The astonishing, unexpected beauty of the announcement – ‘inBloom has closed its doors, folded up its tents – and gone!’ See the full article from Edweek.org: http://bit.ly/1tET8H3
Here’s an excerpt from the statement by inBloom Chief Executive Officer, Iwan Streichenberger.
“The use of technology to tailor instruction for individual students is still an emerging concept and inBloom provides a technical solution that has never been seen before. . . . . .
We stepped up to the occasion and supported our partners with passion, but we have realized that this concept is still new, and building public acceptance for the solution will require more time and resources than anyone could have anticipated. Therefore, in full alignment with the inBloom Board of Directors and funders, I have made the decision to wind down the organization over the coming months.”
www.inbloom.org/ Take a look at the ‘GitHub’ link for the scope of their project.
As if we needed more evidence of the fact that it was always about the money, the access to an unlimited marketplace for the sale of educational software and products, the final blow was administered by the withdrawal of NY State from the enterprise. Even though much of the work of exposing the risks of inBloom came from New York, and the founder of Class Size Matters, Leonie Haimson, the original States which had signed up, all withdrew before New York. http://www.classsizematters.org/
- http://bit.ly/1in1dwb Here, Diane Ravitch describes the role of Haimson in unmasking inBloom:
- an excerpt: ‘Leonie almost singlehandedly stopped the effort to mine student data, whose sponsors wanted confidential and identifiable information about every child “for the children’s sake.” Leonie saw through that ruse and raised a national ruckus to fight for student privacy. Privacy of student records is supposedly protected by federal law (FERPA), but Arne Duncan weakened the regulations so that parents could not opt out of the data mining.’
Eventually, a coalition of parents, teachers, lawyers and civil rights activists rose up with such force that even Governor Cuomo and the State Assembly could no longer ignore their message. An organization founded with Gates Foundation money, providing an integrated software platform accessible to the entire education infrastructure, storing data in a Cloud operated by Amazon.com, and owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation – for which Joel Klein notoriously left the Chancellorship of NYC’s Department of Education to become chief executive officer and product officer of Amplify, having previously served as CPO of Wireless Generation, which bought Amplify …what could possibly go wrong? Further doubts about Klein’s involvement with both Amplify and Wireless Generation are explored in this article from Education Week in 2011: http://bit.ly/1hquOPD
Once it was revealed that a condition of participation was the uploading of sensitive and legally protected student data, and that in NY, non-compliance required returning portions of Race to the Top funding, protests gained traction. While the Dept. of Education claimed faith in the security of the Cloud, and downplayed the nature of data being uploaded, it became clear that information about test scores, grade retention, disciplinary measures, suspensions, and also disabilities, Individualized Education Plans, and special needs was indiscriminately to be uploaded without parental consent. You would think the deal would collapse of its own weight even faster than it did. Given the inevitable breaches of Cloud security, and the ridiculous assertion that poor benighted teachers would spend eons uploading data and anecdotals into this ‘doomsday machine’ in order to receive suitable computer programs, worksheets and suggestions on how to maximize individual performance – what on earth were they thinking? Teachers make these kinds of decisions several times per child per day, per week, per month. Awaiting which commercial software program they ought to buy is an unnecessary interference, and the cost becomes prohibitive over time, both in money and in invasion of privacy. While Iwan Streichenberger may characterize the problem as being a lack of understanding by Luddites unable to keep up with advances in technology, the greater concern was the indiscriminate harvesting of data for profit. Additionally, protected data about students could follow them for the rest of their lives.
The success of this uprising however has enormous implications for the activists, not just education but in all areas of our Democracy. The abuses in the public arena have become so egregious that nothing short of grassroots revolt remains. This recent success encourages hope.