Please Put a Stop to New NYSED Student Data Project

The Board of Regents recently approved a Gates Foundation grant for the Regents Research Fund, “to support NYS to launch, execute and utilize implementation data collection at the state level.” Write a letter to oppose the State carrying out this project until there is more transparency concerning what personally identifiable student and teacher data will be collected, with whom the data will be shared, how they will be stored, and what their ultimate disposition will be, as well as why aggregate anonymous student data is not sufficient for the purposes of this study. 

Until and unless a permanent Chief Privacy Officer is appointed, with real expertise in the area of student privacy law, and a strengthened Parent Bill of Rights is developed with full parent input as the law requires, as well as a robust data Stakeholder Advisory Council is created with representatives from parent groups and privacy experts, this new data project should not go forward. There must also be rigorous restrictions for access to the personal student data in the State Longitudinal database and assurances that this data will never be placed into the State Archives. Until these events occur, we urge the State Education Department to immediately put a hold on this project and any other plan to expand personal student data collection.

The previous Commissioner faced intense opposition from parents, school board members, district superintendents, teachers and elected officials over his plan to share personal student data with the Gates-funded data store called inBloom Inc. Because of strong public opposition and NYSED’s refusal to change course, the Legislature was forced to pass a new law to block the participation of the state in the inBloom project. The controversy over inBloom was one of the major issues that contributed to the public’s loss of trust in Commissioner King’s leadership, as well as his eventual resignation. We do not want to have to engage in such an intense battle over student privacy once again in relation to this new data collection plan.

For more reasons to oppose this project, see the Class Size Matters/NYSAPE letter here.

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