Archives for category: Privacy

Laura Chapman read Andy Hargreaves’ provocative article about the educational technology we will need in the future, and she responded with this comment:

Andy Hargreaves says: “We need to create conditions for technologically enhanced learning that are universal, public and free to those who need it.”

Yes. But that is unlikely to happen in the United States, even if available elsewhere. In our market-based economy, the expression “digital learning,” should be understood as the opportunity for tech companies to learn as much as they wish about the users of their devices and software. The best we seem able to do is offer legislation that attempts to limit exploitation of data being gathered by technologies.

For example, The National Biometric Information Privacy Act, proposed by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley, is not likely to pass. The Act would require a business to secure prior written consent from individuals before the business could use any of their immutable characteristics captured by facial recognition or any other biometric systems. See https://www.biometricupdate.com/202008/broad-biometric-protections-in-senate-bill-with-slim-prospects

Also dead in the water is S. 1341 (114th Congress): Student Privacy Protection Act, introduced May 15, 2015, read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. This bill was intended to prohibit the use of federal funds for tech-based data gathering enabled by technology. Here is a small sample of the intended prohibitions:
—No federal funds for analysis of facial expressions, EEG brain wave patterns, skin conductance, galvanic skin response, heart-rate variability, pulse, blood volume, posture, and eye-tracking.
—No measures or data about psychological resources, mindsets, learning strategies, effortful control, attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, intrapersonal and interpersonal resources, or any other type of social, emotional, or psychological parameter.
—A special rule exempts data collection required by the Disabilities Education Act.
But there was more.
—No federal funds can be used for video monitoring of classrooms in the school, for any purpose, including for teacher evaluation, without the approval of the local educational agency after a public hearing and the written consent of the teacher and the parents of all students in the classroom. These restrictions apply to outside parties (e.g., researchers) as well.
—No federal funds for computing devices with remote camera surveillance software without the approval of the local educational agency after a public hearing, and for teachers or students without the written consent of the teacher and the parent of each affected student.
—Section 5 of the bill defines PII, personally identifiable information, and prohibited data-gathering that could reveal, without authorization, the identity of a student (e.g., SSNs, student numbers, biometric records), indirect identifiers (e.g., date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name). As far as I know, that bill is the only legislation that has come close to putting some brakes on rampant data-gathering enabled by ed-tech.

It is easy to suppose that edtech will thrive in the midst of our COVID-19 pandemic. Not so fast warns Mark Schneiderman, the senior director of education policy for the Software & Information Industry Association. He claims the ed tech industry is facing downsizing from the pandemic’s crunch on school budgets. He says “Communication and information sharing platforms like Google, Zoom, and SchoolMessenger are among the big ‘winners’” but thousands of software companies may be in trouble. He offers predictions about the market for edtech and repeats talking points about the importance of edtech on behalf of the profit-seekers whom is represents.

Meanwhile the Gates-funded Data Quality Campaign, the major non-profit preoccupied with data-gathering on a large scale claims that data from edtech is necessary for “student success.” It postures about student privacy issues, but this “campaign” is eager to see more data gathering on students and teachers at scale and longitudinally, including results from the Common Core and associated state tests. https://dataqualitycampaign.org/why-education-data/make-data-work-students/

The Data Quality Campaign has just released a new messaging brief with two partners known for promoting the Common Core standards and testing–the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Collaborative for Student Success. The brief tells states how they should measure “student growth” in 2021, given that most states have no 2020 statewide assessment data.”

This brief is an effort to keep statewide testing (and the Common Core) alive through messaging and marketing. The brief cites and exaggerates the importance of three “push surveys” designed to asset that teachers and parents really want so-called “growth scores.” A growth scores is a euphemism for year-to-year gains in test scores. This brief also cites and promotes SAS, the marketers of discredited value-added calculations known as EVASS (Education Value-Added Assessment System). In other words, the drumbeat for terrible policies goes on and from unelected policy shapers who use their non-profit status for lobbying.
https://dataqualitycampaign.org/news/states-can-and-should-measure-student-growth-in-2021/

It is no surprise that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the three organizations claiming credit for this brief. The Gates Foundation has sent the Data Quality Campaign $25.3 million in 15 grants and The Alliance for Excellent Education $27 million in 15 grants. The Collaborative for Student Success is described as “a multi-donor fund” investing in “messaging efforts that build support for high standards, high-quality aligned assessments, and systems of accountability that promote success for all students.” The Collaborative is funded by ExxonMobil and five major foundations, among them the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as detailed by Mercedes Schneider here. https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/gates-is-at-it-again-the-common-core-centered-collaborative-for-student-success/

This is to say that market forces are not just operating in public education but that the wealth of nonprofits is well-organized to push ed-tech.

We are not now, or in the foreseeable future likely to see anything close to “conditions for technologically enhanced learning that are universal, public and free to those who need it.”

Our national and state policies are designed to subsidize profit-seeking from education.

Nancy Flanagan writes here about why she is sticking with Facebook, despite it multiple flaws.

I was on Facebook for a brief time, then quit. Then resumed, then quit again. What I discovered was that when I quit Facebook, my identity remained there, waiting for me to return. I was reminded of King George III in “Hamilton” singing “You’ll Be Back.”

No, I won’t. It’s addictive, true. But anyone who wants to reach me knows how to get in touch. I don’t need another way to waste time. I have too many already. And I don’t want to direct a penny towards Mark Zuckerberg.

What do you think?

Will you stick with Facebook or did you quit? Or did you never sign up?

Here is a surprising combination. State officials today announced that Eva Moskowitz and her charter chain were guilty of violating the state privacy law regarding a student with special needs.

Tomorrow, Eva will participate in a panel about meeting the social and emotional needs of students.

Today:

On Thu, May 14, 2020, 10:41 AM Leonie Haimson wrote:
For immediate release: May 14, 2020
More information: Fatima Geidi, fatimageidi@gmail.com (646) 281-0449
Leonie Haimson, leoniehaimson@gmail.com; 917-435-9329

Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy found guilty of violating NY State student privacy Law

The Chief Privacy Officer of the NY State Education Department issued a ruling on Tuesday May 12 that Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy had violated Education Law 2d, the state student privacy law, that prohibits the disclosure of personal student information without parental consent except under specific conditions required to provide a student’s education.

In 2015 and thereafter, Success Academy officials published exaggerated details from the education records of Fatima Geidi’s son when he was attending Upper West Success Academy, and shared them with reporters nationwide. They did this under Eva Moskowitz’ direction to retaliate against Ms. Geidi and her son, when they were interviewed on the PBS News Hour in 2015, about his repeated suspensions and the abusive treatment he suffered at the hands of school staff from first through third grade.

Ms. Geidi filed a student privacy complaint to the State Education Department in June of last year. In response to her complaint, Success Academy attorneys made a number of claims, including that the statute of limitations had lapsed, that charter schools were not subject to Education Law 2D, and that school officials have a First Amendment right to speak out about her child’s behavior. All those claims were dismissed in the decision released yesterday by the NYSED Chief Privacy Officer, Temitope Akinyemi.

The State Education Department has now ordered Success Academy to take a number of affirmative steps, including that administrators, staff and teachers must receive annual training in data privacy, security and the federal and state laws on student privacy, that they must develop a data privacy and security policy to be submitted to the State Education Department no later than July 1, 2020, and that after that policy is approved, it must be posted on the charter school’s website and notice be provided to all officers and employees.

As Fatima Geidi said, “I am happy that my son’s rights to privacy and hopefully all students at Success Academy from now on will be protected, and that Eva Moskowitz will be forced to stop using threats of disclosure as a weapon against any parent who dares speak out about the ways in which their children have been abused by her schools. However, I am disappointed that the Chief Privacy Officer did not order Ms. Moskowitz to take out the section of her memoirs, The Education of Eva Moskowitz, that allegedly describes the behavior of my son. I plan to ask my attorney to send a letter to Harper Collins, the book’s publishers, demanding that they delete that section of the book both because it contains lies and has now been found to violate both state and federal privacy law. If they refuse, we will then go to the Attorney General’s office for relief.”

Last year, the US Department of Education also found Ms. Moskowitz and Success Academy guilty of violating FERPA, the federal student privacy law. The official FERPA findings letter to Ms. Moskowitz is here. Yet Ms. Moskowitz launched an appeal of that ruling on similar First Amendment grounds, with the help of Jay Lefkowitz of Kirkland and Ellis to represent her in the appeal. Lefkowitz is the same attorney who negotiated a reduced sentence for Jeffrey Epstein, the notorious child sex abuser, in a controversial plea deal in Palm Beach County in 2007. Though Ms. Geidi has repeatedly asked the U.S. Department of Education about the outcome of this appeal, she has heard nothing in response.

As Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, pointed out: “Fatima’s son is not the only child whose privacy has been violated by Success Academy. Last year, Success shared details from the private education files of Lisa Vasquez’ daughter with reporters from Chalkbeat without her consent, after Ms. Vasquez spoke about how her daughter had been unfairly treated at Success Academy Prospect Heights. The SUNY Charter Institute also noted unspecified violations of FERPA by SAC Cobble Hill, SAC Crown Heights, SAC Fort Greene, SAC Harlem 2, and SAC Harlem 5 during site visits, noted in their Renewal reports. The time for Eva Moskowitz to comply with the law and stop violating the privacy of innocent children whose parents dare to reveal her schools’ cruel policies has long passed.”

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As for tomorrow’s panel, here it is:

WEBINAR Tomorrow! Social & emotional supports for students during Covid19

REGISTER https://mailchi.mp/fordhaminstitute.org/webinar-may-15th-social-emotional-supports-for-students-during-covid-381810?e=87fac149e2

With the coronavirus outbreak disrupting nearly every aspect of our work and learning, educators nationwide have been scrambling to provide remote instruction to their students. But what are they and their schools doing to provide children with social and emotional supports during this tough time? And how do their strategies compare across the private, charter, and traditional public school sectors?

In partnership with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), we will hold a moderated conversation with three outstanding school leaders, all of whom are working hard to attend to their pupils’ (and staff’s) social and emotional needs, while keeping academics moving forward.

Featured Speakers

Michael J. Petrilli, President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute (moderator)

Juan Cabrera, Superintendent, El Paso ISD, Texas

Eva Moskowitz, CEO, Success Academy Schools

Kathleen Porter-Magee, Superintendent, Partnership for Inner-City Education

Schedule

1:00 p.m.: Introduction to CASEL CARES

1:05 p.m.: Introductory remarks by Michael Petrilli

1:10 p.m.: Moderator Q & A (45 minutes)*

1:55 p.m.: Closing remarks Michael Petrilli and sign off by CASEL

Unbelievable! A second-grade student in Palm Beach County hacked into the school district’s computer system.

What was that nonsense about distance learning being the wave of the future? Ha!

The Palm Beach County School District is in the midst of a massive computer security crisis that draws into question the authenticity of every assignment completed by every student since “distance learning” began, after BocaNewsNow.com learned that an elementary school student hacked the school district’s password system.

We are not revealing the password convention that is used in the school district, but the second grader’s — you are reading that correctly, the second grader’s — hacking resulted in an emergency login change for “live” morning meetings in several elementary schools last week. It did not result — yet — in a district-wide reassignment of student passwords for the School District’s “Portal” which provides access to Google Classroom.

It is unclear if teachers and administrators were aware that the second grader’s hack potentially impacted the entire 176,000 student school district.

Every Palm Beach County School District student is now utilizing “Google Classroom” during “distance learning.” The system is used for email, classroom work assignments, live communication with teachers, and tests. The hack potentially lets any student log into any other student’s Google Classroom account.

Naomi Klein coined the iconic book Shock Doctrine, about the way that the powerful elites use emergencies to expand their power because of the crisis. New Orleans was one of her prime examples of “disaster capitalism,” where the devastation of a giant hurricane created an opportunity to break the teachers union and privatize the public school system.

In this brilliant essay, published in The Intercept, Klein describes the many ways in which the plutocrats of the tech industry are turning the pandemic into a gold mine for themselves and planning a dystopian future for the rest of us.

Please read this provocative and frightening essay, which has numerous links to support her argument.

What she details is not just a threat to our privacy and our institutions but to our democracy and our freedom.

It is no coincidence, she writes, that Governor Andrew Cuomo is enlisting a team of tech billionaires to reimagine the future of the Empire State. They know exactly what they want, and it’s up to us to stop them.

She writes:

It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.

Anuja Sonalker, CEO of Steer Tech, a Maryland-based company selling self-parking technology, recently summed up the new virus-personalized pitch. “There has been a distinct warming up to human-less, contactless technology,” she said. “Humans are biohazards, machines are not.”

It’s a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctor’s offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails. Of course, for many of us, those same homes were already turning into our never-off workplaces and our primary entertainment venues before the pandemic, and surveillance incarceration “in the community” was already booming. But in the future under hasty construction, all of these trends are poised for a warp-speed acceleration.

This is a future in which, for the privileged, almost everything is home delivered, either virtually via streaming and cloud technology, or physically via driverless vehicle or drone, then screen “shared” on a mediated platform. It’s a future that employs far fewer teachers, doctors, and drivers. It accepts no cash or credit cards (under guise of virus control) and has skeletal mass transit and far less live art. It’s a future that claims to be run on “artificial intelligence” but is actually held together by tens of millions of anonymous workers tucked away in warehouses, data centers, content moderation mills, electronic sweatshops, lithium mines, industrial farms, meat-processing plants, and prisons, where they are left unprotected from disease and hyperexploition. It’s a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.

If all of this sounds familiar it’s because, pre-Covid, this precise app-driven, gig-fueled future was being sold to us in the name of convenience, frictionlessness, and personalization. But many of us had concerns. About the security, quality, and inequity of telehealth and online classrooms. About driverless cars mowing down pedestrians and drones smashing packages (and people). About location tracking and cash-free commerce obliterating our privacy and entrenching racial and gender discrimination. About unscrupulous social media platforms poisoning our information ecology and our kids’ mental health. About “smart cities” filled with sensors supplanting local government. About the good jobs these technologies wiped out. About the bad jobs they mass produced.

And most of all, we had concerns about the democracy-threatening wealth and power accumulated by a handful of tech companies that are masters of abdication — eschewing all responsibility for the wreckage left behind in the fields they now dominate, whether media, retail, or transportation.

That was the ancient past known as February. Today, a great many of those well-founded concerns are being swept away by a tidal wave of panic, and this warmed-over dystopia is going through a rush-job rebranding. Now, against a harrowing backdrop of mass death, it is being sold to us on the dubious promise that these technologies are the only possible way to pandemic-proof our lives, the indispensable keys to keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Many teachers are using the ZOOM videoconferencing tool for their online classes, but there have been numerous complaints about ZOOM classes being hacked, and intruders interfering with the class or expressing inappropriate comments.

Consequently, the New York City Department of Education is forbidding teachers from using ZOOM.

New York City has banned the video conferencing platform Zoom in city schools weeks after thousands of teachers and students began using it for remote learning.

The education department received reports of issues that impact the security and privacy of the platform during the credentialing process, according to a document shared with principals that was obtained by Chalkbeat. “Based on the DOE’s review of those documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom at this time,” the memo said.

Instead, the guidance says, schools should switch to Microsoft Teams, which the education department suggests has similar functionality and is more secure.

The change is likely to cause headaches for schools and families, as the use of Zoom became widespread after the city shuttered school buildings on March 16 and moved over a million students to remote learning a week later.

Not all schools use Zoom, though many have since the platform offers a free version and is relatively simple to set up. Last month, the city’s Panel for Educational Policy met via Zoom, a meeting that included schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and other top officials.

But the platform has also caused problems for educators and has come under fire nationally for a range of security and privacy issues.

In some cases, students have taken to “Zoombombing” online classes, essentially logging into online classes uninvited and hijacking everyone’s screens with inappropriate images or audio. “Zoombombing is no joke. I don’t think we were ready for that,” Pat Finley, a co-principal at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Queens, previously said.

Students have also sometimes flooded the platform’s chat function with inappropriate comments, disrupting virtual instruction.

Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James raised concerns about the platform, including whether third parties could secretly access users’ webcams, reports that the company shares data with Facebook, and whether the company was following state requirements about safeguarding student data.

Education Week published an insightful article about the dangers to student privacy during this time when students are relying on tech products to connect to teachers. Read it in full if you have a subscription.

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/03/26/massive-shift-to-remote-learning-prompts-big.html

Massive Shift to Remote Learning Prompts Big Data Privacy Concerns

By Mark Lieberman

Schools are confronting a wide range of potential problems around student data privacy as they scramble to put technology tools for virtual instruction in place during extended school building shutdowns.

Teachers have already begun connecting with students using a variety of digital tools, some of which are new to them and their schools and weren’t designed for classroom use—everything from videoconferencing apps like Zoom to digital devices like Chromebooks and learning platforms like Babbel and BrainPop.

An unprecedented number of online interactions between teachers and students from their respective homes introduce new privacy questions that lack easy answers. And at least one state’s governor, aiming to speed up implementation of new remote learning tools, has temporarily waived legal requirements for agreements between school districts and technology companies that typically include student data privacy provisions.

The challenges for schools in staying abreast of privacy concerns have become acute as companies have begun offering temporary free subscriptions to their expensive tech products, said Antonio Romayor Jr., chief technology officer for El Centro Elementary School District in California.

Some teachers in his district have begun bypassing the typical vetting procedures for new tech products by adding the free products directly to their single sign-on platforms for students and teachers to use, he said.

Some of those free products could eventually cost schools and parents money, which means anyone using them should be extra careful about offering credit-card information when signing up, Romayor said. Programs that aren’t vetted in advance also might run afoul of privacy policy. “It’s a constant struggle,” he said.

While the new technological landscape for schools feels unprecedented in many ways, schools still have an obligation to inform parents of how their students’ data is being used, even if the teaching is occurring outside school buildings. Federal laws—such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)—should help guide school leaders in deciding what new technologies to use.

“The rules, the regulations apply whether the student is actually in the classroom physically or is at home being taught through a distance learning framework,” said Linnette Attai, president of the for-profit education company PlayWell and a close observer of student privacy issues.

Student privacy experts are recommending that school districts take a deliberate, rather than frenetic, approach to adopting new technologies, and guard against overinvesting in new tools before being fully aware of how they work and how they could jeopardize students’ data privacy.

Cheri Kiesecker, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Data Privacy, wants parents and schools to minimize as much as possible the amount of student data that’s being collected and sold by tech companies. She felt the same before the COVID-19 outbreak.

In fact, Kiesecker points to a 2018 warning from the FBI noting that the consequences of ed-tech companies collecting too much data on students “could result in social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children.” Most U.S. states earned a “C” or lower grade from a 2019 survey of student data privacy protections by Kiesecker’s organization and the Network for Public Education.

As schools rush to put remote learning programs in places, Kiesecker argues that those student data privacy problems could get significantly worse. And that could have long-term consequences for many students. “Data is actually your identity and a form of social currency,” she said.

Audrey Watters may be our  most articulate critic of tech obsession. I enjoy her regular posts, and her ability to connect birds with events. Open this link to see what I mean. 

She begins every post with a bird and finds a way to connect it to what she is thinking about.

In this post, she begins with:

This week’s Columbidae is the Gallicolumba luzonica — the Luzon Bleeding Heart Dove. The bird, which is endemic to the island of Luzon in the Philippines, is listed as “near threatened” due to habitat loss.

This bird has something to do with the term “bleeding heart liberal.”

She briefly critiques one of the latest proclamations about technology, then links to a piece about the dangers of Ring in the home, which can be hacked. The link refers to a story that circulated widely on CNN and in other major media about a man hacking into a little girl’s bedroom where her parents had installed a Ring for her protection. Scary stuff.

The Network for Public Education is fortunate to have the leadership and energy of Marla Kilfoyle, former national director of BATS.

She has developed connections with dozens of organizations fighting to protect and improve public schools.

Read her latest report here.

The report includes a call to action to protect student privacy. The deadline for taking action is December 8. Please open the link and join thousands of allies in speaking out against unwanted invasion of student privacy.

The NPE Grassroots Education Network is a network of over 145 grassroots organizations nationwide who have joined together to preserve, promote, improve, and strengthen our public schools. If you know of a group that would like to join this powerful network, please go here to sign on. 

If you have any questions about the NPE Grassroots Education Network please contact Marla Kilfoyle, NPE Grassroots Education Network Liaison at marlakilfoyle@networkforpubliceducation.org

Notes from Marla

CALL TO ACTION FOR ALL ORGANIZATIONS!

Dear NPE Grassroots Education Network – this is a specific call to action that needs to be completed BEFORE December 8th.  The Network for Public Education is sending a letter to the FTC as part of a formal public comment process in which the Commission has asked for input about the potential change in the regulations for COPPA, the Children’s Online Protection Act, originally passed by Congress in 1998. 

 We are urging the FTC NOT to weaken this important privacy law through regulation, as the law wisely provides for parent consent before the online collection of personal data directly from children younger than 13.  Instead, the FTC appears intent on allowing schools and/or teachers to consent on the part of parents when collecting student personal data directly from children. 

 Please read our (brief) letter and if you would like to sign it on behalf of your organization, please enter your contact info and that of your organization on this google form.

 The deadline for signing onto our letter is Dec. 8, as all comments are due to be submitted to the FTC no later than Dec. 9.  You are also encouraged to add your own comments online. You can do so at this link

 For more background on this issue, you can check out the blog post and comments submitted by the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

There is also pertinent information about how you can register for the national conference of the Network for Public Education Action in Philadelphia  in 2020.

You will enjoy meeting your friends and allies there.

Registration is open for the NPE Action 6th National Conference to be held in Philadelphia, March 28-29. Seats are limited this year to 500, so DO NOT delay your registration. Go hereto register and book your hotel! Please do not delay, reserve your seat today!  

And there is much, much more from our allies across the nation:

Public Schools Week will be held from February 24th-28th. Start planning NOW by doing the following:

  • Begin to ask your Governor, state and federal lawmakers, Mayor, City Council, or Board of Education to adopt a resolution in support of Public Education. Begin to do this now. You can adopt, edit, or modify this resolution from The School Superintendents Association. If you get a resolution please send it to Marla Kilfoyle at marlakilfoyle@networkforpubliceducation.org and we will forward it along.
  • National organizations please cut a three-minute video that encourages your members to participate in Public Schools Week. Here are the instructions for the video. To see sample videos please go here.  
  • Please share and ask your members to take the pledge in support of Public Schools week. You can do that here.
  • Please consider hosting an event. Starting planning NOW and register your event here  
  • To learn more about Public Schools Week, messaging for 2020 and the #PublicSchoolProud campaign please go here and the toolkit has all kinds of amazing things you can do to support the week on social media.

Audrey Watters is one of the leading voices among those who are concerned about student privacy.

In this post, she notes the growing attention to surveillance of children but observes that some parents are purchasing devices that facilitate surveillance.

Do you want your child to be surveilled by unknown persons and corporations?