Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

December 23, 2013

CONFER: Common Core and your family's data

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Many more may gain access because inBloom openly admits – despite the expertise of its backers – that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored ... or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”

Parents across the country have raised a stink about the data mining. Beyond the security fears, many parents see their child’s school records as something that only they and their local districts can possess and only the parents should be able to decide who else sees. The thinking is that detailed school history – especially with the finer nuances included — is just as sensitive as an individual’s medical records and should be treated with the same respect.

This invasion of privacy and sharing of information across multiple sectors was not what was intended or, more accurately, it’s not what was originally portrayed to the masses. In the press releases that accompanied New York’s acquisition of the database grant in 2010, Senior Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education John King was quoted as saying, “We are building a data rich foundation for the continuous analysis and improvement of the state’s education structure.” There was no mention of federal or commercial interests and their ability to acquire the same information for their uses.

It just so happens that King is now the state education commissioner and he remains the only education head in the United States who’s still pushing ahead with a statewide data mining plan. Other states that received grants, including Georgia and Delaware, have pulled out while Massachusetts is experimenting with inBloom in just a select few districts.

Others still are watching and waiting. Educators and bureaucrats across the nation want to learn from our experience with inBloom: They want New Yorkers to work out the bugs for them; suffer the consequences of software and security flaws and lawsuits; and make the initial abandonment of families’ right to privacy.

New York is, for once, a leader — but not in a way any self-respecting parent would like.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at bobconfer@juno.com.

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