Tag Archives: Data Mining/Privacy

Parents’ Bill of Rights

If you have been wondering about all the data privacy stuff, here are some details about the newest legislation – the Parents’ Bill of Rights – Parents have rights in children’s education.

Hopefully you read about KCSD parents’ rights to opt out of the directory information within the first 14 days after the handbooks/forms came home when school started and made your decision about whether you wanted your child’s information to be included or not.

Here is the link to the Parents’ Bill of Rights from the Kingston City School District website.


Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik in Kingston, New York – video and pictures – Sunday September 7, 2014

The Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik hosted by Kingston Action For Education on September 7, 2014 was a big success!

We had a great turnout with people from multiple school districts, both local and across the state, in attendance.  We were also pleased to have three members of the Kingston City School District board of education in attendance.  As attendees left many commented about the depth and quantity of information that they had received from Dr. Luksik.

Dr Luksik Kingston Forum2 Dr Luksik Kingston Forum

Many Kingston residents expressed a desire to attend but were unable to do so for a variety of reasons.  Thanks to Mr. Mert Melfa, who has recorded countless events across the state on a volunteer basis in the last year and a half as parents and teachers continue to battle against Common Core, video is now available for those who wish to see what they missed at the forum.  The video includes both short videos of the opening comments shared by co-founders of Kingston Action For Education Tory Lowe, Maria Maritsas and Jolyn Safron as well as the full video of the forum with the opening comments and the presentation and Q&A by Dr. Luksik.

Dr. Luksik suggested a number of things that can be done by those concerned about Common Core:

  • get informed – watch the video of the forum.  Be sure you know the facts.  For even more detailed information, visit foundedontruth.com
  • get involved politically – VOTE!  “When you walk into the ballot box, you are making a political speech.  it is the only one they MUST listen to.”
  • “The worst thing you can do is nothing.  the best thing you can do is something!”
  • Stay involved with other parents – Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) is a group of parents who are advocating for their children and all the children of this school district.  Their goal is to unify and educate parents and caregivers presenting factual information about the state of their community’s educational system.  When the need arises, KAFE is willing to take the action necessary to reclaim their voice in education.  Find Kingston Action For Education on facebook or at kingstonactionforeducation.org
  • Q&A – When writing a letter to the editor, pick ‘the one thing that floats your boat’, a personal story or something you feel strongly about.  Pick one issue.  Quote real information/facts.  Keep the letter under 300 words; one issue and hit it three times in the same letter.



Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik – Sunday September 7, 2014 – Kingston New York

I have been expressing concerns with regards to Common Core and the associated testing and data privacy issues for quite some time.  Now you can hear details and facts supporting these concerns from an expert in the education field, Dr. Peg Luksik, without having to travel any further than uptown Kingston!

Common Core Fact Forum

For Concerned Parents, Teachers, Students and Community Members

Sunday September 7, 2014  6:30 – 8:00 pm

Saint James United Methodist Church

35 Pearl Street, Kingston NY 12401


Hosted by Kingston Action For Education

  Common Core Forum event – September 7, 2014

or kingstonactionforeducation.org


Come and hear the important information that Dr. Luksik has to share and please consider bringing a friend with you.  There will also be time for Q&A after the presentation.

Common Core Forum 9/7/14 flyer

Parents’ Bill of Rights update

I posted last week (here) that it looked like the New York State Education Department was going to miss the deadline imposed by the NYS legislature to create a parents’ bill of rights regarding student data privacy.

Looks like the pressure last week moved the process along and a Bill of Rights has been posted even though a chief privacy officer has not yet been hired.

The 11-page “Parents’ Bill of Rights for Data Privacy and Security” explains that state law now provides “important new protections for student data, and new remedies for breaches of the responsibility to maintain the security and confidentiality of such data.”

The bill of rights describes parents’ rights on the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and under state law.  – lohud article, July 30, 2014

The Parents’ Bill of Rights is posted here .

inBloom gone but State Education Department delaying safeguarding of student records

The state Education Department will likely miss a legally imposed deadline to create a “parents bill of rights” on the use of student data and some anxious school districts are considering writing their own statements.

The state budget included numerous requirements for the Education Department to safeguard student records. It gave the department 120 days, or until July 29, to complete a bill of rights to be included with every contract signed with vendors that use student records.

But the Education Department first needs to hire a chief privacy officer – another requirement of the budget – and will not even start a search process until the position is approved by the state Department of Civil Service, spokesman Jonathan Burman said.

Read the full details in the article here.

Also in the area of data privacy, a press release was issued yesterday announcing the new Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.  The coalition released a letter to the leaders of the committees of the House and Senate Education Committees, urging Congress to strengthen FERPA and involve parents in the decision-making process to ensure that their children’s privacy is protected.  The full press release can be read on Diane Ravitch’s blog here.

The letter is posted here, and calls for Congress to hold hearings and enact new privacy protections that would minimize the sharing of highly sensitive student data with vendors and among state agencies and would maximize the right of parents to notification and consent. The letter also asks for strict security requirements, that the law be enforceable through fines, and that parents have the right to sue if their children’s privacy is violated.

“Parents Across America, a national network of public school parents, emphatically supports this call for hearings as a first step toward reversing federal actions that have eroded parental authority over student data, and including even stronger privacy protections for our children,” said Julie Woestehoff, a Chicago parent activist and PAA secretary. She added: “PAA recommends restoring parental authority over student data that was removed from FERPA by the US Department of Education, enacting state laws that include parental opt out provisions in any statewide data sharing program, strictly regulating in-school use of electronic hardware and software that collect student information, and including significant parent representation on any advisory committees overseeing student data collection.”

Lisa Guisbond, executive director of Citizens for Public Schools, a Massachusetts public education advocacy group, said, “Citizens for Public Schools members, including many parents, are deeply concerned about threats to the privacy of student information. We support hearings and strong legislation to protect the privacy of this data. Parents are increasingly left out of important education policy discussions. In this, as in all crucial school policy discussions, they must have a voice.”

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters and co-chair of the Coalition, concluded, “Since inBloom’s demise, many of the post-mortems have centered around the failure of elected officials and organizations who support more data sharing to include parents in the conversation around student privacy. We are no longer waiting to be invited to this debate. It is up to parents to see that we are heard , not only in statehouses but also in the nation’s capital when it comes to the critical need to safeguard our children’s most sensitive data – which if breached or misused could harm their prospects for life. We are urging Congress to listen to our concerns, and act now.

Common Core Warrior Mom at 2014 Republican Convention

I met Yvonne Gasperino online just as “Stop Common Core in New York State” was getting started – can’t remember if it was March or April 2013.  She helped me with the first baby steps of understanding the big picture of Common Core and the impact it is having on our children; the problems with not just the Common Core State Standards but the testing, the teacher appraisal system, the data collection, the loss of local control of education.

Yvonne has continued to be right there, online at all hours and traveling around the state, helping me and so many others throughout New York State as we have become ‘Warrior Moms’, moms who would have preferred to just be moms but have felt compelled to stand and fight to protect not only our children but all of the children in New York State by starting grassroots efforts to get rid of the entire failed Common Core agenda.  Yvonne is so deserving of the honor of being asked by gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino to speak at the New York State 2014 Republican Convention AND she did an amazing job!

I will be supporting candidates in November who are standing with parents against Common Core and that includes Rob Astorino for Governor of New York State.


Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this page are the personal opinions of myself, Jolyn Safron, and have not been endorsed or approved by the parent groups of which I am a part unless explicitly stated.

Common Sense Education Lobby Day – June 17, 2014

Common Sense Education Lobby Day Ulster flyer

Please come to Albany with me on June 17 to participate in Common Sense Education Lobby Day.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D, NYS Assemblyman Ed Ra, NYS Assemblyman Al Graf and NYS Senator Lee Zeldin will be speaking at the 11am rally and then we will be meeting with our legislators Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk to lobby for a withdrawal from Common Core State Standards, high stakes testing, and data mining; a restoration of control of curriculum to local school districts.

Albany Lobby Day press release  **see below**

Local radio celebrity, Richie Phillips, from 107.7 WGNA will entertain the crowd with a live performance of his original song, “Cure for the Common Core.” at Common Sense Education Lobby Day in Albany, NY 6/17/14.

Common Sense Education Lobby Day in spirit

Contact me for information on car pooling or more details about the local group traveling to Albany for Common Sense Education Lobby Day.

Related post here.

**UPDATE: The press release link above no longer works.  For an unknown reason, the press release was removed from the WNYT website ( events.wnyt.com ) the day after being posted.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Parent Groups to Attend Albany Lobby Day; Demand NYS Withdraws from Common Core Standards

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Assemblymen Ed Ra and Al Graf, and Senator Lee Zeldin to address crowd of parents, teachers, and grassroots organizers

Date: Tuesday June 17, 2014

Location: Legislative Office Building, 198 State Street, Albany, NY 12210

Press Conference:
10:00 am – 10:45 am; LCA Room, Room 130

11:00 am – 12 noon; “The Well”

CONTACT: Mary Calamia, 631-835-1824, UnitedAgainstCC@gmail.com
Nationally renowned Common Core expert, Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D., Professor Emerita at the University of Arkansas, will be addressing New York State parents and grassroots organizers in “The Well” at the Legislative Office Building, 198 State Street, Albany, NY 12210, on June 17th at 11:00 am. Dr. Stotsky’s speech will kick off “Common Sense Education Lobby Day,” during which the attendees will meet with NYS legislators to lobby for a withdrawal from Common Core State Standards, high stakes testing, and data mining; the group seeks to restore control of curriculum to local school districts.
Dr. Stotsky was a member of the original Common Core Validation Committee, which was charged with reviewing and approving the Common Core standards. She refused to endorse the Common Core standards as internationally benchmarked, rigorous, and research-based and is now an outspoken Common Core critic, advocating instead for internationally benchmarked academic standards for K-12 in mathematics and English language arts that will fulfill the goals intended for Common Core. Dr. Stotsky will be discussing educational reform and what she suggests we need to do to strengthen the American educational system.
Also addressing the crowd will be Lobby Day sponsor, NYS Assemblyman Ed Ra, along with Assemblyman Al Graf and Senator Lee Zeldin, who have sponsored legislation to halt the implementation of Common Core in New York State and create a multidisciplinary blue-ribbon panel to evaluate the standards and determine their appropriateness for New York State schools.
Local radio celebrity, Richie Phillips, from 107.7 WGNA will entertain the crowd with a live performance of his original song, “Cure for the Common Core.”

A press conference will be at 10:00 am in Room 130, prior to the event.

Data mining our children

Many parents are concerned about the multiple (400+) points of data that the New York State Education Department wants to collect on each student in their Statewide Longitudinal Data System* being created and managed by inBloom.  Others might wonder “What’s the big deal?  Why are parents so concerned?”

Here is a photo taken from a Pearson marketing video that might explain just a little bit of the concern.


I am not good at judging ages so I can’t tell how old this boy is but the concept that a computer program can determine what his college major and/or career should be causes me great concern.  I started college convinced that I was going to get a double major in math and biology with a secondary education teaching certificate.  I graduated with a degree in computer science (still in 4 years mind you!)  Even if teachers and guidance counselors are contributing to the date being used, how is a parent to know with confidence that some colleges are not being more heavily favored because they have some ‘special arrangement’ with the vendor providing the software?

Here is the full video (photo is taken from about the 5:20 mark):

Vision for Personalized and Connected Living video

My daughter thought the tables that were giant computer screens where the students worked were really cool.  I was chilled by the ‘attendance’ being taken as the students walked through the school door!  Was there retina scanning going on or were the tablets each student was carrying being scanned?  The students collaborating on the train might be neat but what about students like me who get carsick if I try to read at all in a moving vehicle and what kind of wifi access are the students using on the train?  I sure hope they have been thoroughly briefed by the school on what is safe to share via ‘public networks’ versus ‘home networks’ (ie secure networks).

We are told as parents that we need to limit the amount of screen time our children have – looks like this boy is living his entire life by/on the computer!

As a parent, what do you think of Pearson’s “Vision for Personalized & Connected Living” for your student(s)?  Are you willing to allow the school district and New York State to provide the data on your child(ren) to make it happen?  Please post your thoughts so we can find out what parents from all around the school district think on this important topic.



*Statewide Longitudinal Data System – The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) included Race to the Top monies as part of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.  As a requirement for applying for the Race to the Top money, states had to assure the federal Government that they would establish a Longitudinal Data System.  The Federal Government defined the pieces of data, which would range from PreK through college (P-20) that the states had to include in the LDS as part of the America COMPETES Act.  New York State submitted their application for stabilization funds in April 2009 signed by Governor Patterson and Commissioner Mills.

The EngageNY Portal is the interface teachers, students and families will use to access the SLDS data managed by inBloom.


What is the Common Core Agenda?

What do you think of when you hear someone say ‘Common Core’?

Do you think of the Common Core State Standards (or the Common Core State Standards Initiative CCSSI) which the states agreed to accept in exchange for Race to the Top money before they were even  written under the direction of two private nonprofit organizations, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)?

Maybe the Common Core tests come to mind – tests that were administered for the first time in New York this past spring and then the scores set to ensure that the expected percentage of student failures were achieved.

Or we have the teacher appraisal system (Annual Professional Performance Review or APPR) which uses the test scores as a big part of the rating but yet students are not supposed to worry/stress over the scores because they don’t impact the students in any way.

Perhaps you think of Common Core curriculum such as the EngageNY modules that are riddled with errors and causing children to cry at night when trying to do their homework.

And let us not forget the data being collected right and left about our children, without parental consent, that New York has agreed to share with a third party company called inBloom; over 400 data points – some data points associated with the standardized tests, some data points I have no idea why the state would need such as eye color, family voting status and bus stop times.

Some people mean one of these things when they say ‘Common Core'; some mean more than one.  I am joining a growing number of parents who are defining the horrible mess that we are fighting against as the COMMON CORE AGENDA.  I believe that the standards themselves have problems and they are an important part of the Common Core Agenda but not the only part.  The COMMON CORE AGENDA is the whole, ugly marriage of the standards, the data collection, the testing and the teacher appraisal system wrapped up into a package that is destroying our children, our teachers and our schools.  Hypothetically if the NGA and the CCSSO had written and released the Common Core Standards for everyone to use or not use as their school boards wished, WITHOUT penalties for NOT using it, WITHOUT using it to punish teachers and school districts, WITHOUT collecting our kids’ personal data and giving parents no say in the matter, none of the parents would be here fighting against Common Core; the standards would have failed or succeeded (I think failed) on their own merits.

This COMMON CORE AGENDA is why I don’t believe the standards will work (even if they were good standards) because truly they can not stand on their own and MAKE anything happen. If the intent is to force every state to achieve a certain level, the standards must have some teeth behind them to MAKE it happen. At the core, there is a philosophical battle over what is the purpose of education and who gets to make the educational decisions for children. And then you have to throw in issues like how to deal with poverty, dysfunctional families and students who don’t want to invest any effort in their own education.
The article New York should pull out of flawed Common Core was recently written by a New York parent Tricia Farmer and is a very good description of the various pieces of the Common Core Agenda that I have tried to describe in my post.  If I have lost you or you want further explanation, check out the article.  
Another parent Shelly Stevens has created the following videos that give further insight into the Common Core Agenda mess.  The words following the two video links are Shelly’s and not my own but she summarized my thoughts so well that I am going to let her close out my post.  Please give consideration to what she has to say and then consider what you are going to do with regards to the Common Core Agenda.

The Children’s Education Rights Movement

Why One NYS Mom Fights Common Core


So I leave you with one last statement that I wrote in a moment of passion recently:
Regarding Common Core, I’m not upset about “not understanding what my kids are bringing home”
I’m upset that the only 2 educators involved in the creation of these standards REJECTED them in a validation committee,
I’m upset that it was privately funded through lobbyist groups in DC,
I’m upset that this was not voted on in NYS (education without representation),
I’m upset that reading requirements include pornography, molestation, pedophilia, degrade the US military,
I’m upset that USA children are learning Singapore math with no evidence of its success,
I’m upset that over 400 personal points of data is being collected on my minor children and my family and fed to the state for them to do with as they see fit,
I’m upset that most public school teachers have a gag order on them to not be able to speak up without fear of loosing their jobs,
I’m upset that 70% of kids failed Common Core testing last year,
I’m upset that those failures hurt teachers in their evaluations,
I’m upset that our school districts will not be able to afford this new curriculum and neither will the tax payers in our district
…I’ve done my research and I want Common Core Standards, modules, and data mining ALL to STOP!

-Shelly Stevens