Archives for category: Privacy

The surveillance state is bearing down on us, our children, our grandchildren, all of us.

Audrey Watters is watching.

There is money in this business.

Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters and co-founder of the national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy (and a member of the board of the Network for Public Education) writes here about the threat to student privacy in New York.

The New York Board of Regents is currently considering whether to approve a radical weakening of the state student privacy law, which would allow the College Board, the ACT and other companies that contract with schools or districts to administer tests to use the personal student information they collect for marketing purposes — even though the original New York law that was passed in 2014 explicitly barred the sale or commercial use of this data.

Starting in 2014, many states, including New York, approved legislation to strengthen the protection of student privacy, because of a growing realization on the part of parents that their children’s personal data was being shared by schools and districts with a wide variety of private companies and organizations without their knowledge or consent. The U.S. Department of Education had weakened the federal student privacy law known as FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) twice over the past decade, rewriting the regulations during the Bush and Obama administrations to allow for nonconsensual disclosures for different purposes.

At that time, few parents knew that federal law had been altered to allow their children’s information from being passed into private hands. Then controversy erupted over the plans of nine states and districts to share personal student data with a comprehensive databank called inBloom, developed with more than $100 million of funding from the Gates Foundation.

InBloom Inc. was designed to collect a wide variety of personal student data and share it with for-profit vendors to accelerate the development and marketing of the education technology industry to facilitate the adoption of online instruction and assessment. As a result of widespread parental activism and concerns, all nine states and districts that had originally intended to participate in the inBloom data-sharing plan pulled out, and 99 new state student privacy laws were passed across the country between 2014 and 2018.

New York was one of the first to pass a new student privacy law. In March 2014, the state legislature approved Education Laws §2-c and §2-d, which among other things, prohibited the state from sharing student data with inBloom or another comprehensive databank, and also regulated the way schools and vendors must secure student data, including imposing a complete ban on the sale of personal student information or its use for marketing purposes….

Yet to the frustration of many parents and privacy advocates, it would be nearly five years before New York State Education Department drafted any regulations to implement its 2014 student privacy law. In October 2018, the Education Department finally released proposed regulations for public comment. In March 2018, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, along with the statewide coalition New York State Allies for Public Education, submitted recommendations on how to strengthen and clarify those regulations, as did more than 240 parents and privacy advocates.

Yet after the initial period of public comment had ended, instead of strengthening the regulations, the state Education Department gutted them, and now proposed allowing student data to be used for commercial purposes as long as there was parental “consent” — a huge loophole that would create the opportunity for districts, schools and vendors to misuse this data in myriad ways.

Do you think it is okay to sell students’ personal data to marketers and vendors?

 

Leonie Haimson has watched the development of CZI’s Summit Learning, a tech-based platform. She is a leader of Student Privacy Matters and the Parents’ Coalition for Student Privacy.

Here are recommended readings:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2018/12/20/why-parents-students-are-protesting-an-online-learning-program-backed-by-mark-zuckerberg-facebook/
https://www.studentprivacymatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Summit-fact-sheet-4.22.19-1.pdf
https://dianeravitch.net/2018/11/15/nellie-bowles-in-americas-schools-the-rich-get-teachers-the-poor-get-computers/
Any questions, write info@studentprivacymatters.org

 

The U.S. Department of Education criticized Eva Moskowitz for releasing the private disciplinary record of a student whose mother repeatedly criticized the school. This comes soon after the ED awarded Success Academy $10 Million to expand.

 

Leonie Haimson, advocate for student privacy,  comments:

This press release is also posted here.

 

For immediate release: June 4, 2019

For more information contact Leonie Haimson, leoniehaimson@gmail.com; 917-435-9329.

 

 

US Department of Education finds Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy repeatedly violated a child’s privacy according to FERPA

 

On Monday, June 2, 2019, Fatima Geidi finally received a response to a FERPA complaint she filed more than three and half years ago with the US Department of Education. The Student Privacy Policy Office of the Department of Education found that her FERPA complaint against Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy charter schools was justified and that they had indeed repeatedly violated her son’s privacy rights.  The official findings letter to Ms. Moskowitz, dated May 31, 2019, is here.

 

On October 31, 2015, Ms. Geidi filed a complaint detailing how Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy charter schools, had revealed details of her son’s disciplinary records to the media and on her website.  Ms. Moskowitz made these disclosures in order to retaliate against Ms. Geidi and her son after they had appeared on the PBS News Hour to report how he had been repeatedly suspended at one of her schools.  Her original FERPA complaint is posted here.

 

Yet the US Department of Education waited more than two years to even launch an investigation into her complaint.  In the meantime, Ms. Moskowitz included many of the same exaggerated charges against Ms. Geidi’s son on several pages of her memoir, The Education of Eva Moskowitz, that was published in September 2017.   When Ms. Geidi noticed these passages in a bookstore, she filed a second FERPA complaint on December 20, 2017.

 

Last week, the US Department of Education refused to accept the weak rationalizations offered by the Success Academy legal staff about these disclosures and found that in both cases, they were flagrant violations of FERPA.

 

Yet in order to address these violations, Frank Miller, Deputy Director of the Student Privacy Policy Office, wrote that Success Academy must merely ensure that  “school officials have or will receive training on the requirements of FERPA as they relate to the issues in this complaint.”  He refrained from imposing any penalties or demanding that the offending passages be deleted from Eva Moskowitz’ book – a book  that is still for sale on Amazon and in bookstores all across the United States.

 

As Fatima Geidi said, “While I am glad that the US Department of Education agreed that Ms. Moskowitz and Success Academy repeatedly violated my child’s privacy by disclosing trumped-up details of his education records to the media, on the Success website and in her book, I am furious that they failed to fine her, or at the very least, demand that she take the offending passages out of her book. Because the Department of Education waited over two years to respond to my initial FERPA complaint,  Eva Moskowitz illegally put the same information (false by the way) about my child in a book where it may remain forever.  This is unacceptable, and I demand that the illegal passages from the book be deleted.”

 

Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, said, “Ms. Moskowitz and Success Academy have repeatedly violated FERPA in order to retaliate against parents who dare reveal how she abuses children and pushes them out of her charter schools.  These illegal disclosures happened again just last month, in the case of Lisa Vasquez and her daughter, as reported in a Chalkbeat article.  On May 9, 2019, Ms. Vasquez filed a FERPA complaint with the US Department of Education and the NY State Education Chief Privacy Officer.   Her FERPA complaint is posted on our blog, where we point to other privacy violations by Success charter schools. Simply asking for Success staff to receive privacy training  will likely prove no real deterrence to Eva Moskowitz.  Instead she and her staff will likely continue to flagrantly violate their students’ privacy with impunity in the future.” 

 

The  US Department of Education has provided more than $37 million in discretionary grants to Success Academy since 2010, including nearly $10 million awarded in April 2019.  Its officials should be required to explain why they chose not to withhold any federal funds from her schools, and worse, will allow the offending passages in Ms. Moskowitz’ book to remain in perpetuity. The unacceptable delay of more than three and a half years in responding to Ms. Geidi’s initial complaint and the lack of an meaningful response by the Department provides further evidence as to why parents should be able to sue for damages under FERPA when their children’s right to privacy has been violated.

 

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For years, the charter industry in New York has boasted about its superiority compared to public schools and claimed that there were long waiting lists of students clamoring for admission to charter schools. We now know that there never was a waiting list. The charters were given access to the names and addresses of public school students so they could bombard them with marketing materials in search of new students. Even Success Academy,  the biggest boaster of all the charters, relied on the harvesting of public school lists to recruit new students.

Tomorrow, parents in New York City will Rally to urge Mayor DeBlasio to stop the practice of sharing their children’s data with the charters.

 

Dear Diane,

We need YOU tomorrow at a very important press conference in New York City. Below is an important message from NYC Kids Pac.

___________________________________________________

Please come to a press conference this Monday at 1 PM at Tweed to demand that the Mayor stop providing charter schools access to student personal information to help them market their schools. This not only violates our children’s privacy, but by assisting charters to recruit students, this cannibalizes public schools by encouraging charters to absorb an ever-increasing amount of funding, students and space.

Please come and show your support! Don’t let the Mayor fail to act because of threats from the charter lobby – while he continues to brush aside parent voices, violate student privacy and undermine our public schools.

See press advisory with more details below; please share this message with other parents, friends and colleagues.

Hope to see you there,

Naila, Isaac, Fatima, Celia, Leonie, Eduardo, Margaret, Andy, Brooke, Karen, Shino and Tesa

What: Press conference to oppose the Mayor’s practice of sharing personal student information with charter schools

Who: NYC public school parents and parent leaders

When: Monday April 15, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Where: The steps of the Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers Street, downtown Manhattan

Why:   NYC public school parents and parent leaders demand that the Mayor cease the practice of allowing charter schools access to student personal information. In response to long-standing parent complaints, Chancellor Carranza has repeatedly promised parents in recent weeks, both publicly and privately, that this practice will be discontinued, but the Mayor has yet to make a commitment to do so and in the last few days has said no decision has yet been made.  

NYC is the only district in the country which voluntarily shares this information to help them charters expand their market share. Parents have long complained that this violates their children’s privacy, and this was the subject of a FERPA student privacy complaint to the US Department of Education in November 2017. Moreover, by allowing access to this information, the DOE has encouraged the rapid expansion of charter schools, which are now costing our public schools more than $2.1 billion per year. As a result, our public schools have less space and fewer resources to educate our neediest students.

While in the past, the DOE has suggested that public schools improve their “marketing”  to compete, they do not have the necessary funds to do so and in any case, most parents do not believe that the public schools  should be forced to divert what precious resources they have for this purpose.

Co-sponsored by NYC Kids PAC and the Education Council Consortium (ECC), made up of elected and appointed Community Education and Citywide Council members, established to address issues that affect schools and communities throughout all five boroughs.  

Thanks for all you do,

Carol Burris

Donations to NPE Action (a 501(c)(4)) are not tax deductible, but they are needed to lobby and educate the public about the issues and candidates we support.
Sent via ActionNetwork.org. To update your email address, change your name or address, or to stop receiving emails from Network for Public Education Action, please click here.

When Joel Klein was chancellor of the NYC schools in 2006, he agreed to give the charter industry access to the names and addresses of public school students at the urging of his good friend Eva Moskowitz, who wanted to give the appearance of high demand for her schools. To this day, NYC is the only city that voluntarily turns over the names and addresses of its students to charters, which are the competition. In what other realm does one competitor give his “customer” list to his competitor, who will try to poach them and their funding too? Thanks to Arthur Camins, who made this point earlier in the comments.

After years of complaints by public school parents whose mailboxes were stuffed with charter propaganda and who objected to the breach of their children’s privacy, DeBlasio told several parent leaders that he would stop this practice.

The charter association got word of what was about to happen, and it held a press conference this morning, claiming it was “unfair” to stop the practice of turning over this information to them. Apparently, DeBlasio wimped out to placate the charter industry. Shameful.

Activist Leonie Haimson wrote about this confrontation before the news broke that the mayor had been intimidated by the charter industry.

It is unacceptable that this practice has gone on as long as it has.  It is also unfortunate that neither the Mayor nor the Chancellor have made an announcement and instead the charter schools were informed first before any parents. See the information about a call from charter school supporters below reprinted in Diane’s blog.

As Shino wrote, parents and advocates have long complained about the privacy violations from DOE allowing charters to access this information for recruiting purposes; see Johanna Garcia’s FERPA complaint that she filed in Nov. 2017.

Moreover, there is not another district in the country that makes this information available to charter schools to help them divert students and funds from their public schools. 

In Chicago, after student information was disclosed to Noble charter schools without parent consent, resulting in parents receiving postcards urging them to enroll their children in their schools, this sparked a huge controversy and led to an investigation by the Inspector General.  As a result, the Chicago staffer who released the information to Noble was fired and the district apologized to parents in mailings paid for by Noble.  And this occurred in a city where the Mayor controls the schools and is charter-friendly..

Right now, Nashville school district is defying a state lawrequiring districts to make this information available to charter schools and is in court, appealing a court order.  NY State has no such law of course, and in fact its student privacy law Education 2D bars the use of student data for marketing purposes.

 

 

 

Charters in New York City are angry that the DeBlasio administration intends to stop sharing the names and addresses of public school students, which the charters need for marketing and recruitment.

The Mayor is responding to complaints by public school parents, who object to the city sharing their children’s personal information with the charters.

Wait! What happened to those long waiting lists?

The charters, which enroll about 10% of the city’s children, will have a news conference today to express their indignation.

 

CHARTER LEADERS AND PARENTS TO DENOUNCE DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN TO BLOCK CHARTERS FROM SENDING INFORMATION TO FAMILIES ABOUT SCHOOL OPTIONS

 

(NEW YORK) – Tomorrow, April 11, at 11:00 AM, New York City Charter School Center CEO James Merriman will be joined by charter leaders and parents to speak out against a proposed measure to undercut educational transparency and school choice. The Department of Education (DOE) has indicated its intent to reverse a policy that allows charter schools to utilize DOE services, through a third-party vendor called Vanguard, to send mailings to prospective parents in their neighborhoods. The policy change would fundamentally undercut charter schools’ ability to let parents know about all the education options in their neighborhood, making it harder to receive applications.

 

WHAT:            Press conference call with charter school leaders and parents speak out on changes to way charter schools inform families of their school options.

 

WHO:              James Merriman, NYC Charter School Center CEO

Arthur Samuels, Executive Director, MESA Charter School

Mitchell Flax, Founder & Head of School, Valence College Prep

Parents of charter school students

 

WHEN:            Tomorrow, April 11, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.

 

Call- in Number:  Please email Abdul Sada at asada@skdknick.com to receive call-in information.

 

China is perfecting a system of digitized observation that will track every person every day and monitor every movement they make. Citizens will get “social credit” for good behavior and preferential treatment.

There is no dark corner in which to hide.

This is frightening.

The system is supposed to be ready by 2020.

The death of privacy.

You better be good because they are always watching.

Students at the Secondary School for Journalism walked out to protest the Chan-Zuckerberg Summit depersonalized learning program, but thought Mark Zuckerberg might not have noticed. So they wrote him a letter to explain why they don’t like interacting for hours a day with a computer. They wrote and told him that they were learning little or nothing, and they complained about the collection of their personally identifiable data. They asked why Summit (and CZI) was collecting all this data without their knowledge or consent. Great points!

The article appears in EdSurge, a tech journal that is partially underwritten by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. I bet Mark and Priscilla see it.

They had tried before to address their concerns with the program, says Kelly Hernandez, one of the organizers of the protest. But no matter how many times they talked to their principal, or how many calls their parents made to the school to complain, nothing changed.

“We wanted to fight back with a walkout,” Hernandez, a 17-year-old senior, tells EdSurge, “because when we tried to voice our concerns, they just disregarded us.”

The Secondary School for Journalism is one of about 380 schools nationwide using Summit Learning, a personalized learning program that involves the use of an online instructional software, called the Summit Platform. This program grew out of Summit Public Schools, a network of 11 charter schools based in California and Washington, and soon caught the eye of Facebook, which lent engineers to help build the software. The platform was later supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Earlier this year, Summit Public Schools announced it would be spinning the program out as an independent nonprofit in the 2019-2020 school year.

This is not the first time that the Summit software has attracted questions and protests. Around this time last year, a Connecticut school suspended its use of the software just months after implementing it.

For Hernandez and her classmates, the breaking point came the week of Halloween, when students got their report cards, she says. Some weren’t showing any credit for the courses they’d taken and passed—courses that were necessary to graduate. Others had significant scheduling errors. “It was just so disorganized,” Hernandez recalls.

So she and her friend, senior Akila Robinson, began asking around to see who might participate in a walkout. A few days later, on Nov. 5, nearly 100 students left the school to protest Summit.

“We didn’t necessarily want attention,” Hernandez says, even though they got plenty from the media. “We wanted the changes we felt we needed.”

Some changes have come. The school dropped the learning program for 11th and 12th grade students, because teachers of those grades didn’t receive any professional development for Summit. It is still using it with 9th and 10th graders, which Hernandez wants to change.

She believes a lot of the problems with Summit fall on her teachers and administrators, who were not properly trained in using it. Summit Learning officials, in an email to Education Week, also attributed the problems described by the students to poor implementation and a lack of professional development for teachers.

But fundamental issues with the learning system, as well as concerns over the data Summit collects and shares about its students, must be addressed with the people behind Summit, Hernandez feels. That’s why she and Robinson drafted and sent a letter to Zuckerberg on Thursday.

Below is the full text of the email the students sent to Facebook’s chief executive. Diane Tavenner, CEO of Summit Public Schools, is also copied on the note.

[Please open the link to read the students’ letter.]

Disclosure: EdSurge has received grant support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Leonie Haimson provides a comprehensive report on the context for the Brooklyn high school protest against the Chan-Zuckerberg tech program called Summit. As she says, this is a David-Goliath situation. The students are powerful!


Last week, on November 5, about 100 students at the Secondary School of Journalism in Brooklyn walked out of their schools to protest the Summit online program. This digital instruction program, funded by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Bill Gates, forces students to spend hours staring at computers, left at sea with little human interaction or help from their teachers, all in the name of “personalized learning.”

As one of the students, Mitchel Storman, said to Sue Edelman who reported on the protest in the NY Post, “I have seen lots of students playing games instead of working….Students can easily cheat on quizzes since they can just copy and paste the question into Google.”

Zenaiah Bonsu, Kelly Hernandez and Akila Robinson credit: Helayne Seidman
Senior Akila Robinson said she couldn’t even log onto Summit for nearly two months, while other classmates can’t or won’t use it. “The whole day, all we do is sit there.” A teacher said, “It’s a lot of reading on the computer, and that’s not good for the eyes. Kids complain. Some kids refuse to do it.”

Since Norm Scott wrote about the walkout on his blog, and Sue Edelman’s reporting in the NY Post, the story has been picked up elsewhere including Fast Company and Business Insider. The online program, which originated in the Summit chain of charter schools in California, and was further developed and expanded with millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation, Facebook and nowthe Chan Zuckerberg LLC, has now invaded up to 300 or so public schools, and is collecting a huge amount of personal data from thousands of students without their knowledge or consent or that of their parents.

I have been writing and questioning Summit for the past two years, and last year, met with Diane Tavenner, asked her all sorts of questions she never responded to, and toured her flagship charter school in Redwood City. My description of this visit is here.

Since then, parents in 15 states have reached out to me in huge distress about the negative impact of this program on their children. Many report that their children, who had previously done well in school, now say that they aren’t learning, that they feel constantly stressed, are beginning to hate school and want to drop out. Some parents have told me that they are now homeschooling their kids or have decided to sell their homes and move out of the district