This is the third and last installment on the challenges that face Chicago Public Schools.
Chicago Public Schools, much like the city, face the twinned goal of financial stability, an expanded budget, plus meeting educational goals paramount to their mission - the education of the city’s youth.
But, recently an organization of concerned parents and advocates are fighting a new battle – that of unauthorized student data being released to third party vendors whose goals remain unclear.
According to the press release: The program in question, the Illinois Shared Learning Environment (ISLE), may collect up to 400 “data points” about each student, information that may potentially be shared with for-profit companies. The state school board already has contracted with inBloom to facilitate ISLE across Illinois.”
In a time where identity theft is an ever-increasing reality, the thought of thousands of Illinois srtudent data being used without safeguards suggests that student privacy is not a concern of school administrators, or educators.
Collen K. Connell, executive dire tor of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said, “Rather than rush into any agreement, we would urge school officials to engage a public discussion that includes parents, students and advocates concerned with student privacy.”
The move would be a significant departure from previous policies that noted that student records could not be shared “outside of school agencies without parents’ permission.
Adding fuel to the fire is that the company InBloom, was created by the now discredited Rupert Murdoch who now faces charges in the U.K or illegal wiretapping whose publication, News of the World, became infamous for listening to the voice mails of Britain’s citizens, from the humble to even those of the Royal Family.
Opposition in Louisiana, where parents were outraged that their children’s social security numbers were uploaded to InBloom, was fierce, and subsequently school officials were forced to remove them from the database, in response to parental anger.
Silence in Illinois, among both school and public officials, has been the response; emails and phone calls were not returned, by press time, from the office of Chicago Public Schools CEO, Barbara Boyd-Bennett, and that of Lt. Governor Sheila Simon.
Author note: I received an email from Adam Gabe, spokesperson from InBloom denying any connection with Rupert Murdoch companies, and attempted to contact MTAS to verify the accuracy of their information but in the absence of a direct contact, was unable to do so. Also, their press release has been amended to state the following: "This concern is heightened by the accusations of wiretapping and phone hacking against Rupert Murdoch; Wireless Generation, which designed the operating system for InBloom, is a subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp." This is an obvious departure from the original wording which read, "This concern is heightened by the accusations of wiretapping and phone hacking against Rupert Murdoch, whose company built InBloom."
Gaber noted upon my query if there was ANY connection, at all, said this: "No, aside from our temporary use of amplify, that is as far as the connection has even been." - DG
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