the NY Post revealed that about two million students in NY State alone may have had their privacy violated by the massive Illuminate data breach; students in CT and CO were also affected.

This is an update from reporting in  The Journal, based on FOILed records from NYSED that found at least one million students affected, across  24 school districts and 18 charter schools in New York, plus one Board of Cooperative Educational Service .

The NY State Education Dept. and the NYC DOE need to do a far better job protected personal student data and complying with the NY State Student privacy law 2D, which was passed in 2014, and to minimize the sharing of student data, ensuring strict security standards including encryption, and requiring that vendors delete it as soon as possible and at the very least when students graduate, none of which happened here.

Illuminate has reported that the hackers accessed a ” database storing some information in unencrypted format “, according to  the The Record news site, and that the data may have included student and parent names, email addresses, grades, attendance, birth dates, ID numbers, genders, race and ethnicity, languages spoken at home, Title I and disability status and more.  Data from the records of students in Colorado and Connecticut may also have breached.

Last weekend, Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and Doug Levin, Co-Founder and National Director, K12 Security Information Exchange and a national expert on student data breaches,  gave  presentations at the Network for Public Education national conference in Philadelphia, in which we discussed the Illuminate Breach and the how districts and schools can better protect the privacy of their students and teachers.

Below are the videos of the this session, separated into Part I and Part II, along with questions and comments from the audience, and their power point presentations.