Archives for category: Privacy and Privacy Rights

Please join this free webinar on protecting your privacy and the privacy of students.

SIGN UP FOR OUR FREE JAN. 20 WEBINAR ON HOW EDUCATORS CAN BETTER PROTECT THEIR STUDENTS’ PRIVACY — AND THEIR OWN

A few weeks ago, it was reported that the personal information of 500,000 San Diego students, former students and school staff was exposed in a massive breach. At about the same time, education institutions and organizations were rated as the worst sector for cybersecurity in a 2018 report.

We invite you to join us for a short webinar on Jan. 20, with important tips on how teachers and district/school staff members can better protect their students’ privacy of and their own.

We will be offering guidance along with Marla Kilfoyle of the Badass Teachers Association from our Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy, released this fall. Educators will receive a certificate of participation. Don’t miss out! Space is limited!

When? Sunday, January 20 from 6-7 PM EST (3-4 PST). We’re saving lots of time for questions!

How? Sign up here – it’s free!

We hope to see you on the 20th.

Leonie Haimson and Rachael Stickland
Co-Chairs, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy

http://www.studentprivacymatters.org

The New York State Allies of Parents and Education issued this “action alert”:


Dear Allies,

URGENT – PLEASE TAKE ACTION and DEMAND the Board of Regents and NY State Education Department RETURN the MISGUIDED Gates Foundation Grant.

Last month, NY Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia asked the Board of Regents to approve a new $225,000 grant from the Gates Foundation for enhanced communication efforts around the standards, testing and data collection — to convince parents that State Ed is on the right track in all these areas. The Board voted 14 -2 to approve this grant, with only Regents Cashin and Ouderkirk voting no and Regent Johnson was absent.

The Gates Foundation has been behind some of the most controversial — and unsuccessful — education policies in history, including persuading states to adopt the Common Core standards, evaluate teachers based on test scores, and expand the collection and disclosure of highly personal student information as part of its $100 million dollar inBloom project. .

Luckily, New York parents and educators across the state defeated inBloom, but the state is still planning to expand its collection of student data from early childhood through college. The new standards that NYSED has developed are still developmentally inappropriate and little different from the Common Core and there is still too much emphasis on flawed high-stakes testing. Moreover, NYSED has failed to enforce the state student privacy law, passed in 2014 in the wake of the controversy over inBloom — though the legal deadline for implementation was more than four years ago. Meanwhile, NYSED’s own data system has been audited twice by the NYS Comptroller, and found to be highly insecure and vulnerable to breaches.

PLEASE CLICK HERE to TAKE ACTION and DEMAND that the Regents give back the Gates funds and instead of trying to hoodwink us into accepting State Ed’s flawed policies, include parents in authentic decision-making on all issues affecting our children, including standards, teacher evaluation, and privacy. The State Education Department should also be barred from any effort to expand student data collection until the 2014 student privacy law has been fully enforced and the SED’s own data system made secure.

Thank you,
NYSAPE.org

Susan Edelman of the New York Post reports that the NYC DOE is under investigation by federal and state officials for giving personal information about students to a marketing firm hired by charter schools.

https://nypost.com/2018/11/04/department-of-education-probed-for-pitching-charters-to-public-school-kids/

Wait! What about the long waiting lists?!

She writes:

“The city Department of Education reduces its enrollment by giving student names and addresses to a private vendor that produces mass mailings to help charter schools woo families.

“The longtime marketing practice has now come under investigation by state and federal officials after a Manhattan mom complained it violates student privacy rights.

“Each year my family receives a large number of pamphlets and flyers from charter schools, promoting and marketing their schools and urging me to apply, ” Johanna Garcia wrote to state and US officials.

“While Garcia has three kids in public schools, flyers have targeted her daughter who qualified for a gifted and talented program, she wrote, but not two other children with special needs.

“The DOE says it gives only student names, grade levels and addresses to Vanguard Direct, a bulk-mailing company, and forbids the company to share the data with anyone else.

“Charter schools — which are privately run but get taxpayer funds based on enrollment — hire Vanguard to send out hundreds of thousands of marketing materials aimed at recruiting kids.

“Major customers include charter chains Success Academy, Uncommon, KIPP, and Achievement First, said DOE spokesman Douglas Cohen. The DOE receives no payment from Vanguard, he said.

“In response to Garcia’s complaint, the New York state and US education departments said they are probing whether the marketing deal violates FERPA — a federal law which requires schools to get parent permission before releasing student information, except in limited cases.

“But Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, said the reasoning makes no sense: “School districts lose funding and space when students enroll in charters. Why would the DOE use its own employees for that purpose?”

“Garcia agreed. “Vanguard makes money. Charter schools make money. All on the backs of regular public-school students.”

“The practice began more than a decade ago under ex-Mayor Mike Bloomberg, when Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz said she needed the DOE data to market her charter schools. It has continued despite Mayor de Blasio’s less-friendly relationship with charters.

“Chancellor Richard Carranza told a town hall meeting in Harlem last week that DOE schools should better market themselves to stem the rise of charter schools, Patch.com reported.

“But charter schools say they rely on the mailings to fill seats.”

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and the BadAss Teachers Association collaborated to create this useful information.


We’re excited to let you know that today we released the Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy: A Practical Guide for Protecting Personal Data with the Badass Teachers Association (BATs).

The toolkit is a user-friendly guide to help educators make informed decisions about the use of ed tech and social media in schools to help them protect their students’ privacy and their own.

There is also a good article about the Toolkit in today’s Ed Week.

We hope you’ll download a copy and share it with the educators in your life.

Also please tune in this Saturday, October 20th at 10:50 AM Eastern on the NPE Action Facebook page for a livecast discussion from the Network for Public Education’s annual conference in Indianapolis, led by Leonie on Outsourcing the Classroom to Ed Tech & Machine-Learning: Why Parents & Teachers Should Resist, with panelists Audrey Watters and Peter Greene.

Later that day, at 2:40 pm Eastern, you’re invited to join both of us along with Marla Kilfoyle and Melissa Tomlinson of the BATS, when we will presenting our new Educator Toolkit to the public for the first time. To view the event on the BATs open Facebook page, click here.

For more information about the toolkit, please see our press release below.
Thanks!

Rachael Stickland and Leonie Haimson

Co-chairs, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy

http://www.studentprivacymatters.org

info@studentprivacymatters.org

@parents4privacy

Leonie Haimson is executive director and founder of Class Size Matters. In addition to advocating for reduced class size, Leonie is a nationally recognized defender of student privacy and has won notable battles against data mining. She is also the most effective education activist in the city of New York. I am a member of her board.

I hope you will join us on June 19 for the annual dinner to benefit Class Size Matters.

Please reserve your seat now for our Annual Skinny Award dinner on Tuesday June 19. We will be honoring four tremendous individuals who have given us the “real skinny” on NYC public schools:

Council Member Danny Dromm, Chair of the Finance Committee & former Education Chair

Norm Scott, retired teacher and
blogger/videographer extraordinaire

Fred Smith, testing expert and critic

And a surprise honoree who will be announced at the event!

Join us on June 19, 2018 at 6 PM at Casa La Femme, 140 Charles St. in Greenwich Village, for a delicious three course meal with a glass of wine and great company!

This is always one of the most joyous events of the year, where we celebrate our victories and gain strength for the challenges to come. Buy your tickets today.

Even if you can’t make it, please consider making a contribution at the above link in honor of these terrific awardees, and to support our work going forward.

Hope to see you at the Skinnies, and thanks! Leonie

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
212-529-3539

Make a tax-deductible contribution to Class Size Matters now!

 

Leonie Haimson is a model of an activist who drives city and officials crazy, as well as the billionaires who think they can drive policy with their money. She has two passions: reducing class size and student privacy. She created two groups to fight for her causes: class Size Matters and Student Privacy Matters. Leonie and her allies (the Parent Coalition for Studebt Privacy)  killed inBloom, the data mining program of students that Gates and Carnegie funded with $100 Million. (Full disclosure: I am a member of her board [Class Size Matters] and she is a member of the board of the Network for Public Education.) With meager resources, Leonie writes, testifies, organizes, blogs, and is a force to be reckoned with.

This week, she and a coalition of parents filed a lawsuit against the state and the city to demand class size reduction. 

See the lawsuit here. 

“Advocates and city parents have filed a lawsuit calling on state Education Department officials and city schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to reduce class sizes in the public schools.

“The suit filed in Albany State Supreme Court Thursday was brought by advocates with Class Size Matters, the Alliance for Quality Education and nine parents from all five New York City boroughs.

“It claims the state and city Education officials have ignored a 2007 law called the Contract for Excellence that required the city to lower class sizes.

“Class Size Matters founder Leonie Haimson said the city has instead increased class sizes, with nearly one-third of all students in classes of 30 or more children.

“It is unconscionable that the state and the city have flouted the law and are subjecting over 290,000 students to overcrowded classes of 30 students or more,” said Haimson, citing a Class Size Matters analysis of city Education Department data.”

Deborah Abramson Brooks, a parent activist and lawyer in Port Washington, New York, wrote this excellent overview of the testing movement and the backlash to it. She originally wrote it in 2014, but updated it to the present.

Brooks is a co-founder of Port Washington Advocates for Public Education; and a member of the board of New York State Allies for Public Education and the National Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

You will find this interesting and informative.

Read the entire document here.

 

The National Education Policy Center recently released by this important report:

Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/9129
NEPC Publication: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/facebook-student-privacy
Washington Post Answer Sheet: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/04/05/facebook-and-the-very-real-problem-of-keeping-student-data-private/

Contact:
Alex Molnar: (480) 797-7261, nepc.molnar@gmail.com
Faith Boninger: (480) 390-6736, fboninger@gmail.com

NEPC Resources on School Commercialism

BOULDER, CO (April 6, 2018) – In yesterday’s Washington Post Answer Sheet, Alex Molnar and Faith Boninger, Co-Directors of NEPC’s Commercialism in Education Unit, explored the invasive data mining and third-party targeting of users that is inherent in Facebook’s business model and that led NEPC to delete its Facebook account and remove Facebook from the NEPC website.

Molnar and Boninger have studied advertising directed at students in schools for three decades. For the past five years, they have tracked and reported on the evolution of digital marketing and the use of digital platforms in schools. In a series of annual reports, they have repeatedly called for statutory changes and regulations to ensure student privacy, protect data, require transparency, and ensure accountability. In their essay, they explain that the kind of data practices revealed by the Cambridge Analytica scandal are operating in schools and classrooms every day as students’ personal data are scooped up by digital platforms with little oversight or accountability.

Molnar, who is also NEPC’s Publications Director, warns, “Lack of public oversight has permitted the development of a surveillance economy in which corporations relentlessly, invisibly, and very profitably gather information and create profiles on hundreds of millions of people.” He adds that in the absence of public oversight over how digital platforms collect, store, and use data, “there is little or no clear recourse when personal data are used in ways that cause personal and social harm. This is true not only for adults, but also for students whose data are collected through their schools.”

Although Facebook is not alone in collecting data from its users, its business model and particular use of the data stand out. Facebook presents itself as dedicated to bringing people together in a radically transparent world and as serving as a new “public square” where users can express themselves freely. Boninger contrasts this image with reality, where Facebook limits and exploits the false public square it has created: “Rather than letting users engage freely in its environment, Facebook’s algorithms silo users and present them with a distorted reality that is then used by advertisers to influence and manipulate them.” “This is not a ‘mistake,’ she points out. “It is what Facebook is designed to do.”

In high schools, when school groups use Facebook as an organizing tool, students must maintain Facebook accounts in order to participate in school activities. The existence of these accounts allows Facebook to collect data about students every time they visit a page with a “like” button. It also allows Facebook to collect information about users’ friends. Via the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is using his fortune to promote the adoption of what they call “personalized learning” platforms in schools (i.e., using software to target digitally-provided lesson content based on students’ past responses) that facilitate further collection of massive amounts of educational data from children.

With respect to the Internet, it is often said that if you’re not paying for a product you are the product. That is, if the company is not making money selling a product to you, then they make money selling someone else information about you. Molnar notes, “We’re particularly concerned when this product is children, who are especially susceptible to manipulation because they are still developing. Targeted marketing, facilitated by Facebook, manipulates children and influences their developing worldviews and interests, as well as their understandings of their families, friendships, romantic relationships, environment, society, and selves. These practices are harmful to adults, and when deployed against children they are intolerable.”

Learn more about NEPC research on digital marketing and data gathering in schools at http://nepc.colorado.edu/ceru-home.

The following organizations also have resources on data gathering from children and in schools: Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

 

China has brought surveillance of its citizens to new levels, using face recognition technology. 

A woman jaywalked, thinking nothing of it. The police demanded her identity card, but she didn’t have it. They snapped her picture and promptly pulled up her identity and her personal history.

This incident was but a small indicator of China’s determination to monitor its people.

“Mao Yan’s Shenzhen is part of one of the great social experiments of mankind — the use of massive amounts of data, combined with facial recognition technology, shaming and artificial intelligence to control a population via marriage of the state and private companies. Already on the packed highways of Shanghai, honking has decreased. That’s because directional microphones coupled with high-definition cameras can identify and ticket — again, via WeChat — noisy drivers and display their names, photographs and identity card numbers on the city’s many LED boards. On some streets, if drivers stop their cars by the side of the road longer than seven minutes, high-definition cameras identify the driver and, again, issue him or her an instant ticket…

”But as Mao Yan’s story makes clear, this technology is bleeding into the rest of China, where 95 percent of the population is Han Chinese. And China’s authorities won’t be content with traffic stops. Their goal is behavioral modification on a massive scale. Chinese planners have announced their intention to tap the vast AI and surveillance infrastructure currently under construction to generate “social credit” scores for all of China’s 1.5 billion people. With a high score, traveling, securing a loan, buying a car and other benefits will be easy to come by. Run afoul of the authorities, and problems begin.
Some Chinese businessmen who are benefiting from this massive investment in data have argued that the Chinese are less concerned about privacy than people in the United States. Robin Li, the founder of Baidu, China’s version of Google, which routinely shares its data with the Chinese Communist Party, argued over the weekend that Chinese people don’t care that much about privacy. “The Chinese people are more open or less sensitive about the privacy issue,” said Li, speaking at the China Development Forum in Beijing. “If they are able to trade privacy for convenience, safety and efficiency, in a lot of cases, they are willing to do that.” Ironically, Li’s remarks were released by the Chinese magazine Caixin on the same day that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg issued an apology for releasing user data to a political consultancy.
In her article, Mao Yan didn’t seem to agree with Li’s optimistic interpretation of the campaign. “Maybe,” she wrote, “it’s intimidation to make everyone afraid.” I think she’s right. Hours after Mao Yan posted her story on China’s Internet, censors took it down.”

We should never normalize the invasion of privacy.

Thats why I left Facebook. So did Elon Musk.

The protection of privacy—some basic human dignity—should concern us all.

I deactivated my two Facebook accounts last week. I am not alone.

This happened today:

Key Takeaway: Facebook’s benefits are overwhelmed by problems inherent in its business model, its failure to safeguard personal information, and its lack of transparency and accountability.

Find Documents:
Press Release: http://nepc.info/node/9115

Contact:
Kevin Welner: (303) 492-8370, kevin.welner@colorado.edu
Alex Molnar: (480) 797-7261, nepc.molnar@gmail.com

Learn More:
NEPC Resources on School Commercialism

BOULDER, CO (March 27, 2018) – The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) will delete its Facebook account on Wednesday March 28. We have already removed social sharing via Facebook from the NEPC website and our other communication tools.

While Facebook has many benefits, we feel compelled to disassociate ourselves from the invasive data mining and the third-party targeting of users inherent in its business model. The goal of the NEPC is to provide high-quality information in support of democratic deliberation. Deceitful micro-targeted propaganda is made possible by Facebook data and undermines democracy. Our reading of the evidence and record tells us that neither Facebook nor any other opaque, unregulated, and unaccountable private entity should have control over the private data of billions of people. Whatever services are provided by the Facebook platform are overwhelmed by Facebook’s business model, its lack of transparency, its failure to safeguard the personal information of its users, and its lack of accountability.

NEPC annual reports on Schoolhouse Commercialism have highlighted the intensifying surveillance culture and other dangers to student privacy in the digital age, and Facebook has emerged as a primary culprit. It would be disingenuous for us to use Facebook to promote those reports and other NEPC work.

We don’t pretend that this was an easy step. Communication of research lies at the heart of NEPC’s mission, and social media are a big part of communications—with Facebook positioned as a dominant social media platform. Last month, NEPC’s “Schools of Opportunity” project benefited hugely from a short video that went viral on Facebook, garnering over a million views.

Yet the more we learned about Facebook’s data gathering , and in particular the Cambridge Analytica scandal , the more we couldn’t avoid the conclusion that Facebook’s benefits are far outweighed by its dangers. Facebook is designed in ways that are inherently troubling. As Facebook’s first president warned, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains .” He disclosed that Facebook was designed to create a “social validation feedback loop” that we now know does indeed alter brain chemistry by triggering dopamine hits each time a posting is liked. And marketers are taking full advantage .

Consider also this passage from a recent article in The Guardian (internal links included):

That Silicon Valley parents use the money they earn from tech to send their children to tech-free schools is no secret. But such qualms have not stopped the tech companies themselves from continuing to push their products on to other people’s children, both through partnerships with school districts and special apps for children as young as six.

In January 2018, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood sent Mark Zuckerberg a letter , signed by over 100 child advocates, educators, and experts in child development, requesting that Facebook discontinue its Messenger Kids app for children. A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to children and teens, making it likely that this new app—designed to encourage greater use of digital devices and social media among children—will undermine children’s healthy development. Facebook continues to promote Messenger Kids.

This problem is much larger than Facebook, but we cannot use that fact to justify inaction. We cannot, in good conscience, continue to lend tacit support to Facebook. NEPC has concluded that encouraging our readers to provide information that will be used by Facebook and its clients to tailor and limit information to which our readers will then be exposed contradicts our defined organizational mission, which is to support democratic deliberation about education policy.

We at NEPC encourage other education organizations to consider whether they too should delete their Facebook accounts, and we call upon policy makers to develop policies that provide strict public oversight of social media platforms.

Schools and Digital Platforms

NEPC’s own publications describe how digital platforms work through schools to pull children into the surveillance economy—an unregulated economy that these platforms have worked to construct and from which they benefit financially. “Students are offered no choice,” explains Faith Boninger, co-author with Alex Molnar of NEPC’s commercialism reports. As one student told Boninger and Molnar, “I can’t delete my Facebook account. My school activities have Facebook groups that I have to access. Maybe I can delete my account when I graduate.”

Molnar, who is NEPC’s Publications Director, warns that “students are tied to Facebook by their school-related activities, and they unwillingly and usually unwittingly provide Facebook with information that is used to limit what they are exposed to on-line and funnel them to worldviews that will reward Facebook’s clients.”

Boninger and Molnar add that their research has shown that digital platforms being promoted for school use are neither well understood by educators nor adequately regulated by existing policy and law. Says Molnar, “the kind of abuses inherent in Facebook’s business model, management structure, and lack of transparency are, without question, also occurring in schools and classrooms every day via social networks and digital platforms.”

Learn more about NEPC research on digital marketing and data gathering in schools at http://nepc.colorado.edu/ceru-home.

The following organizations also have resources on data gathering from children and in schools: Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood , Center for Digital Democracy , Electronic Frontier Foundation , Electronic Privacy Information Center , and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy .

We encourage people to distribute this announcement as widely as possible and to continue to share the work of the National Education Policy Center with others.