inBloom’s actual Dear John Letter to John White: (It’s not me, it’s you)

inBloom’s actual Dear John Letter to John White: (It’s not me, it’s you)

Sometimes life hands you stories that are simply better than any cheap fiction you can pick up from a newsstand or checkout line. Take for example this on-again-off-again “data sharing” relationship between Iwan Streicheicenberger, CEO of inBloom, (a data piracy and reselling outfit masquerading as a non-profit student-centric organization) and John White, student data pimp, (masquerading as a state Superintendent of Education.)

At first, Iwan and inBloom were avidly pursuing a relationship with John White and John White didn’t even know they existed when he first rolled into town. Before long though, over a few leisurely dinners, John was being wooed by Peter Gorman, Iwan’s Cyrano d’ Bergerac over at Wireless Generation (the authors of the inBloom database run by Iwan) the air beneath his wings, and his recharger.

If you are available for dinner on Wednesday night, I would love to take you and discuss Broad school reform and other issues but no pressure on that either. I know how precious an evening with family, time at the gym, or just a little down time can be to recharge your batteries.” (Peter Gorman/Cyrano)

“Dude—you are my recharger! Dinner it is, of course. Then let’s visit some schools Thursday. I’m really looking forward to it.” (John White)

Kind of a lame corporate pick-up line, but it seemed to work. I’m not exactly sure what the code phrase for “visit some schools” really means, but I’m thinking that might be their secret code or a reformer euphemism for doing lines of coke off of school playground swing sets. (Just a guess.)

Before long John White discovered he really like the idea of the data sharing agreement. He could trade the data of other people’s children in return for corporate favors and recharging dinners. White even decided to hook up inBloom with his other clients, interests like all the Course Choice providers written down in his little black book.

Eventually people caught onto this arrangement between John White and inBloom and White claimed in this Monroe News Star article in April 19th that he had “withdrawn” all data from inBloom out of an abundance of care for parents. Nevertheless White repeatedly refused to allow anyone to see the letter or correspondence he sent to inBloom to cancel the contract, as well as the original contract that was signed, but told parents and BESE members to just “trust him.” Numerous Freedom of Information requests were filed by retired educator and former BESE candidate Lee Barios of and Tom Aswell from Louisiana Voice, and BESE member Lottie Beebe (a first for BESE needing to file a formal request for public records that White claimed publicly existed) yet it took a filed lawsuit for White to finally produce the necessary documents a few days before the June 6th BESE meeting for John White to produce the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) and Service agreement contract between inBloom and the Louisiana Department of Education.

I saw reviewed some of this contract on my smartphone, after just a few minutes and noticed quite a few alarming details right off the back. I did my best to bring these to the attention of BESE when I was my turn to speak (for a few minutes) and left notes for others to cover in their time allocations, however it was clear I needed to review this in more detail.

After leaving the BESE meeting I did review this contract and wrote up a point by point review of nearly the entire “service contract” which was way more scary and far reaching than had been revealed until this point. I also forwarded my review to every BESE member although none responded to me about this analysis.

Some key points of my review:

  • inBloom was secretly contracted to take over numerous reports for state and federal reporting
  • InBloom can infinitely subcontract any and all work to anyone they choose without recourse or input from LDOE/customer (14.3)
  • inBloom can sell off entire contract to any other non-profit for any reason and with no input or recourse for LDOE (14.1)
  • much more data was to be contained on inBloom’s database despite the shifty assurances White made otherwise (Attachment E paragraph 2 and 3)
  • A certified letter was required to cancel the contract, and it took 90 days for that cancellation to be considered final (8.2 &14.6)
  • Insurance obtained for security breaches/violations is minimal, less than a dollar per every student that might be retained on database and is only required to be retained for “intial term” (13)
  • inBloom does not warrant usage is compliant with FERPA and that states are liable for any finding otherwise, and any/all damage done to students as a result of unauthorized usage, theft or access. (11.2)
  • The contract contained a provision to renew forever if both parties mutually agreed (8)
  • Audits must be performed at customer’s expense (14.2)

When news organizations started reporting that John White and Louisiana had pulled out of the inBloom project, inBloom immediately tweeted that these rumors were false and the coverage was incorrect.


@audreywatters Louisiana still part of inBloom community. Many inaccuracies in coverage

When they were contacted for specifics they claimed Louisiana was still a partner, just taking a “pause” in their relationship. Nevertheless many states and school districts started pulling out of the inBloom project as coverage about the dangers this posed, and parental objections gained steam and visibility in the mainstream media such as this article by Stephanie Simon from Reuters:

Numerous parents and local organizations and tea-party groups adopted this issue as one pertinent to themselves and their children. These folks started contacting not just BESE but local legislators and even their federal Senators and Representatives to register their displeasure over what was going on. Many of these groups have urged out state legislators to create and implement Louisiana’s own privacy law that would be stricter than the federal FERPA regulations that have recently been gutted by US Department of Education policy which as triggered at least one lawsuit by EPIC, a national privacy advocacy organization. However lawsuits take time, and privacy and sensitive personal information, once shared over an internet based data Cloud, will never be possible to reclaim and secure.

Unbeknownst to many of us John White secretly tried to silence his critics by slyly sending out a certified cancellation notice to inBloom (although months after he’ already claimed to have done so.) White made sure to mention he had contacted inBloom April 19th, which he asserts was a cancellation of his contract with them. However, the contract he signed does not allow a cancellation of this kind. It requires a certified letter, as I pointed out at the June BESE meeting and in my blog. This letter was only sent to select BESE members that support White and a few legislators working on possible privacy legislation, no doubt to assuage their fears, discredit his critics (like me), and to divert attention from Louisiana passing its own privacy legislation in the near future. Whatever other reasons he may have had, at least I counted this as a belated victory. You can see White’s letter below.

However what I discovered not long after this was this was actually the second letter involved. The first letter was sent to John White by inBloom cancelling their agreement first.

inBloom Inc.

3525 Piedmont Road

7 Piedmont Center

Suite 300

Atlanta, GA 30305

June 17, 2013

Dear John:

am writing, pursuant to section 8.2 of inBloom’s Services Agreement with the state of Louisiana, to formally conclude our relationship and terminate that agreement.

Yes. John White actually received a “Dear John” letter from inBloom, but they didn’t exactly let him off easy. John White claimed he never sent SSN’s to inBloom and that student data was never in danger. No so, says the CEO of inBloom in their own letter which I assume must have been sent “certified” to actually terminate their contract pursuant to section 8.2 (which they mention) and 14.6.

In ending our relationship, I want to reiterate some facts that have been the subject of discussion between us and about our work together.

As you know, the contract between inBloom and Louisiana explicitly prohibits the storage of student social security numbers (SSNs) unless there are extenuating circumstances, and an amendment of the contract is signed by both parties. We understand that you inherited Louisiana’s practice of using SSNs and that many states and districts across the nation are in similar situations and grappling with this issue now. During the course of planning for implementation in Louisiana, the inBloom team engaged in discussions with state personnel regarding how the state might transition from the use of SSNs to randomized student I.D. numbers. As we worked through this issue and to support the state¹s Course Choice program, it came to inBloom’s attention that Louisiana was nevertheless uploading student SSNs to its secure storage space on the inBloom system.

Not only did John White undeniably send SSN’s to inBloom, he did so in violation of his own agreement and own contract and after being repeatedly warned in numerous discussions not to do so. He did so, recklessly, and with a perfectly functioning alternative, Louisiana’s GUID which was developed as part of a 4 million dollar IES grant I worked on. LEDRS created a de-identified number that was supposed to be used in lieu of ever using a SSN on any report or data transmission, let alone a complete transmission to an external third party that asked not to receive it. White even lied to inBloom stating their had no alternative, when clearly that is no-where near accurate.

But maybe there was just some miscommunication?

What do you say, inBloom CEO Iwan Streichenberger?

We acknowledge that discussions were held regarding whether Louisiana could receive a waiver in accordance with the language in the contract. As you know, however, that matter was discussed and rejected, and inBloom did not issue a waiver for Louisiana. Consistent with best practices and based on our recent experiences, we have since changed our policies to prohibit even a temporary waiver, so that no SSNs are uploaded to inBloom‘s system.

Yikes. That seems to leave very little doubt as to who spoiled this relationship as well as the less than amicable situation these two terminated their data tryst. There never was and never will be a waiver.  It’s not us, John White, it’s you. Iwan ends his breakup with this last note.

I hope ongoing discussions with your stakeholders progress positively, and we remain very supportive of the work you are doing to create a strong data and technology infrastructure to support personalized learning in schools. Please let us know if we can be of any help as you work with stakeholders to build the necessary foundation. I am hopeful that the early implementers of the inBloom system will develop a broad knowledge base, which can help to inform the work in other states and districts across the country, including Louisiana

At least Iwan gives White a little hope for the future: “We weren’t the vendor for you John, but there are plenty of all vendor fish in the sea! One of them has to be right for your level of ignorance and irresponsibility.”

Here is Iwan’s full letter. Boy, nice pic Iwan.  You certainly look like you’ve moved on.

It appears the June 28th letter from John White was a face saving move after he was dumped by Iwan on the 17th.   However White wanted to make sure it was he who dumped Iwan back in April.  Very mature, White. 

I don’t think White expected both of these letters to fall into the hands of his detractors, but he did try to use them to fend off Louisiana from adopting its own privacy laws while he’s out on the prowl, looking for new relationships with vendors. One of my readers send in the following picture which I’m told was taken in front of the State Capital gardens while John White was looking to pick up some new vendors for data “relations.”

I’ve actually heard White has a few new likely candidates, namely Ed-Fi, whom he has been sending LDOE staff to districts directly to pimp out as an inBloom alternative, and a backdoor sharing agreement with the Workforce Commission to send DOE student data to another state agency for sharing with the Feds. I will have more on those developments later. However I would like to reiterate that it is imperative that Louisiana pass its own student privacy laws that supersede the federal laws; Louisiana laws that actually protect our students from out-of-state data pimps, like John White. White and his ilk will never stop trying to sell out our children for future favors, profit, or just for fun. Time and again he has proven he is lying, to reporters, parents legislators, and BESE, hiding information, and managing elected officials behind the scenes with false or misleading information. He has zero credibility on this issue (or any issue, but certainly here.)

Actual “unadulterated” letters below: (for the purists)



Let’s talk about CCSS (Common Core State Standards) and the CCSS Wars

Let’s talk about CCSS  (Common Core State Standards) and the CCSS Wars
Had to try an make this topic at least "look" a little more interesting. . .
Had to try an make this topic at least “look” a little more interesting. . .

If you are a teacher, you know what CCSS is, but for those of you who don’t let me give you a refresher from what I can recall off the top of my head. Forgive me if this is incomplete and feel free to fill in the blanks or correct me.

Some years ago

in a galaxy not so very far away

the NGA (National Governor’s Association)

with some funding from Bill Gates

and prodding by the US Department of Education

embarked on a journey

to develop a single set of “standards”

Standards that would be universal

across the 50 states

and miscellaneous territories.

This was intended to be grassroots,

educator lead process.

While the AFT (American Federation of Teachers)

lead by Randi Weingarten

has claimed to have been instrumental

in crafting these standards,

many AFT folks seem to disagree.

During the drafting process,

Corporate empires funded and usurped

much of the drafting of these standards

to institute a fierce regime

of high stakes testing

and to sell many new text books and tests

to unsuspecting districts

innocently adopting these standards

in the belief that they were doing so

for the good of “the children.”

Now that these standards have been created

and seem to be gaining Empirewide acceptance

Many groups across the political spectrum

would like to see the implementation of CCSS delayed,

in particular the attachment of high stakes testing and outcomes.

There seems to be some consensus

(although certainly not universal)

that this process was co-opted by Corporate interests,

that teachers nationwide are currently ill-prepared

to teach these standards,

and that introducing these standards midstream on students

may have discouraging or deleterious effects

(since they will not be phased in starting with lower grades

but introduced all at once,

regardless of whether students have been introduced

to much of the material they are expected to know in the higher grades.

It also seems to be widely accepted and anticipated

that there will be much testing involved

in verifying students are acquiring the skills

the CCSS lords dictate they learn.

This is where our story begins. . .


The amount of testing may be subject to some debate, but the clear intent of developing a Common Core set of standards is for comparability of student achievement across the states.  It’s probably pretty hard to compare something, without measuring anything, so I’d say it’s a fairly reasonable guess that there will be much testing involved here.  If it is a significant amount it is pretty clear it will cut into instructional time and possibly have a negative impact on student achievement.  Testing companies are very excited about promoting these standards, because all this testing will mean big bucks for them.  Some of the problems I’ve seen mentioned about the tests developed to date (in a number of articles) are:  incorrect answers, multiple correct answers for non-multiple choice tests, and corporate product placement in exam questions such as: (if Tommy drinks an 8 oz. Coca Cola, and then eats 3 Doritos flavored Tacos from Taco Bell before cleaning his hands with some Johnson & Johnson wipes, how much will Pierson earn on the backend for including these products in their testing materials?)

Could the testing be limited to something reasonable and perhaps replace existing tests? Perhaps, but based on all the companies getting into the test prep and evaluation business and looking to market massive data intensive student and teacher evaluation tools like inBloom, Ed-Fi, Amplify, Wireless Generation, and others, the expectation of many vendors and investors is that this will be a enormous money making market going forward.

Non-public schools have adopted, or are planning to adopt CCSS too. Some non-pubs are resisting, but that may be a losing battle if these standards truly become widespread, and “standard” as any tests that might be used to compare their children to public children will eventually be geared towards verifying CCSS mastery, and without being taught this material at the right times. . .  well they probably won’t compare very favorably.

For the most part I have only heard negative comments and discourse about CCSS, but admittedly this may be related to the company I keep.  🙂  Some of the criticisms I’ve seen are that the math curriculum is light on the basic memorization of multiplication tables and practice, and heavy on the use of calculators and word problems. I’ve heard the math is very confusing and complex to children who are unprepared for learning this way, and that the math, particularly at the higher grade levels is typically less rigorous than most current math standards.  I’ve heard and read that the English curriculum is light on traditional literature, like your Beowulf, Hemingway, and Shakespeare and heavy on the non-fiction technical guides and historical non-fiction, particularly in the higher grades.  In Louisiana, many teachers have reported they are currently ill-prepared for CCSS, and that they and their students will be evaluated based on CCSS tests and teacher evaluations.  From what I’ve gathered preparation for teachers varies widely by school and school district and may be dependent on local resources and independent research done by teachers.

Here are some stories that have been sent to me:

Teacher of Calculus who helped to develop the math curriculum for the State of Louisiana has seen the Common Core math at the high school level and commented that they did not understand some of the changes made to the bullets.   Teacher will never teach the common core math and has decided to retire the year that it will be implemented in their grade level.

Teacher who is the head of the math department at their non-public Louisiana high school went to a common core math workshop two weeks ago.  Teacher found it to be not so different than the curriculum used at their school, but definitely inferior.

New teacher in Louisiana who just completed a masters education – taught first grade(Elementary) and quit after their first year of teaching.  They said the math consisted of questions and that there was no way that the kids were going to learn math this way – just talking about it.

Parent of student taught (common core math pilot in 4th and 5th grade in non-public school in Louisiana.)  It was presented all year long in the form of complicated word problems requiring many different skills.  The only problem was the kids were never taught the skills necessary to work the word problems.  Lattice multiplication and partial quotient methods were taught in lieu of traditional multiplication and division methods.  There is a video of M.J. McDermott illustrating these methods which was exact method student had .  One of the word problems they remember that child struggled with in 4th grade was  “If you borrowed $250,000,000 from the bank at 4 5/8 %  interest, what would be your payment the first month?  What would be your payment the 12th month?  The next leg of the problem included making a  minimum payment of $20,000 per month making it more complicated – I can’t remember exactly how it was worded. Why would they even want kids to think that it is o.k. to borrow large sums of money? It was just bad all the way around.

Similar story this past weekend in Florida – one mom of a 3rd grader said that she could not help her son with his math – in particular their problem was with partial quotients.  They believe “elite” private schools not adopting common core.

Now I’ve heard some people claim they actually like CCSS and have implemented it successfully.  The idea behind CCSS was developing a single set of rigorous standards that would be universally applied across the United States to make test scores and progress more comparable, to make textbooks more standardized, to retool the curriculum for something more 21st century appropriate, and to properly prepare students for college and career readiness.

How is this working out for you?

When providing an example or story please provide the following information:

  • Setting (Non-public/public)
  • State
  • how long you’ve employed or implemented stats
  • grade level taught
  • subject

You may choose to provide more information than this such as your name, school name, etc, but be aware that this is a public forum and there should b e no expectation of privacy.  If you have a superintendent and/or principal particularly gung-ho on CCSS, and you post something negative, there’s a good chance that will get back to them.

Feel free to post both positive or negative information, but please maintain a civil discourse.  I know this may seem like an absurd request coming from me, but every once in a while I like to moderate a civil discussion so people can feel free to express their feelings to investigate and understand a topic more thoroughly.  I am  not a teacher, nor are many of my readers, but many of us know teachers, parents or students so this should all be of some concern to some of us on some level.  I’d like to understand, and for my readers to understand, if there is a problem or problems, or if despite the dubious way this curriculum was conceived, it might turn out to be a net plus if properly resourced, applied and addressed.

May the Fourth be with you.

Happy Independence Day!



Don’t miss the New Orleans inBloom discussion tomorrow on WBOK at 10:00am

This Monday (tomorrow) at 10:00 am (Central) tune into WBOK The New Orleans Imperative.  (July 1st, 2013)

You can listen online or by radio:

Dr. Sanders, Dr. James Taylor and Lee Barios will discuss the Louisiana connection between John White, inBloom, other data collection entities and why it is an essential part of the Common Core Standards/curriculum/high stakes testing regime.

One of many controversies at the Louisiana Department of Education is Superintendent John White’s decision to give personal student data to for-profit companies (which violate the federal student privacy policy). Over the past few months White has not been clear on what’s going on regarding this issue, on occasion he has denied that there was agreement with these companies and other times he has defended giving companies the personal student data. Last week White once again brought the idea up before at a BESE Board meeting. This decision has sparked an outcry from parents, communities members and government watchdog groups.

Lee Barrios retired teacher and former BESE Board candidate and Dr. James Taylor at Professor at Southern University will discuss the legality and problems with sharing student’s personal information with the public (particularly with the private sector).

Please join them:  This is a call in show. 504-260-9625


Just to keep everyone updated: John White has not produced the “multiple letters” he claims to have sent to inBloom terminating the contract he signed with Louisiana.  He promised to do so at the June 18th BESE meeting, and he has been reminded many, many times in many different formats, but he doesn’t even to deign to respond when cameras aren’t focused on him.  (When he does respond, its usually with a lie, but to date no one has held him accountable for any of the many lies he tells to the public and BESE – instead they commend him for doing a standup job.)

How my original “Opt Out Letter” was converted to a “form”

At the June 18th BESE meeting John White relayed that he did not recall seeing my opt-out letter and did not reply because it was something he characterized as a “form letter.”  Technically this was true.  Mine was the first letter to get sent, so it was not a form letter, however Tom Aswell at the Louisiana Voice republished it after redacting my personal info so other parents could likewise opt their children out of any data sharing using my letter as a template.  (I subsequently learned there was much swearing of my name by John White, as a result of my letter and privacy petition and campaign, but we must pick and choose our battles, right?)

A form letter type approach was adopted because Louisiana has not provided an organized method of transmitting or submitting opt-out requests and some very specific information needs to be submitted for Louisiana to identify children that are opted out, while not revealing too much information (like DOB and SSN) which could be used by identity thieves that might intercept the e-mail making the opt-out procedure as dangerous as the data sharing.

My son will be starting pre-k this year in EBR so I will be updating my opt-out request in a few weeks with his info.

Feel free to use this letter as a template for your own, or simply write your own and simply make sure to send the bolded data elements.  Since John White did not recall seeing my letter, even thought I sent it to him and most of his senior staff and legal counsel, I would recommend making sure you send it to more folks than just John White.  I asked him to provide a method by which parents could opt-out their children without this hassle, but White did not address any future plans to make this process easy in the meeting.

Feel free to send your opt outs to any or all of: (state Superintendent of Education) (Governor Jindal’s handpicked DOE handmaiden ) (DOE chief legal counsel) (Data Quality and collections director)

My name is (PARENT’S NAME) and I am a parent of children in Louisiana public schools. This is to formally inform you that you do not have my permission to share my children’s personally identifiable student information with any external agency, researcher, non-profit group, vendor or government or quasi-government agency under any circumstances (specifically, name, DOB, SSN). They are public students in the (parish/city/parochial) school system and you have not asked my permission to share their information as required by law. I am purposefully informing you that you do not have permission to share their information unless I provide appropriate parental guidance. Their/his/her name(s) is/are (STUDENT’S OR STUDENTS’ NAME[S]). If you already have, I would like you to promptly request that his/her/their information be expunged from any data set you have already shared.

Mr. White, on the basis of your e-mails it appears you are planning on sharing this data and I will hold you personally responsible for any subsequent violations. I will be recommending that other parents likewise notify you if they do not wish their information to be shared with corporations/vendors whom you have agreed to not hold liable for any security breaches or unauthorized releases (which I don’t believe you have a legal right or authority to do). Moreover, any such release of personally identifiable information without each parent’s express permission will be a direct violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and a willfully unnecessary one since you have non-personally identifiable student identifiers and have taken great pains to claim FERPA exclusions for all other releases of de-identified student data to the media, researchers, and the general public.

Please note the section in the last paragraph below. Schools may disclose, without consent, directory information. But you must notify us when doing so. You, however, do not have my consent and you are not a school. You have my absolute, unequivocal, official refusal on record.

You also do not have a legal right to require social security numbers from any student in Louisiana. I will be recommending parents and school districts to promptly stop providing them as you seem unwilling to guard this information as required by law.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.”

• Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.

• Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

• Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

o School officials with legitimate educational interest;

o Other schools to which a student is transferring;

o Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;

o Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;

o Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;

o Accrediting organizations;

o To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;

o Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and

o State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.

Excellent Letter sent to BESE by one of my readers about data sharing and inBloom

Dear BESE member, I am writing to voice my concern over the massive student data sharing scheme with InBloom and whomever else is on track to receive information on our students, and even teachers and parents.

Please understand our concerns for this unprecedented and massive information sharing by companies and individuals who may or may not have the best interests of our children in mind. When For Profit companies are given access to private and confidential information, it begins a slippery slope of loosening our rights to privacy. As has already been proven, once this information is out, as so called data, what these companies do with it is now out of our control. We have no idea what they will eventually do with it and who will later have access to it. It is your responsibility to take back control of our children’s education and private information. It seems as if our state is being sold a bill of goods at the expense of our children. For Profit companies are taking over the education of our children. These unregulated, unaccredited ,and uncredentialed “schools” and “teachers” are allowed to “teach” our children, while public schools are left with minimal funding and more regulations. Yet it is amazing that there is always money for more tests for the testing companies, and now more money for Data companies to do what they will with confidential student information.

Please hear our cries for adequate funding for public schools so that our children can receive the education they deserve with certified and credentialed teachers in accredited public schools. Many of these charter and RSD schools are allowed to segregate students, with no oversight, and dismal test scores. This is a horrible, unresearched experiment being inflicted on our most vulnerable children in the name of reform. It is time to take back our neighborhood schools from the profit barons and put the decision making back into the hands of the tax paying citizens who support our public schools.

Please stop this massive data sharing scheme and put the funding back into our public schools.

Please stop this unfair attack on our public schools and public school teachers.

Please respect the professionalism of teachers.

I am an educator, a parent, and a concerned citizen.

Privacy Advocates Take Heed!

Recently I (as well as a dozen or so student and parent activists) testified at the June 18th Louisiana BESE meeting about our concerns related to the inBloom data sharing and selling project Superintendent John White secretly entered into on behalf of all Louisiana citizens. Our spot came up 4 hours late, and without an outcry from one of our tireless privacy advocates named Debbie Sachs would have been pushed back another 3 hours or postponed to another day (when most of us would not be able to be there.)

I believe Debbie and her group arrived at 8:30 and stayed until 5 or later for their chance to speak their 2 minutes and because they knew I had to leave to pick up my children they arranged so I could speak first so we all owe Debbie and her folks a debt of gratitude.

For a quick synopsis of this meeting you can review this article courtesy of the Associated Press. Although it really fails to convey the passion and concerns of the other children and parents who testified. While they did capture some of my points from the meeting. . .

Jason France is a former Department of Education employee who worked on data collection for the agency and a parent of public school children. He said the state’s contractual arrangement with inBloom runs through 2014 unless the department sends a certified letter ending it, and he said the deal contained no opt-out clause for parents.

“The contract is still in force and that data can be sent back at any time,” he told BESE members.

White said he’ll send the certified letter to inBloom, but he said he’s sent several letters already notifying the organization that Louisiana’s data-sharing had ended.

. . .due to time constraints and the meeting format I was not able to pose questions nor respond to all the answers given.  I could probably go on for days about why this is a foolish and dangerous enterprise, but I will stick to some of what I felt were more important points.  By all means I encourage you delve into the agreements appended to the end and make your own observations.  (My classes in contract law were several decades ago, but I did my best and I don’t charge as much as lawyers 🙂 )

In an earlier post I expressed the desire to finally see the MOU, or Memorandum of Understanding between the Louisiana Department of Education and inBloom which also apparently does business under a number of other names and with a number of different partners, including Ed-Fi, Wireless Generation, SLI (Shared Learning Infrastructure), and the Shared Learning Collaborative, LLC. It’s not clear why these folks have to use so many subcontractors and go by so many different names except to make data available to all these parties and to perhaps confuse anyone trying to investigate these folks. . . In the event of a massive release of protected information, how would anyone even begin to figure out who was responsible? Speaking of responsibility, this SLI/SLC/InBloom entity accepts none, nor do they back up Superintendent White assertions that inBloom is compliant with FERPA, the federal law defining student privacy rights.

11.2 Privacy and Security Limitations. Service Provider does not warrant or represent that by using the SLI Service, Customer will be in compliance with Data Privacy and Security Laws, FERPA or any other federal or state law or regulation. Service Provider does not warrant that its electronic files containing Customer Data are not susceptible to intrusion, attack, or computer virus infection,

Of course in the event of gross negligence, contract assertions that a service provider is not responsible are sometimes found to be unenforceable. In those cases plaintiffs can seek damages from insurance or assets of the company. InBloom is seeking not only student data from Louisiana, which numbers around 7 hundred thousand students, but students across the United States and perhaps the world. The current level of insurance they have promised to retain seems woefully inadequate:

13. Insurance. Service Provider, at Service Provider’s expense, will procure and maintain during the Initial Term, a minimum $2,500,000 per occurrence/$5,000,000 aggregate limit of Professional Liability, covering technology errors and omissions, privacy liability, network security and liability, and network extortion.

Recently another Service Provider named Living Social using the same cloud technology and same cloud vendor that inBloom is using (Amazon) was hacked and fifty million users accounts were stolen, or about 1/6th of the entire population of the United States or around 17 Louisiana’s.

 (At the BESE meeting I mistakenly quoted 500,000, which was off by a factor of 100. Oops. One of the benefits of blogging is the ability to research and revise your work.)

With a similar breach inBloom or SLC would only be able to compensate each student 10 cents before exhausting the insurance they have promised to carry. This would not exactly buy a lot of credit monitoring, let alone begin to compensate anyone except maybe a lawyer or two – obviously the 5 mill is the max before any legal fees were paid to bring such a class action suit. Boy, this makes me feel safer.  How ’bout you?

If this is such a safe technology why is this all the insurance they can afford? The amount of money insurance companies charge to insure an activity is often a pretty good indication of how risky “professionals” have determined that activity to be. Sheesh, I have almost that much insurance on myself and I’m not the healthiest or youngest person on the planet. Clearly we can take this as evidence that the “industry” sees this is a very risky endeavor that is very likely to result in claims being filed.

Where will you spend you 2/3 of 10 cents (after legal fees)?

I found this next section to be interesting as well. Apparently InBloom/SLC/SLI, whatever it calls itself today, can hand off this agreement to any other non-profit entity it wants to, without input from the State.

Isn’t it nice that our children and their data are simply a tradable, transferable commodity?

Non-profits can still be quite “profitable” for those who running them. They can simply pay themselves whatever salary they feel is appropriate.

14.1 Assignment, Successors. Service Provider may freely assign this Agreement, in whole, to a not-for-profit entity that expressly assumes the Service Provider’s rights and obligations hereunder arising after the date of assignment

We are allowed to peek behind the curtain, every 6 months, so long as we foot the entire bill. Since John White has laid off most of DOE’s IT staff I wonder who he will subcontract that work out to, or if he will even bother? It’s not like he’s worried too much about such things in the past I suppose since previous audits of his lack of audits by legislative auditor Daryl Pupera clearly indicate as much.

14.2 Audit.

(a) Customer shall have the right, at Customer’s expense, to conduct independent code and network security reviews following each major release (i.e., Alpha Release, Release 1.0, etc.), and no more than once every six (6) months thereafter, upon reasonable notice to Service Provider and at reasonable times. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if Customer has reasonable cause to believe Service Provider is not in compliance with this Agreement, Customer may perform an independent code and network security review up to once every three (3) months.

Did you think your data was only going to be available to the half dozen initial vendors plus all the third party vendors inBloom expects “Customers” to subcontract with? Guess what, they can subcontract with anyone they choose for anything they choose, as much as they choose.

At the State we limited who had access to student data to direct staff, and only those that had a need. How will these guys keep track of all the folks that will have access to student data through all the complex vendor relationships they plan to engage? When recording studios can’t keep bootleg copies of music CDs hitting the internet before official release dates, and can’t track down pre-releasers, how can we really expect to keep our data safe once so many vendors and eyes have access to it?

14.3 Subcontracting. Service Provider may freely subcontract its duties and obligations under this Agreement. In the event that Service Provider subcontracts any of its duties and obligations, Service Provider agrees that: (i) the third party contractor shall execute an agreement regarding confidentiality consistent with the terms of this Agreement to the extent that such third party contractor has access to Confidential information of Customer and an agreement relating to any other obligations of such contractor as required to comply with Data Privacy and Security Laws, the Data Privacy and Security Policy and FERPA, and (ii) any such permitted subcontracting shall not release Service Provider from any of its obligations under this Agreement.

So just how long is this agreement and how binding?

8. Term and Termination.

8.1 Term. This Agreement will be effective for a term ending on December 31, 2014 (“Initial Term”). The parties may mutually agree to extend the term of this Agreement with such amendments to this Agreement as are appropriate and mutually agreed to for making available the SLI Service after the Initial Term.

This contract is in place until at least 12/31/14, but unless inBloom violated some of the contractual provisions it takes 90 days to cancel this contract, but only with written notice.

8.2 Termination.

(a) Each party will have the right to terminate this Agreement upon thirty (30) days’ prior written notice if the other party is in material breach of this Agreement and the breaching party fails to remedy such breach within thirty (30) days after notice from the other party; provided, however: (i) if the failure stated in the notice cannot be corrected within the applicable period, the non-defaulting party will not unreasonably withhold its consent to an extension of such time if corrective action is instituted by the defaulting party within the applicable period and diligently pursued until the default is corrected; and (ii) such extension shall not exceed ninety (90) days after the initial notice.

(b) Each party will have the right to terminate this Agreement for any reason upon ninety (90) days’ prior written notice.

And not just any notice. All written notices must be as follows. John White asserted he sent numerous letters to inBloom, but did not turn any over in response to multiple FOIA requests expressly asking for this letter or any other official communique.

14.6 Notice. All notices required or permitted under this Agreement will be in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by reputable overnight courier, or by hand delivery. The notice address for Service Provider is Iwan Streichenberger, Manager, 3451 Flabersham Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30305; and the notice address for Customer is John C. White, State Superintendent, Louisiana Department of Education, P.O. Box 94064, Baton Rouge, LA 70802. Any notice sent in the manner set forth above shall be deemed sufficiently given for all purposes hereunder (i) in the case of certified mail, on the third business day after deposited in the U.S. mail, and (ii) in the case of overnight courier or hand delivery, upon delivery. Either party may change its notice address by giving written notice to the other party by the means specified in this Section.

I don’t think I mentioned this before, but this is all information from a separate Service Contract.  The actual MOU is merely an attachment, not unlike your appendix, and about as useful.


This Agreement includes: Attachment A (Terms & Conditions)

Attachment B (SLI Service)

Attachment C (Support Services)

Attachment D Reserved

Attachment E (Additional Terms applicable to SEAs)

Attachment F (MOU)

Attachment G (Super Administrator(s))

There was an MOU that was defined and signed by DOE, but it was sent as an attachment to this Service Contract. Within this service contract is a section that converts the MOU, such that it is, into nothing more than a poor toilet paper substitute.

14.8 Entire Agreement; Amendments; Memorandum of Understanding.

(a) This Agreement, together with the attachments hereto, constitutes the entire agreement between Service Provider and Customer with respect to the subject matter hereof. There are no restrictions, promises, warranties, covenants, or undertakings other than those expressly set forth herein and therein. Except as provided in Section 14.8(b), this Agreement supersedes all prior negotiations, agreements, and undertakings between the parties with respect to such matter. This Agreement, including the exhibits hereto, may be amended only by an instrument in writing executed by the parties or their permitted assignees. (b) If Customer is a School District, the MOU is attached for reference purposes only. If Customer is the State Educational Agency that is party to the MOU, Customer and Service Provider agree that: (i) notwithstanding Section B.6 of the MOU to the contrary, the term of the MOU shall survive execution of this Agreement and expire on December 31, 2014; and (ii) the terms of this Agreement, together with its other attachments, shall prevail over any conflicting terms contained in the MOU, including but not limited to MOU Paragraphs B.2.c (Privacy and Security), B.3.d (Test Data), B.3.e (Notice), B.3.f (SLI Implementation), B.6 (Term), and B.7 (Confidentiality and Publicity), and MOU Exhibit C (Data Privacy and Security Plan).

I have provided a copy of this agreement in full, as well as the toilet paper substitute, at the bottom of this post. There is more here you need to be aware of that alarmed me when I saw it and feel I would be remiss if I did not point this out in this post. However before I get there, let’s examine some more of John White’s claims. When John White made the claim he had requested that inBloom “destroy” our data, he merely exercised the following section of the agreement. He did not terminate the agreement as he has tried to imply, and any assertion to the contrary is completely disingenuous, and actually contractually impossible – such is the agreement he signed us onto.

10.4 No License; Destruction of Customer’s Confidential Information.

(a) Nothing in this Section shall be construed as a grant or assignment of any right or license in the Disclosing Party’s Confidential Information. The Disclosing Party’s Confidential Information shall at all times remain the property of the Disclosing Party. (b) At any time Customer reasonably requests, and in any event when Customer determines that the Confidential Information of Customer is no longer needed to obtain SLI Service, or upon the termination or expiration of this Agreement, Service Provider shall promptly destroy the Customer’s Confidential Information in Service Provider’s possession; provided that (i) if Customer is a School District, Customer may request or approve that Confidential Information of Customer not be destroyed and be made available to Customer’s State Educational Agency for its use in performing their functions for evaluating and overseeing compliance in federal and state-supported educational programs in accordance with Section 444(b)(3)&(5) of FERPA and State Data Privacy and Security Laws, and (ii) at Customer’s request, Customer shall be provided up to thirty (30) business days, according to Customer’s request, to export Confidential Information of Customer prior to its destruction.

(c) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Section 10.4 to the contrary, during Alpha Release, Service Provider may delete Customer Data without notice.

At April’s BESE meeting, John White attempted to characterize his relationship with inBloom and other similar providers was a partnership, a collaboration, and not subject to the needs of an MOU. This was notwithstanding the fact that he had already signed an MOU as well as actual Contractual Service Agreement with his partner. It took him almost 6 months to finally produce this document and the Service Contract and based on even the most cursory review of the contract you can easily see why he was trying so hard to conceal this relationship. However I found this next passage particularly funny. (By funny, I mean in that infuriating way when you find your children sitting in the middle of a pile of a broken “something” playing with the broken pieces, all the while claiming someone else broke it or they simply “found” it that way.)

14.7 Independent Contractor. Service Provider is acting as an independent contractor in its capacity under this Agreement. Nothing contained in this Agreement or in the relationship of the Customer and Service Provider shall be deemed to constitute a partnership, joint venture, or any other relationship between the Customer and Service Provider except as is limited by the terms of this Agreement.

Keep in mind John White was claiming this was merely a partnership, months after he signed this contract and after dozens and dozens of e-mails and other internal correspondence – up to and including the submission of all of our student data to inBloom. So either White is ridiculously forgetful, (We’re talking “50 First Dates” with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler forgetful) and should not be signing contracts and instead living in an assisted living facility, or he is shamelessly lying in the most egregious ways possible, on camera and in print, to BESE, his theoretical bosses, and all of us.

But now that that is out of the way, take a look at this.


Additional Terms Applicable to SEAs

A State Educational Agency that participates by accessing the SLI Service in accordance with this Agreement and discloses Personally Identifiable Information derived from student records to the SLI to assist it in performing evaluation and compliance activities related to federal- and state-supported education programs is subject to the following additional terms:

1. The State Educational Agency hereby designates the Service Provider (and its contractors that perform services to carry out this purpose) as its authorized representative to assist it in carrying out evaluation and compliance activities related to federal- and state-supported education programs.

2. The State Educational Agency will disclose Personally Identifiable Information to the SLI Service from source systems maintained by the Louisiana Department of Education and its authorized representatives including (i) student demographic, enrollment, program service, and assessment data; and (ii) educator assignment, certification, performance, and other related data. The State Educational Agency will only disclose SEA Data: (i) when the SEA is the authoritative source of data needed for applications that Schools, Districts, or Parents have elected to utilize; (ii) when utilization of SEA Data will avoid or limit redundant data entry or verification on behalf of School District Customers; or (iii) when necessary to support an evaluation or compliance activity by an authorized representative of the State Educational Agency related to federal- and state-supported education programs.

3. The State Educational Agency intends for the SLI Service to serve as a technology platform to support its overall evaluation and compliance activities. SEA Data maintained within the SLI Service may be utilized to support state evaluation or compliance activities to the fullest extent permitted by state and federal law.

Despite John White’s contentions to the contrary that only basic student demographic data was to be stored, this contract makes it quite clear we were sending enrollment, program, assessment info, teacher info including certifications and “other related data” which disturbed me when I located what some of this other data was. The other interesting section here is that John White appears to be relying on inBloom to start submitting all federally required data, and to produce all necessary state reports. This was intended to be the final privatization piece of the LDE IT puzzle, but we have no idea what the cost for all that would be. I have no doubt one way to defray some of those costs would have been to allow this student and teacher data to be used for marketing purposes. This “cost recapture” strategy has actually been mentioned by inBloom as a way to reduce costs for services. However once we have signed on with inBloom for all our state and federal reporting, any guesses as to which direction those costs will go?

Hold onto your checkbooks folks, it’s gonna’ be an expensive ride, White’s signed us up for.  And by the looks of this next section, it looks like we’ll be riding naked.

3.0 Data Domains. The Company intends the following with respect to data domains and is working with its vendors to incorporate these features and functions into the SLI consistent with the terms of the vendor agreements:

a. The SLI Model defines a total of 250 types or entities. The domain types contain over 400 granular data elements and the flexibility to add more as needs evolve. However, these are captured in 39 high-level “Domain Types:”

The MOU did reveal something more “informational” as the Service Contract described it. This company also intends to capture information on parents and teachers. We’ve already seen how teachers were treated when high-stakes testing was introduced. If their students did not improve, they were held accountable and subject to sanctions and termination. Some states like Tennessee have already started punishing parents by taking them off foodstamp rolls, and many states, including Louisiana, fine or jail parents when their children are truant. While I am not suggesting truancy is a good thing, or something to be encouraged, I can easily see a scenario after the Reformers realize making teacher scapegoats for all the ills of our society has failed, their next logical target to focus their ire and blame on will be parents. This database, and databases like it, will be how that new lynch movement starts. Because many of these folks refuse to factor in the effects of poverty and disabilities, any guesses who these punishments will disproportionately fall upon?

Tell BESE and John White to shut this down. John White promised to send me copies of the letters he theoretically sent to inBloom cancelling this agreement Tuesday the 18th, as well as confirmation as to whether or not he honored my opt-out request for my children. It is now the 22nd and I still have not received a response. Perhaps some of you could remind him for me?

Service Contract with inBloom/SLC/SLI: SLI SaaS

MOU: SLI MOU (2)  I wonder what happened to MOU 1?  I wonder what that one looked like. . .



BESE Contact and video info courtesy of Geauxteacher:,,,,,,,,,,

Go for it. You can find more info on BESE and meetings and view the video archives of meetings at the Louisiana Dept of Ed website.  Little difficult to negotiate after the TFA child wonders redesigned it.

inBloom, Ed-Fi, Cloud Computing, China, Nazi-Germany and the new Eugenicists

inBloom, Ed-Fi, Cloud Computing, China, Nazi-Germany and the new Eugenicists

Believe it or not, these concepts and words are all related. inBloom and Ed-Fi are two vendors that use cloud computer to store massive quantities of student data (the Louisiana is currently doing business with.) The information these vendors plan on storing will be used to classify, sort and allocate children by their skills and early proficiencies, much as they do in Communist China. It’s no coincidence that many education reformers point to China as an example of education success and something to emulated, not shunned despite what many Chinese themselves thinkEugenicists advocated the conscious elimination of “inferior” human being from the gene pool and promotion of the superior specimens. Eugenics is generally considered a discredited and bankrupt philosophy and social movement, pioneered by a cousin of Charles Darwin – seeking to apply his relative’s research in what he considered a productive manner, but which most of us would consider abhorrent and unconscionable, except when dressed up in a pretty package or advocated as a social need such as is occurring in China. Perhaps one of the most infamous eugenics campaigns was undertaken by Adolph Hitler. Hitler undertook perhaps the largest eugenics campaign in the history of mankind. Hitler had plans and delusions of creating master Aryan “super-race”

Those humans were targeted who were identified as “life unworthy of life” (German: Lebensunwertes Leben), including but not limited to the criminal, degenerate, dissident, feeble-minded, homosexual, idle, insane, and the weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity. More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will, while 70,000 were killed under Action T4, a “euthanasia” program.

Hitler also actively engaged in genocides, tracking down and exterminating millions of Jews, Gypsies, Russians, Poles and Ukrainians or anyone else who disagreed with him. However eugenics campaigns were not limited to countries like Nazi Germany.  The inspiration for Germany’s heinous program actually started here and was sponsored by a philanthropic organization, just as the Education Reform movement is sponsored today.

After the eugenics movement was well established in the United States, it was spread to Germany. California eugenicists began producing literature promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German scientists and medical professionals. By 1933, California had subjected more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined. The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired by California’s.

The Rockefeller Foundation helped develop and fund various German eugenics programs, including the one that Josef Mengele [perhaps the closest thing to Satan in human form ever to walk the earth] worked in before he went to Auschwitz.

Upon returning from Germany in 1934, where more than 5,000 people per month were being forcibly sterilized, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe bragged to a colleague:

“You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.”

Eugenics researcher Harry H. Laughlin often bragged that his Model Eugenic Sterilization laws had been implemented in the 1935 Nuremberg racial hygiene laws. In 1936, Laughlin was invited to an award ceremony at Heidelberg University in Germany (scheduled on the anniversary of Hitler’s 1934 purge of Jews from the Heidelberg faculty), to receive an honorary doctorate for his work on the “science of racial cleansing”. Due to financial limitations, Laughlin was unable to attend the ceremony and had to pick it up from the Rockefeller Institute. Afterwards, he proudly shared the award with his colleagues, remarking that he felt that it symbolized the “common understanding of German and American scientists of the nature of eugenics.”

Even today, China is one of the few countries with both an explicit and implicit eugenics policy. The explicit “One Child” policy has exceptions that can be purchased or granted based on political connections or, individuals can ignore the policy if they have the wherewithal to pay the fines. The implicit policy involves testing children for sex (male children are more desirable leading to numerous female baby abortions) or aborting children for deficiencies and in many cases forced abortions.  Is it any coincidence China is often cited as prime example of what our education policies and programs should look like?  China classifies students as either college bound or menial labor bound from an early age using assessment data that determines which path is most suitable for a child.  This path ultimately determine how far in society a child will be able to progress, how often they will be allowed to procreate, how much education they will be allowed to receive.  This is the “Reformer” vision of the future of US education.

Current US law has outlawed the use of genetic testing for placement of employees, pricing of insurance, or admissions to primary schools or colleges. However test scores, and background checks have long been used and upheld as a way to discriminate against employees and enrollees. High test scores and grades can even be used to give discounts on auto-insurance and prior to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 (more commonly known as Obamacare), insurers could discriminate and price products based on pre-existing conditions, age, gender, etc. Life insurance products are currently priced based on general health, blood pressure, medical history, whether a person is or has ever been a smoker, gender, age, etc.  For the time being, instead of using children’s actual DNA, which would be costly to store, evaluate and classify, the government is seeking to collect student’s educational DNA.  This ed-DNA will be used to start classifying students based on what computers and researchers believe are children’s potential.  It will be linked to income tax returns to see how much money children make, criminal databases to see how often they tangle with the law, doctor’s records to examine how often they avail themselves of health services and what types of diseases and conditions they develop.  With the recent decision of the Supreme Court that ruled DNA information is not patentable, expect bazillions of fly-by-night genetics testing providers to spring up offering discount rates on gene testing and storage.  This will initially be a boon for patients, but also for future government eugenics programs, and embryonic screening of children for desirable traits and exclusion and abortion of children with less desirable ones. (For an interesting window into the possible future of this type of genetic screening and profiling of children based mathematical projections and expectations I’d recommend watching the movie Gattaca.  We’re not as far removed from this future as you might think and this inBloom database LDOE is pushing is a necessary first step towards this future.)

Today instead of the Rockefeller Foundation funding eugenics programs with have the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation funding inBloom, a database that can be used to capture information on potential test subjects. We have Pearson conducting field tests on millions of children without their parents’ permission or knowledge. We have Michael and Susan Dell running a rival database called Ed-Fi that operates identically now, to the way inBloom is trying to operate in the future. We have the Walton family, heirs to the Wal-Mart fortunes, funding a pared down pauper’s education to the masses, so they are easier to control and convert into future Wal-Mart employees and customers. The Koch brothers have influence over PBS (the Public Broadcasting System) which in theory is a media watchdog that only theoretically keeps watch over our liberties and infringement upon the same. All other media sources are beholden and censored by corporate and government interests, save independent bloggers who are now under siege by these government and corporate interests seeking to silence us so you only get a single “sponsored” narrative.

Gun control opponents fight tooth and nail against the regulation of firearms sales, and electronic documentation of gun ownership, for fear of what the government can do with such a list and such information. Unbeknownst to them, the State (their states and the United States) are sponsoring a much more insidious data collection that will start with their children and follow them throughout their life. A federal database, called EDEN, is the first step toward knowing everything about you, forever. Currently EDEN does not collect personally identifiable information, but The US Department of Education is pushing national database collections SDLCs like inBloom and Ed-Fi because they will be able to quietly change a few policies and suck in all their information these providers collect. FERPA, the Familiy Educational Right Privacy Act, specifically exempts federal agencies from having to comply with it. Federal agencies that can request information at any time without parental notification or consent: 

 to authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the U.S. Secretary of Education, and State and local educational authorities for audit or evaluation of Federal or State supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs;

The Federal government will be able to tie this information into the all the other databases they use to keep tabs on you at all times. As recent leaks about PRISM by Edward Snowden reveal, the NSA (National Security Administration) gathers everything on you that search engines like Google possess, anything you post on Facebook, anything you do with your cellphone and anything you save on your cellphone. Google actually physically drives their Google-mobiles through everyone’s neighborhood photographing your actual houses, sucking up your local network names, your cars’ license plates, and any signal they can. This information gets included in Google maps, but also gets tied to a profile of you. From census information you are required to report every 10 years, the government gets more. Google was recently fined for their privacy invasion tactics to the tune of just 7 million dollars, or less than 1/3rd of a day’s profits. (My guess is this is because the Federal Government wants this data, perhaps even requested Google compile this data, but needed to issue a token enforcement in response to the public outcry.)

While I think we were all impressed with how quickly the Boston bombers were identified and brought to justice, on some level most of you probably had a slightly queasy feeling. The amount of technology brought to bear, the speed with which that data was analyzed and actual pictures isolated and released, the subsequent identification of these bombers through a convenience store camera, the infrared heat signal tracking . . . it was all a bit spooky to me. Not long after there was the strange lethal shooting of the unarmed interview subject related to this case by the FBI, in the presence of 6 FBI agents, including what may be once in the back of the head.

So in addition to the criminal types and unscrupulous corporations that will have access to your children’s data as I covered here, you will have to worry about the Federal government getting a hold of your data and using for whatever suits their fancy. But let’s get to the meat of this initial matter, the handing over of student data to external data storage providers using Cloud Computing.

Here are some of the key things to keep in mind when your DOE comes knocking with a proposal to use a cloud storage provider like inBloom or Ed-fi for handling all your data storage and dissemination needs.

  • Most IT pros do not trust cloud services with sensitive data. (There’s a reason banks don’t conduct financial transactions using cloud computing and the military doesn’t store top secret weapons designs on something called CloudNuke.)

    Some 86% of those polled by Lieberman Software said they do not trust the cloud for their organization’s more sensitive data, and 88% said that they believe that there is a chance that the data their organization keeps in the cloud could be lost, corrupted or accessed by unauthorized individuals.

  • Clouds consolidate data, making it easier for criminals and governments to access this data, especially secretly. Vendors have a vested interest it concealing whether your data has been compromised, and as recent and historical events have shown, even the US government spies on its own citizens and allied nations.
  • Clouds make your data a bigger, tastier target, in much the same way shopping malls attract patrons, gold rushes attract miners, and dung attracts flies.
  • Storing data on inBloom and Ed-Fi Clouds adds an addition level of risk. These vendors are not suggesting they will replace your internal data systems, they are “in addition to” your existing systems. Sharing student data on Clouds is like passing out your spare house key to everyone on the block, including ones you don’t know well or at all, instead of just a single well known neighbor – in case of an emergency.
  • Storage of student data is expected to cost 5 dollars per student, but could be more. With 700,000 current students in Louisiana that comes to 3.5 million dollars per year. If this figure includes all students that total surges to 15 million dollars per year, or roughly the cost of this year’s entire Voucher private school expansion that was recently ruled unconstitutional to fund from the public school MFP formula by Louisiana’s Supreme Court.
  • LDOE has not proposed any specific use for this data, or this 15 million dollar annual expenditure. Wouldn’t this money be better spent on students, pre-k education programs, teaching supplies, professional development, anything else?
  • FERPA was weakened by USED to allow vendors to use data for non-educational purposes. Just as your iPhone terms and conditions change almost daily, so could the terms and conditions under which these vendors operate. They claim they will not share this data initially, but they also indicate they will provide discounts to states that provide date to third party vendors from whom inBloom will “recapture costs.”

    “As a non-profit organization, inBloom is exploring cost recovery partnerships with select vendors, which are contracted by states and districts, for the services that it provides. These recovered costs will ultimately be passed on to participating districts through lower annual fees.”

    (This is fancy schmancy talk for selling your data but instead of money changing hands they will give “discounts” in much the same way sleazy car salesmen and fly-by-night furniture sellers mark up their prices before offering 30-50% discounts on everything in their store!)

But don’t take my word this.  Ask LDOE and BESE at tomorrow’s BESE meeting (June 18th), about what they feel it is necessary to spend upwards of 15 million dollars to endanger your children’s futures and allow the federal government, hackers and pedophiles easy access to your children’s private information and future.  They will tell you to make things easier for school districts to work with 3rd party vendors, they will tell you to take advantage of teacher dashboards not teachers unaffiliated with this administration are asking for, they will tell you this is to take a step into the future.


But I ask you, is this a future you want for yourself or your children and grandchildren?


Where we are nothing more than what our DNA and data says we are?