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Beware of Data Sharing Cheerleaders Offering Webinars

January 3, 2014

Perhaps the most sobering component of the privatization push is its unprecedented demand for data collection (data “mining”) on American students. Data mining is not just an American issue. However, on the American front, two education activists have been at the forefront of the fight against this mammoth student data collection: Louisiana’s Jason France (here’s a great example of his writing on the subject) and New York’s Leonie Haimson (her is her testimony on student data/privacy issues in a September 2013 New York city council meeting).

(For those unfamiliar with the data mining issue, see this concise yet thorough summary on the WhatIsCommonCore blog.)

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan believes that there is “power” in data for “school reform”.

Indeed there is. The issue isn’t whether there is “power” in data collection and storage, and its potential sharing. There certainly is power. That is precisely why the public is wary of the federal push to develop statewide, longitudinal data systems.

The question is whether state and federal governments (and the privatizing interests nurtured by state and federal governments) should have control of over 400 data points per student.

As is true with any attempt to hand over the public to privatizing interests (i.e., the heart of corporate reform), the potential for exploitation abounds is this so-called “data storing/ data sharing” endeavor.

Those promoting the data collection want to assure those who will be subject to it that there is nothing to fear, that if handled properly, the mountains of data can only benefit those whose lives have been mined.

Enter the “reassuring” data sharing webinar. This is sponsored by the Education Writers Association (EWA):

Student Privacy: Lost in the Cloud?
Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014
3:30 p.m.

As more school districts share data with parents and teachers, privacy advocates warn that they run the risk of violating students’ privacy. How valid are such concerns? Should parental rights trump educators’ efforts to track students? What should the federal role be?

Our webinar will look at these issues, with a particular focus on how the rollout of assessments linked to the Common Core State Standards could affect student privacy. Speakers include:

Aimee Guidera, Data Quality Campaign
Joel Reidenberg, Fordham University
Jim Shelton, U.S. Department of Education
Ben Herold, Education Week (moderator)

Space is limited — register today!  [Emphasis added.]

To those who would isolate the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) from other reforms: This webinar maintains that CCSS, its assessments, and resulting data collection are a package deal.

Furthermore, notice the wording: Should parental rights trump educators’ efforts to track students? 

Got that? It’s the educators who want to track the students!

Now, know that the term educators is the fashionable disguise to hide those with either zero or arguably cosmetic classroom experience but who have inserted themselves into key decision making positions in public education.

It isn’t the teachers and local administrators who want to collect hundreds of data points and store these in some “cloud.”

In our upside-down, corporate-reform-shaken world, educators also means education for-profits and education philanthropists.

Speaking of “education philanthropists”:

Guess whose “education stuff” dollars are all over this webinar?

Yep. Bill. Gates.

First of all, it was Gates money that funded the inBloom data “cloud.”

Next, the sponsor of the webinar, EWA, has taken $2.7 million in Gates money since 2003.

Third, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) has taken $13.5 million in Gates money. (In November 2013, I wrote this post on Aimee Guidera and DQC. Enlightening reading.)

Fourth, USDOE Assistant Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton used to work for Gates as the Gates Foundation director of its education division. Shelton is also a partner with the charter-market-creating New Schools Venture Fund (a connection to Education Undersecretary nominee Ted Mitchell) AND was a senior management consultant for McKinsey and Company (former employer of Common Core “lead architect” David Coleman).

Fifth, Fordham University professor Joel Reidenberg and others conducted a study on privacy issues and “cloud computing”… funded by Microsoft.

To be fair, I must note that Reidenberg’s paper does include the following acknowledgement and assertion of no influence of funding upon study outcomes:

A gift from Microsoft to the Center on Law and Information Policy at the Fordham University School of Law, New York, NY (Fordham CLIP) supported work on this study.

The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and are not presented as those of any of the sponsoring organizations or financial supporters of those organizations.

However, whereas the Reidenberg et al. study “proposes a set of specific, constructive recommendations for school districts and vendors to be able to address the deficiencies in privacy protection,” it does not address the question of the appropriateness of such massive data collection in the first place.

To be blunt: Reidenberg and his colleagues can offer as many reasonable cautions as they like. None if it matters since those with the power and influence to force their data collection agenda answer to no one.

Reidenberg et al. suggests the establishment of a national research center and clearinghouse.

What they should have suggested is the establishment of a regulatory agency to enforce their other suggestions and a halt to all massive data collection until such an agency were established and active.

(I have no evidence to the effect that the Reidenberg recommendations were in some way modified to suit the wishes of the study’s funder. However, I have been learning some lessons regarding the subtle limiting ability of funders upon so-called “outside” or “objective” investigation. For example, I will never forget that the agency hired by former DC Chancellor Rhee and Rhee successor Henderson to investigate cheating in DC, Caveon, had limits set by its “funders” and had to operate within the scope of those limits. Thus, I learned that it is possible for investigators [and researchers] to operate truthfully within prescribed limits. Thus, in reading the Reidenberg et al. recommendations, I wonder whether the overall study is somehow couched within parameters “suitable” to Microsoft and by extension, Gates.)

No one on this panel will offer strong cautions against massive data collection. 

Incidentally, no one on this panel will be subject to having the likes of inBloom “store” hundreds of data points connected to their lives in some unregulated “cloud.”

And so it goes in the world of corporate reform: Those cheerleading and strategically devising ways to entice “voluntary” participation/agreement are themselves removed from the consequences of their own advice.

I challenge Duncan, and Gates, and Guidera, and Shelton, and Reidenberg, and anyone else who promotes the longitudinal data collection on America’s students to first volunteer for hundreds of points of his or her own information– selected by others– to be placed in the trust and care of the privatizer-friendly data cloud.

Such a demonstration really would be the heights of “backing up one’s opinion with data.”

  1. Linda permalink

    Can these people get any sleazier? All I can think of is Harold Hill…there’s trouble here in River City.

    Sell those instruments Arne:

  2. Reblogged this on Crazy Crawfish's Blog and commented:
    Great post and new info from Dr.Schneider. I would add one additional caveat to what I’ve seen reformers and their allies do to get around proscribing favorable outcomes to research they fund. They select institutions and researchers like CREDO (for studies on charters headed by husband and wife team from Hoover institution with long histories of promoting charters) or university professors for voucher placement studies and ramifications, with a long history of supporting vouchers, to create supporting documentation for their goals while simultaneously denying the same data to less favorable or independent institutions or even federal courts.

  3. Bertis Downs permalink

    I like sitting in on their nonsense “stuff” Q & A is always fun especially if you know as much as MS, LH or JF– if you can’t be included as a skeptic then I guess the Q & A is the place . . .

  4. 2old2tch permalink

    “I challenge Duncan, and Gates, and Guidera, and Shelton, and Reidenberg, and anyone else who promotes the longitudinal data collection on America’s students to first volunteer for hundreds of points of his or her own information– selected by others– to be placed in the trust and care of the privatizer-friendly data cloud.”

    Let’s have a special ceremony. They can hand over all their children’s records to the Grand Poohbah of the Cloud to a fanfare followed by confetti and the release of thousands of doves. (Balloons are environmentally irresponsible.) We can all trail behind joyfully waving ceremonial thumb drives representing our children. It will be so special!

  5. You could have sold me anything but to question the integrity of Joel Reidenberg invalidates your post.

    • I do question why Reidenberg et al. stop short of suggesting the establishment of a regulatory agency for this monster of data mining.

      I am not trying to “sell” anything. You are free to form your own opinion. Mine has been shaped by my research.

    • FLERP! permalink

      Sheila — I’ve known Joel personally and professionally Joel for years, and I completely agree.

  6. Has the author or commenters read 2009 @fordhamclip Reidenberg Report “CHILDREN’S EDUCATIONAL RECORDS AND PRIVACY — A STUDY OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL STATE REPORTING SYSTEMS “– October 28, 2009

    Click to access CLIP_Report_Childrens_Privacy_Final.pdf

    • Sheila, I hope Reidenberg offers some balance to this webinar.

      We’ll see.

      However, neither Reidenberg (in the current paper) nor the other EWA webinar presenters offer the position that this massive data collection effort is dangerous and should not happen.

      • Sahila permalink

        I agree – we should not advance; aside from the huge privacy issue and the non-voluntary nature of the collection mechanisms, none of the data being collected is necessary or helpful for helping a child learn and grow…

        its being collected to be put to other uses, including filling out the details in a “Big Brother” birth-to-death database and creating products to sell back into education…. which makes our children nothing more than prisoners of the state, unpaid and involuntary test subjects and cash cows on multiple levels…. enough is enough!

      • LLC1923 permalink

        Not only are the children nothing more than cash cows on multiple levels for the corporate data mining schemes, inBloom will use public school teachers and others as free labor to enter the data.

        Lawsuits will be filed on grounds that News Corp has developed a profit-making scheme for inBloom and other entities to exploit the captive public education work force as free labor.

      • Womb to Tomb are the exact words the presenters used at SLC Camp Chicago (the precursor to inBloom).
        The camp was set up to get tech directors (from public schools) and Vendors together to collaborate on how all this data collection could be used, to be both a GOOD and PROFITABLE thing. The vendors were all over us like vultures, trying to sell us their idea of what ‘they’ could do with such wonderful amounts of students data to help students. It was infuriating….I ended up walking out.

    • EllenLubic permalink

      Sheila and community…I did just read the Fordham report written in 2009 (researched probably earlier in 2007 – 8) with the prime input of a student researcher. You need only read the introduction to see that the theme does stipulate that data mining is an invasion of student privacy. It is worthwhile to read this, but to keep in mind that it was written at least 5 years ago before the business model of inBloom was a ‘fait accompli’ for profit, business reality advertised worldwide.

  7. I can’t speak for Joel. I can only tell you I trust his opinion as well as the opinion of others at both ends of the privacy disclosure continuum. Perhaps one can have the opinion that massive data collection is risky & we should advance w care & caution.

    I would said all panelists would agree.

    • How about “advance” with explicit, verifiable consent from every single parent?

      • TN Momma permalink

        Yes!! All data collection should require affirmative and informed consent of parents. And if parental consent is not feasible then get a court order. We give more privacy protections to criminals than our children, shameful!

  8. And I do not think we should “advance.”

    I am not alone in this opinion, yet this opinion is not represented on this panel.

    Plus the advertisement is slanted to make it seem that “educators” want this massive data collection.

    Plus the Gates money is all over this.

    “Proceed with caution” at this point certainly would involve the establishment of a regulatory agency.

    • 2old2tch permalink

      I am feeling really old these days. I object to any casual assumption that educational agencies should have access to all this data much less warehouse it in cyberspace. I don’t care what wonderful things people claim they can do with this data. None of us have shown ourselves to be particularly good at protecting other people’s information unless we are threatened with major consequences. No one really has much idea what they want to do with the information either. It is being collected because someone will think of something to do with it. There isn’t even a guarantee that it will be safe! I like those old file cabinets in the school office that kept a cumulative record of each student under the watchful eye of office staff. Can anyone imagine a textbook publisher being allowed to waltz into a school office to peruse student records? Why is it all of a sudden legitimate when it is in a giant data warehouse?

    • I too would be freaked out if what is written were true. But it’s not.

      • ColoMom permalink

        Sheila-What part of this blog do you propose is untrue? …That storing our children’s data is risky? or that people are making money off our children’s data? Perhaps you personally trust Joel but he isn’t doing anything stop data mining, is he? I would greatly appreciate a regulatory agency and the right to opt children out of the cloud.
        I would also like to see you support your viewpoints with research of your own.

    • Janine Largent permalink

      This is not complicated and it does not require a degree to analyze it. I don’t care if they are doing something tremendously wonderful with the information. There are things more important than even improving education.

      The protection of human rights trumps the fear of the state that our kids don’t appear to rank high enough on some arbitrary international testing scheme. The PISA is incapable of measuring actual outcomes and is not applied in an equitable way.

      The right to privacy is a fundamental human right. I can’t believe we are even discussing this. I guess I, too am getting old.

      • 2old2tch permalink

        “The right to privacy is a fundamental human right. I can’t believe we are even discussing this. I guess I, too am getting old.”

        Me, too.

  9. Laura h. Chapman permalink

    The Teacher Student Data Link (TSDL) is one facet of a data gathering campaign funded at $390,493,545 between 2005 and mid-May 2011 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This campaign intends to: 1. Determine which teachers help students become college-ready and successful, 2. Determine characteristics of effective educators, 3. Identify programs that prepare highly qualified and effective teachers, 4. Assess the value of non-traditional teacher preparation programs, 5. Evaluate professional development programs, 6. Determine variables that help or hinder student learning, 7. Plan effective assistance for teachers early in their career, and 8. Inform policy makers of best value practices, including compensation. See
    The TSDL system is intended to ensure that all courses are based on standards, and that all responsibilities for learning are assigned to one or more “teachers of record” in charge of a student or class. A teacher of record has a unique identifier (think barcode) for an entire career in teaching. A record is generated whenever a teacher of record has some specified proportion of responsibility for “a student’s learning activities” identified by the performance measures for a particular standard, subject, and grade level.
    In addition to the eight purposes noted above, the TSDL system aims to have ”period-by-period tracking of teachers and students every day; including tests, quizzes, projects, homework, classroom participation, or other forms of day-to-day assessments and progress measures”—a level of accountability (I call it surveillance) that is said to be comparable to business practices (TSDL, 2011, “Key Components”).
    The system will keep current and longitudinal data on teachers and individual students, schools, districts, states, and educators ranging from principals to higher education faculty. The aim is to determine the “best value” investments in education and monitor outcomes, taking into account as many demographic factors as possible, including health records for preschoolers.
    This Gates-funded campaign adds resources to the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program, authorized under Title II, Educational Technical Assistance of the ‘‘Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 H. R. 3801.” The first grants were made in 2005, the same year that the Gates’ Foundation started the parallel Data Quality Campaign. See Since 2006, the U.S. Department of Education has invested over $700 million in the SLDS Grant Program enabling more than forty states to create standardized longitudinal data systems. These are intended to “efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, and use education data, including individual student records” so that districts, schools, and teachers “can make data-driven decisions to improve student learning, as well as facilitate research to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps” (USDE, 2011, Overview). For more see Battelle for Kids is serving as a data warehouse for several states. This organization, initiated by the Ohio Business Roundtable and funded by a $10 million grant from Battelle Memorial Institute, received about $6.5 million from the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation between 2005 and mid-May 2011. The marketing campaign for data gathering is visiable at The graphic for the USDE data system is here:

    • Foucault, calling Dr. Foucault. You’re needed in the US of A now to help clarify “discipline”, “surveillance” and “punish”.

    • That level of individual surveillance is horrifying. I know it’s cliche to call this Big Brother stuff, but the fact of the matter is that it’s far worse than anything Orwell envisioned.

  10. Mercedes, your research and reporting are invaluable. As a high school English teacher I want to add that this data gathering fetish, which is about as creepy as it gets, has nothing to do with providing young people with a great education. It comes down to a simple choice. Are we interested in providing a world class educational experience for every young person or are we interested in controlling and predicting the behavior of that young person throughout their life? This drive to collect data on every student is about control. Don’t give one iota of credence to the “useful things” that can be done with that data.
    I recognize that I’m in the minority but my experience has taught me that despite misguided efforts early in my career to categorize, label and view each student along some bell curve of intelligence that bell curve is a toxic lie. Given the freedom to explore and the encouragement to create young people will shatter all the ‘useful data’ that has been gathered on them. Given high expectations and latitude to operate with autonomy young people are a ferocious force that can obliterate those meaningless data points, build significance and meaning out of their own curiosity and shine a glaring light on that naked Emperor Gates.
    Mercedes, you are providing a huge public service. Keep it up.

  11. I think many people would be rather surprised to hear me called a “data sharing cheerleader” or someone who “promotes the longitudinal data collection of America’s students.” A cursory look at my publications, conference presentations and congressional testimony over the years will speak for itself on my position with respect to privacy and data sharing. This type of name calling as a tactic in an important policy debate both demeans and undermines valuable points.

    The suggestion that our study “is somehow couched within parameters ‘suitable’ to Microsoft and by extension, Gates” is both wrong and offensive. My team and I defined the scope of the project, designed the methods for the research, conducted the research, analyzed the results, drew conclusions and formulated the recommendations. We performed each of these tasks on our own without any influence from any donor or sponsor of Fordham CLIP.

    • Yet your recommendations presume that these folks collecting all of this data require no formal oversight. I challenge you on January 9 to pursue discussion of the dangers of unregulated data collection.

      • If you’re interested in unregulated data look at FERPA directory information. That’s unregulated. Without singling out individuals, few privacy advocates inform parents of their right under FERPA to opt out of disclosure of PII designated as directory information.

        You don’t have to fight for the right. You just have to know about it. And that’s not happening. I can tell you that one of the NY Assembly bills that is being pushed allows the sale of PII with consent.

        Why would or should schools sell kids’ data? Even with consent? Don’t we want to to limit PII disclosures, especially unregulated data use? Ask the supporters of the bill.

        Here’s information about opting out of directory information:

    • Concerned Citizen permalink

      By accepting funding from stakeholders in the debate, you are by definition biased. Disclosing the funding, and offering the disclaimer “the views expressed are those of the authors” is not adequate.

      Having accepted Gates money once, you would likely want to get paid again, and thus you might want to avoid offending or displeasing the Gates people. Thus the appearance of bias is firmly established. Gates needn’t provide you guidelines…common sense would tell you what is acceptable to them.

      • Joel Reidenberg permalink

        Concerned Citizen, you should be more careful with your facts. Fordham CLIP has not received any funding from the Gates Foundation. I suggest that you read our report before you make any declarations about the content. You may find a copy here: .

        I will add that, as an academic research center, we do not accept funds from any source that would restrict our research independence. Indeed, we receive funding from a variety sources with opposing interests (e.g. both Microsoft and Google have provided gifts to Fordham CLIP). We have also received funding from government agencies such as the National Science Foundation that have their own agendas, too.

      • Linda permalink

        We don’t trust any of those organizations: government, corporations or foundations.

        We will protect our children. No test scores, no data.

      • Concerned Citizen permalink

        Mr. Reidenberg, you say I should be more careful, because you took money from Microsoft, and not the Gates Foundation. But I didn’t say you took money from the Gates Foundation, I said you took money from Gates and the Gates people. Microsoft, the Gates Foundation, and Bill Gates himself are all part of the same juggernaut.

        It is laughable that you highlight the fact that you’ve taken money from Microsoft, Google, and government agencies as evidence of your independence and objectivity. All of them have the exact same agenda on the issue under debate here. They all want a totally digitized world where states and the federal government gather as much student data as communities will tolerate, while private tech companies profit from building the digital infrastructure to collect, store, and analyze the student data.

        If, in addition to the biggest proponents of student data mining, you also get support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation or some other digital rights organization, please let us know.

    • Joel, you can certainly argue for the independence of your research effort, whoever funded it, but your don’t get to be “offended” by people who disagree. That just set off an alarm bell for me.

      My background is in medical science research, and believe me, if AMGEN funded your research on erythropoeitin, your disclosure would in no way insulate you from skepticism. Scientists expect one another to tolerate that politely, and never to impugn the right of others to hold such skepticism.

      • Joel Reidenberg permalink

        chemtchr, I take no offense at someone who engages in scientific dialog and disagrees with my research by presenting contrary arguments and evidence. That is quite different from ad hominem attacks, innuendo, and false statements.

      • Linda permalink

        Please protect children and advise all to opt out.

        No testing, then no need for data just like: Sidwell Friends, Lakeside, Hotchkiss, Miss Porters, etc.

        Thank you. See united opt out for more details.

      • Again I say, remarks about possible bias due to funding sources just don’t constitute “ad hominum attacks”, period.

      • Joel Reidenberg permalink

        I did not say that the statements about possible bias due to funding sources were ad hominum attacks. I was refering to some of the name calling such as “data sharing cheerleader”.

        If you look at the various comments, you will see innuendo and false assertions. These are offensive, plain and simple. They cannot be characterized as reasoned discussion and skepticism.

      • Linda permalink

        “They cannot be characterized as reasoned discussion and skepticism.”

        According to you…. I guess that can happen when there is no trust and people are using our children for their own gain. We do not need data collection. We don’t want it. We will fight.

        Represent children not billionaires please.

      • Reidenberg, I’m glad that the comment bothers you. It bothers me that your research recommendations offer no hint of the danger of this data collection.

        By not speaking against it, you are contributing to the likes of DQC and inBloom.

        One need not be vocal to be a cheerleader. One can simply be quiet and provide foundation upon which the vocal others build the cheer pyramid.

      • Joel Reidenberg permalink

        I think you should read the whole study– , read our 2009 study on state longitudinal databases –, and read my Congressional testimony at before you claim to represent my positions.

      • Joel Reidenberg permalink


      • Reidenberg, I am asking you to go on the record here and now:

        Do you plan to discuss the dangers of unregulated data collection on Jan 9th, or no?

      • Do you plan to suggest the need for a regulatory agency to oversee data storage and sharing? Or do you plan to simply offer recommendations that you expect these individuals and companies with data to simply institute in good faith?

      • Joel Reidenberg permalink

        Listen on January 9th. After all the non-sense that has been written about my work here, I am not going to engage in any substantive discussion on this blog.

      • Linda permalink

        It was a simple yes or no, what’s the big deal?

      • You sure hung in here for a long time for just “nonsense.” And when you were put on the spot, you ducked.

        It is not “nonsense” to those of us whose lives are directly affected.

        I hope you prove me wrong. If not, enjoy your position in the pyramid.

        Sorry, I can’t listen to you on your webinar. I teach public school at that time.

  12. I enjoy my membership in the EWA and continue to support them with money, even though they don’t officially collect dues on a mandatory basis anymore. I’ve been a member for several years, and I have found that the association generally provides balanced content for the webinars whenever appropriate experts can be found on all sides of an issue. Furthermore, they provide numerous resources for journalists, which have even helped me in my work for the public schools.

    I would like to add that even Education Week receives funding from the Gates Foundation. They write, Gates “supports coverage of the education industry and K-12 innovation in Education Week and on, and provides capacity-building support for Editorial Projects in Education, Education Week’s nonprofit parent company.” Despite the funding from Gates, Walton, Carnegie, et al., “Editorial decision-making and the creation and publication of content—including content produced with support from philanthropic funding—remain in the sole control of Education Week, under the direction of its Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor.”

    I think it’s the same for EWA, which predates Gates by a few decades. I understand you’re following the money, and I’ve read this blog for some time in awe of your research. However, I don’t think you should characterize a webinar sponsored by EWA without understanding a little more about the association and the service it provides, or without attending the actual webnar.

    There are very important issues when it comes to data mining, and unless you want to gather experts yourself and get them to present a webinar with equal representation from both sides, you should realize the EWA has taken on a daunting task here. Maybe they’re able to do that because of the money from Gates.

    I detest inBloom and everything it represents, along with the serious chances for abuse it creates, but this issue is far bigger than Gates and the money, and spending your great effort on that narrow scope prevents discussion on some of the more important factors.

    • Here is the bottom line: No one on this panel will speak strongly against data mining. If you “detest inBloom,” perhaps you should petition to be added to the panel.

    • I use to detest inBloom but after more than a year & recently, months of fact finding I have learned it is not as represented and discussed on blogs, twitter, news – most media. Parents are not informed about inBloom. They’re hearing what people think about inBloom. Too much misinformation is being shared & that alone is concerning.

      I’ve also learned more about how the system operates. It’s a filing cabinet. The only data it holds are data that a district (in NY the state) shares with inBloom. There is a bill in NY (S6007) that gives the districts control.

      Vendors only have access to data approved, the data is destroyed after the contract ends (with inBloom) & the PII is double encrypted on inBloom. The contracts with the vendors are a problem & I think that’s what Joel is going to be speaking on.

      As far as parents opting in to all data collection – no school can operate this way. However, if the districts have control (S6007) then who’s to say the district can’t determine (and live with ) an all opt-in policy.

      There are pros & cons to blanket opt in and blanket opt out.

      And as I said, if parents are concerned about PII about their children why aren’t they opting out of directory information? And why isn’t this information being shared with parents?

      • Linda permalink

        Answer one question. Is inbloom the warehouse or collection group for Amplify? Yes or no?

      • “As far as parents opting in to all data collection – no school can operate this way”

        Why not?

        As a parent I shouldn’t have to “opt out” of anything. The presumption should be of privacy first and only informed consent to “opt in” after having been thoroughly informed, and no, not in small legalese of thirty pages of gobbledeegook of all the possible problems, consequences of loss of security, etc. . . .

      • 2old2tch permalink

        Exactly. Privacy should be the default position. I used to think it was.

      • EllenLubic permalink

        C’mon Sheila…it is either huge naivete or lack of awareness to avoid looking at the reputation of the prime owner of the company. inBloom is owned by Rupert Murdoch, one of the most duplicitous business men on the planet. His British staff, including his son, is under indictment for data mining and hacking, and theft of private information…and the buck stops with Rupert.

        Educators have long followed the career of Joel Klein, Murdoch’s choice to run his-owned Amplify. These are not corporate angels…but rather, these men with all their money and power seek to rule with no deterrents, and Murdoch and Gates have endless access to the most effective lawyers to keep them beyond the reach of the DoJ. Though the Micorsoft trial was an big intrusion into the godly life of Gates.

        There is no one more suspect for profiting from the inBloom cloud than owner, Rupert Murdoch.

        It with all this in mind that I hope Reidenberg forces the issues of privacy, hacking, sales to secondary contractors, and the multitude of vital answers the public needs…and would be asked by Diane Ravitch or Mercedes if they were on the panel.

    • Linda permalink


      • Are you typing? I can’t tell.

      • Linda permalink

        Yes, I am:

        But one of the most intriguing aspects of the story is one that the NYT does not address at all. No where does the NYT mention that the operating system for inBloom is being developed by the Amplify division (formerly Wireless Generation) of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. This is a striking omission given that that the NYT is the paper of record in New York City where the CEO of Amplify/Wireless Generation, Joel Klein, recently served as schools chancellor. And this despite the fact that New York is one of only three states out of an original nine that, according to the article, “continues to pursue the service.”

        In a brief phone conversation, Natasha Singer, the author of the article, explained that the aim of her story was to focus on “one small district in Colorado” and how technology and privacy concerns associated with inBloom play out in an area with much fewer resources than New York City. She also noted that, as is often the case, much was cut from her original story during the editing process.

        While inBloom itself is a non-profit, one of its expressed aims, as the NYT points out, is to “bolster the market for educational products.” The K-12 education software market alone is estimated at $8 billion according to the Software and Information Industry Association. Murdoch, however, has pegged the education-technology market, which also includes hardware and networking technology, at $500 billion.

        3. The Murdoch/Gates/Klein connection
        This connection is likely the single biggest factor drawing attention to inBloom. Rupert Murdoch owns Wireless Generation (now rebranded as Amplify), which was a contractor for inBloom. Amplify is run by Joel Klein, the controversial and divisive ex-Chancellor of New York City Department of Education.

        Individually, these three people have enraged people all over the social and educational spectrum. Collectively, you couldn’t ask for a better trifecta of questionable intentions, mistrust, misdeeds, and misinformation.

        4. Timing and Connections With Common Core
        inBloom is getting rolled out in parallel with the Common Core State Standards. The fact that the ex-Executive Director for the Council of Chief State School Officers (a central player in the development of Common Core, and a recipient of Gates funding) is on the board of inBloom doesn’t help downplay the connection. The fact that the Council of Chief State School Officers has been very open in its support of inBloom doesn’t help downplay the connection either.

        The Common Core connection, in combination with Murdoch/Gates/Klein connection, is toxic, and inBloom never directly or effectively addressed these issues.

  13. Thank you for taking the time to explain what was going on. I already knew what you told me but you shared comprehensive information & it’s obviously important to you or you wouldn’t have taken the time to explain it to me. You asked for a yes or no and my final answer is no.

    • Linda permalink

      And I say yes, thus all the confusion and the lack of credibility.

      Parents and teachers will NEVER trust these organizations and the educrats lie to us.

    • Garrett Suhm permalink

      Hi Linda and Sheila,

      My name is Garrett Suhm, and I’m the CTO for inBloom. Hopefully I can clear up some of the confusion as to the relationship between Amplify and us.

      inBloom hired Wireless Generation (now known as Amplify), a News Corp. subsidiary, to build part of the our software infrastructure on a contract basis. That work is now complete. None of the technology companies that helped build inBloom services, including Wireless Generation, have any proprietary rights to our technology, and none of them will have access to the data that states and districts collect unless the states or districts contract with them separately.

      All development is now done by my team (as well as open-source contributors). The platform Does that make sense?

      • Linda permalink


        Give me some specifics.

        What will you provide to teachers and parents that they don’t already know about the children in their care?

        How will your organization enhance teaching and learning without depleting more from already tight budgets, which usually leads to less teachers and larger class size?

        It is my opinion, as a teacher and parent, that we need more people who work directly with our students, who are human beings, not more data schemes to dehumanize our children.

        My kids (home and school) are not data points or scores to be ranked. Once the humanity is taken out of teaching and learning, the edudilettanates have reduced teachers to drones and kids to clones. Parents and teachers will not allow this to happen; we are united.

      • Garrett Suhm permalink

        Hi Linda,

        Giving teachers more information and tools to help the students in their classroom is our mission as a non-profit. Our FAQ has more details:

        Schools already spend a lot of money on technology and data integration. A typical school district has over a dozen proprietary technology systems, and often pays consultants to write programs that copy data from one system to another (creating duplicate and often inaccurate data). Having an open standard that addresses this duplication as well as security will actually improve the current situation in the long run – leaving more resources for teaching and students.

        inBloom does not score or rank anything — we are simply an encrypted data service that our customers (districts typically) can use for their benefit.

      • Linda permalink


        I still don’t see a specific classroom use for your company from the perspective of a classroom teacher.

        The data I gather every day includes: seeing, listening, supporting, mentoring, cheering, encouraging, etc. Educators, the real kind in the classroom, not the self appointed experts or those who dabbled for a few years, are never included in these discussions. I gather “data” daily but it’s not what you think and I am data informed but NOT data driven.

        There is a HUGE disconnect between real life in schools and these ventures. I don’t think you or your organization “get” teachers. You may have the E4E Gates-backed newbies or the TFA interns telling you what you want to hear, but you don’t have the majority of the rank and file teachers.

        I never understood why Shared Learning Collaborative morphed into inBloom. They had this cheesy, condescending video with 4 little beige avatar children and one teacher (that’s never the ratio, try 26-30:1) and she was able to get to know them from the SLC data chart. If you can find the video the comments from viewers, mostly teachers and parents, were very negative.

        inBloom has an image problem because you are associated with Gates (wealthy but clueless about teaching/learning, but evidently no one has told him), Murdoch (wealthy and hacked into the cell phone of murdered, missing thirteen year old girl and he sees public Ed as a money maker) and Klein (failed NYC chancellor who manipulates testing results and cut off scores to make himself look good).

        So Garrett, the billionaires will tell you it’s all for the kid$, but we don’t buy it. Will they submit their children’s data for inBloom to store or do they even have data collection in private schools?

        Their money comes with strings attached and it benefits them and their money making schemes and we (informed teachers, parents and students) are not interested.

      • Garret,

        inBloom’s contract with Louisiana contained these passages (among others)

        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

        14.3 Subcontracting. Service Provider may freely subcontract its duties and obligations under this Agreement.

        These clauses from your contract state you may sell or reassign your contract, responsibilities and agreement to others without clients having recourse or say in the matter.

        You also state you can contract or subcontract any of your duties and obligations with anyone for anything, just as you once subcontracted to Wireless Generation in the past. You may have contracts with them right now, and probably do. Nothing prevents you from using them again for anything. Pointing out that you used them for a past service does not mean you are not using them now for other support, or that you won’t use them in the future, correct?

        Any of these vendors that have access to your repository for maintenance, testing, security, storage, integration, reporting, etc, will have access to your client’s data at some point. In addition I find it difficult to believe no one on your staff will have access to this data to handle support calls, questions and reporting. These are not folks clients specify, these are your folks, you specify.

        When the NSA, Pentagon, and even the Amazon cloud service you are storing this data on have all been hacked/infiltrated, and had data exposed and stolen by Top Secret clearance contractors or hackers, how likely to you think it is that your service will suffer the same fate at some point? If you find it highly unlikely, why do you insist your clients hold you harmless in the event of massive exposures, and limit your liability insurance to something so small it would allow only a few pennies of compensation per student account violated?

        Since FERPA has no serious constraints against vendors, only school districts, what’s to stop you and others from using this data however you want, and how would anyone even know, you are a private entity, beyond monitoring.

        What are your plans to obtain data if all districts, including New York, withdraw from working with you? Do you intend to obtain data from other vendors that you partner with now that have access to student data?

        Why are you insisting on storing all student data when you could simply store deidentified data with a key that points to a directory on a client’s side that would allow vendors to read data as needed, and not store it centrally on your service where it would be more vulnerable to hackers, unauthorized commercialation,, abuse or accidental release?

      • Garret,

        Are you anticipating teachers will start entering data directly into inBloom, or will they not simply be forced to use the same applications they do now, that create the data you store, thus storing the data in two places. You talk about creating efficiencies by eliminating the need for data transfer, but that transfer must still take place, just it must be sent to you now. The only way I see this as potentially more efficient is in the long run, if you replace local storage and vendor databases with your framework. Then any vendor that wants to create a new field will have to ask you to create them to hold their data, true? You intend to be the ultimate backend environment, by obsoleting all current systems school districts currently use. You will then collect fees from school districts and your partners, true? inBloom hs already proposed ways it will lessen fees to school districts, when they purchase products from your vendors. You intend to build a data monopoly that will require all vendors to work with you, and starve off/out all vendors not doing business with you. You claim you are doing this for efficiency, but the real goal is to build a student warehousing monopoly.

        Additionally, any Federal agency that wants data can secretly subpoena you, as they do with cell phone company records now, and get data for whatever purpose they want, without states having a recourse. This would have sidestepped Louisiana’s sovereignty with the Federal government over voucher data, which might have been a positive, but I wonder if states realize by allowing this they are essentially ceding data over to the Federal government without due process? That’s my little epiphany nugget for Federalists to chew over. 🙂

      • If Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates endorse it, I oppose it. I don’t trust billionaires who send their kids to private school to make decisions for the rest of our children. Gates and Bloomberg and the puppets they control have lost all credibility. I won’t buy into anything their selling.

      • Benoit permalink

        I am eagerly awaiting Mr. Suhm’s response to crazyzrawfish’s questions though the prolonged silence is deafening.

  14. Debbie Sachs permalink

    I think Ms. Kaplan brings up a very important point with reference to her statement that “parents were not informed about InBloom.” Parents were not the only ones kept in the dark – our legislators and BESE board had no knowledge that Louisiana had entered into a contract with InBloom until after the fact. The only person that I am aware of that had knowledge of this secret contract with InBloom was John White. The question is WHY?

    Thanks to you Dr. Schneider, Jason France, and Leonie Haimson – I think we all know the answer to that question.

    • Sorry, I wasn’t talking about InBloom. I was talking about parents not being informed about opting out of directory information. Parents are concerned about inBloom having the same information that is public information if parents don’t opt their child out of directory information disclosure.

      I was saying some privacy advocates who oppose disclosure of this information to inBloom don’t inform parents these same data can be sold, used to harm child, profile… but they CAN opt out of this disclosure. It’s already their right as a parent.

      Why don’t the most vocal anti-inBloom advocates tell parents about opting out of directory information?

      However I understand inBloom was a surprise to parents.

      • Sheila,

        Parents have no rights to opt out in practice. I opted out, as did many parents, yet all data, including SSN’s were sent to inBloom, multiple times. inBloom actually cancelled the contract with us because the State would not stop doing this. The only entity that can enforce an opt-out is FPCO and US ED, and they have chosen not to. There are no legal actions parents can take and no way to verify if our data has been “opted out.” It’s taken me months of secret inquires, threats of lawsuits, whistleblowers, and FOIA requests to determine these requests were ignored. No one has been sanctioned, punished or investigated. The opt-out seems to be more focused towards schools districts, not state agencies or regional state aggregators as you have in New York or Texas. Once that data makes its way to inBloom there are even fewer protections for parents and sanctions for vendors. US Ed has no authority to audit private vendors and no power to fine or penalize them in any way. They can ban state agencies from providing data to them in egregious cases (that they alone have the power to decide if the cases are egregious) but if the vendor gets the data another way, how will they ever know and how would such a data sanction ever be enforced in practice? They could simply reincorporate themselves as a new entity at any time, as they have already, and ignore any sanction. Allowing private companies access to data that cannot be monitored, supervised or penalized for abuse is a bad idea. FERPA is meaningless for all practical purposes. I wish you would stop telling people they have rights that in practice they really do not have. States and vendors have called FERPAs bluff and they won. It is a toothless piece of fig leaf legislation and protection. It probably does more harm than good since most people believe it is something that it is not. States use it to deny access to data to evaluate their policies, and give it to whomever they choose to support their agenda. It is worth less than nothing in its current form. Without it, we might actually be forced to create a real law that protects privacy and children, while still allowing companies to operate in an level framework.

      • ColoMom permalink

        As easy as you make this sound, parents cannot opt out of inBloom or SLDS.

        Parents in JeffCo tried to opt out of inBloom and data was still collected. SLDS is required by all states who took ARRA money; schools have to collect student data.

        The SLDS program provided grants to states to design, develop, and implement
        statewide P-20 longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use
        student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.

  15. To respond to Suhm: The service agreement between NYS and the SLC (which morphed into inBloom) allows sub-contractors including Wireless to access the data in order to ensure the operating system is running smoothly. Since the inBloom data store and system has yet to be tested in full operational mode, I imagine that Wireless will still be asked to access the data when technical glitches arise, as is likely to occur.

    The main point though and the reason why inBloom represents a particular danger above and beyond existing data-sharing schemes is that it was designed to facilitate the sharing of personal data with as many vendors and other 3rd parties as possible –without parental consent — to encourage and accelerate a market in “personalized learning tools”; not only by formatting as much personal student data in an easily digestible form but also by offering financial incentives to vendors who would build their software tools around it — with the full wealth and power of the Gates Foundation behind it.

    As to the issue of the EWA webinar: I think it’s fine that Reidenberg was selected to participate, as he is a real expert in student privacy and how their privacy has been undermined by many of the risky practices engaged in by districts already. However, the panel is still stacked against him, with Shelton and Guidera likely to argue on the other side. And he is not a parent advocate but a legal expert. Especially if the panel is going to discuss whether “parental rights” should “trump educators’ efforts to track students” as described above, there should be someone on the panel to advocate for parents rights as well.

    It would also have been good to have someone who represents educators participating. For as someone already commented, inBloom and the goal of maximum data collection and sharing is not being driven by educators, contrary to the description above, but by corporate reformers whose ultimate aim is to use the data 1- to evaluate teachers and various “reforms” through the use of this data, calculated through unreliable and invalid value-added formulas; and 2- to replace the need for teachers as much as possible through data-mining software. Neither of these goals are supported by most educators as far as I know. In fact, many superintendents and teachers in NYS have spoken out against inBloom and vehemently oppose the widespread sharing of the data. See Carol Burris on this at who joins many other administrators and teachers who are on record vs. the maximal collection and sharing of PII student data. As I point out in the testimony linked to above, even if only used within the school setting, tracking of student records through the data dashboards can lead to “profiling” and stereotyping by teachers, which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and hinder student success.

    • Garrett Suhm permalink

      To clear up a misconception, Wireless / Amplify NEVER had access to any customer data. inBloom has a separate team for managing our production systems (and it has always been that way). It is standard practice to to separate software development from operations.

      Software interoperability can also drive down costs. As an extreme example, do you notice that iPhone and Android apps often cost .99 cents or even free? Remember when software used to cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars for consumers? If people do the research, they will see that their schools pay far more than that for proprietary solutions, instead of ones based on open standards and a competitive marketplace.

      • Garrett: if Wireless never had access to the student data (which contradicts what I have heard before from inBloom) and “it is standard practice to to separate software development from operations” why do any vendors, including those producing the inBloom-linked data dashboards in NYS, need any access to student data either?

      • Garrett Suhm permalink

        Amplify never had access to any data, ever. Not sure where you heard that, but it’s incorrect.

      • LLC1923 permalink

        Contrary to what Suhm says, I can assure readers that Wireless Generation also known as Amplify and inBloom all have access to student data. Suhm evidently did not attend the same WG “professional development” session that I attended. I’m curious about why the company operates under so many names. Several power points are available casting a shadow on Suhm’s statement.

        Just Google Wireless Generation’s PowerPoints and Suhm has some explaining to do!

    • Isn’t it silly thinking you can control something you’re not doing yourself? I think Errol Louis from NY1 got it right when he told you it’s his show. He chooses the topics.

      I am looking forward to the webinar.

      • Linda permalink

        Parents and teachers will be forever grateful to Leonie.

        You seem to waffle back and forth, which I find very confusing.

        We know who stands for the protection of our children, those we raise and those we teach.

      • Sheila Kaplan, you certainly are puzzling:

        “Sheila has brought state and national attention to the issue of children’s privacy rights under federal education law and has identified gaps in the system that leave students vulnerable to breaches of their personal privacy. She has consulted with federal officials on making the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) more responsive to the 21st century challenges of protecting students’ education records in the electronic information age. Sheila’s comments submitted in May 2011 to the U.S. Department of Education on the proposed amendments to FERPA focused on the failure of the proposed rules to adhere to the highest standards of practice in protecting students’ privacy and confidentiality.

        “Sheila led efforts to introduce a student privacy bill (S.2357) in the New York State Legislature that would impose greater restrictions on access to student information than what is afforded under federal law. Although the bill passed 62-0 in the NY Senate in 2011 and was advanced by the Senate Education Committee in 2012, measure was not taken up by the Assembly.

        “Given the growing state-level interest in protecting student privacy, Sheila has developed a model STUDENT PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT. She also continues to reach out to parents to inform them of their rights under FERPA and what they can do to protect their children. In September 2011 she launched Education New York’s National Opt-out Campaign to alert parents to their rights under FERPA to restrict third-party access to their children’s information and encourage them to review their school’s annual FERPA notification at the beginning of the school year.

        “To kick off the 2013 OPT-OUT Campaign Sheila produced the video, ‘It’s 3 PM: Who’s Watching Your Children?’.”

    • Perhaps you missed this document, Leonie. I’m not certain whether Joel has children or not but he was on the school board in 2006.

      Click to access 04.14.10_reidenberg.pdf

      Are you upset you weren’t asked to represent parents? That you’re not the parent advocate? I’m sure most people on this blog think you are qualified.

      Let’s not forget you think it’s OK for schools to sell information about kids w consent. You think it’s OK (w consent) to allow profiling children, although your comments elsewhere state you’re concerned about tracking & why.

      I don’t this this information should be allowed to be used for sale, profiling, rent or marketing. You do.

      And you think it’s great when parents of special ed children disclose information about their children’s physical, mental & emotional health to the public at hearings, on TV, in newspapers & blogs. This is information that FERPA would protect but not if a parent discloses it publicly. You’re worried about inbloom having this information but not the public.

      These disclosure are OK with you, but not with me. I don’t believe you are thinking about the best interest of a child when you violate their privacy by exposing PPSI. Yes, the parent agreed. I would have cautioned against & if they chose to do this on their own — I wouldn’t promote these disclosures as you do on twitter & your blogs. Every time you post these stories you violate that child’s privacy.

      Oh yeah — almost forgot. You don’t want to inform parents of their right to opt out of directory information because as you told me it would ‘confuse’ them & give them “false hope.”

      Again — parents have this right already. No false hope there.

      It’s discouraging reading the comments on this blog. So far, the word Gates appears 51 times. Privacy? 32 times.

      If readers care nothing about what I say — at least care about children & inform parents they have the right to opt out of directory information. No, you won’t hear it from Leonie but it’s a fact.

      • Sheila: I already wrote that Joel Reidenberg was a good choice for this panel, as but that it is still unbalanced and could use the voice of a parent advocate — as well as an educator — especially if the topic is whether parental rights should trump educator access. There are many terrific parent activists who have successfully defeated inBloom and are now working more broadly in the area of student privacy that would do an excellent job, for example, Jason France of Louisiana and Rachael Stickland of Colorado. It is fine that you want to focus your efforts on directory information but you cannot expect everyone to jump on this particular bandwagon; especially as opting out of DI does nothing to stop inBloom or any of the other numerous vendors who are collecting and data-mining a wealth of personal student info including test scores, grades, disabilities, etc. etc. I also believe that parents have the right to speak out if they believe that their children are suffering from over-testing or if they fear that their children’s lives will be negatively affected by a data breach. I am consistent in my conviction that parents should have the right to decide what information should be shared about their children and with whom.

      • Oh yes, the left-handed compliment (no offense meant to left handed people) He’s OK but? Not a parent advocate?


        [I think it’s fine that Reidenberg was selected to participate, as he is a real expert in student privacy and how their privacy has been undermined by many of the risky practices engaged in by districts already….. And he is not a parent advocate but a legal expert. Especially if the panel is going to discuss whether “parental rights” should “trump educators’ efforts to track students” as described above, there should be someone on the panel to advocate for parents rights as well].

        I’ve already acknowledged a parent has a right to say what they want. What’s concerning is that you don’t recognize potential consequence of these disclosures proven by your retweeting & blogging the testimonies.

        The parent has the right to say what they want. And sure, you can RT it & blog it. That’s your right, too. But don’t say you’re a privacy advocate when you continue to violate a child’s privacy via RE-DISCLOSURE. And if you don’t think it was a bit too much to re-share, I question your judgement. This hasn’t happened once, Leonie. It’s your MO.

        Regarding directory information. No problem that you fail to inform parents that perverts can get their children’s contact info & harm them and they can do something to protect their kids from harm. Sure, it’s not your issue. But it affects millions of children. No problem that you don’t care about that, Leonie.

        You say you want to be a national privacy advocate in your fundraising literature. Why don’t you begin by trying to work with people.

        Good luck on the lawsuit. Which one? oh right — you have more than 1 lawsuit going at the moment. yay you. Keep raising that money for privacy under your Class Size Matters 501c3.

        I’m not surprised class size hasn’t decreased. You’re too busy suing.

    • EllenLubic permalink

      Thank you for the link to the Carol Burris column on privacy, inBloom, and the NYC law suit. Carol and I both trained at UCLA and have discussed the mentoring of Madeline Hunter. She was voted the Best Principal last year and her article is important for all of the commenters here to read. Please everyone, open this link for more insight into the discussion.

  16. So the question was posed: Should parental rights trump educators’ efforts to track students? The answer is that parents rights should trump all else when it comes to personally identified data. Please read and sign the petition Those of us in NY State will hold our elected officials responsible for protecting our children.

    • Linda permalink


      The REAL educators in our country, the life long career teachers, would not support this. Most teachers, not all, are also parents. The educator term is meaningless as they frame it.

    • Allison,
      Please know that educators (real teachers who serve children, families and communities everyday) are NOT behind the effort to track students.
      More “data” and easier access to your child’s personal information is not something we have been asking for.

    • TN Momma permalink

      Parents’ right trumps all even when the data is not personally identifiable. My children should not spend hours of their school time on surveys and demographic questions. And they should not be subjected to answering very personal questions about their families and households. The Tripod survey is a prime example of very nosey questions. If someone wants to know my education level or the number of rooms in my home, ASK ME, not my child. By the way, the Tripod survey retains this very personal information in it’s national database and I was told, not even the school system get access to it. So, why is it being collected? For what purpose?

    • I agree with the teachers here, real educators do not want to gather more data…not they way they are proposing. It is not mentioned too often here but how the heck do you think they get all this data? Who puts it into the machine in the beginning? No teacher wants to be sitting at a computer/tablet all day typing in ‘little Johnny’s’ data points. It would require hours of a teachers week to get all the data they want collected into the system. One vendor I met with at a SLC/inBloom camp showed me an app that a teacher could use during the day to keep track of how ‘on task’ a student was. If a student seemed to be distracted, running around, bothering other students…the teacher could just note it quickly with this app. NOTE IT QUICKLY…spare me…I can’t note anything quickly on 30 distracted, rambunctious second graders, and I’m supposed to do this all day? With inBloom and all it’s vendors all teachers would do all day is enter data…we just wouldn’t have the time to teach…so trust me, no real teacher would ever want this inBloom/millions of vendors business (and as a parent I’m really glad my kids are done with public school…now I can start worrying about my future grandchildren).

      • 2old2tch permalink

        When I was “tracking” behavior on some intervention while I was supporting a general ed class, I had a horrible time staying up to date because those pesky kids kept asking me for help and interrupting my tic making! Now in the old days, we used pencil and paper and in most low budget district we still would. I still can’t see that poking at a handle tech device would be any less disrupting to the flow of a class than my clipboard. It used to be okay to observe a kid and make a judgement like most teachers do. I wonder if they would want to upload all my intervention data, too.

  17. John Young permalink

    Reblogged this on Transparent Christina and commented:
    EWA have been the primary example of being seduced by the reformers. They are seemingly unable to critically look at data.

  18. wdf1 permalink

    Was Edward Snowden unavailable to participate as a balancing skeptic on the panel?

  19. Lisa smith permalink

    As a long time educator who is concerned about student privacy, I have watched the issue of massive data collection with interest. I, too, taught as a data-informed, not data-driven teacher. As the country has moved more and more toward data collection and analysis, I have used programs to analyze student data. But honestly, these have provided me with virtually no new useful information. When I hand-graded student tests, I learned far more about individual student strengths and weaknesses. I never needed statistics to know where my students were in comparison with where I wanted them to be. In-class discussions and homework were more valuable than a computer-generated graph.

    And the concern about the amount of data being aggregated is major–why in the world would anyone need over four hundred bits of information on any child? As an earlier commentator mentioned, recent revelations of NSA programs, the hacks of debit and credit card information, etc. show the likelihood of this information being stolen. After all, isn’t this information supposedly protected by state-of-the-art encryption and security protocols? The best way to protect this information is to NOT aggregate it. Even if there is an inadvertent disclosure of some information, it would be far less damaging than what can happen with this massive system. It also prevents potential misuse by the disclosure to a third-party vendor (whether legal or not). Honestly, there is nothing that your system can do to help me or any of my colleagues in the classroom–even if we had the time or the means to query this behemoth.

    • Linda permalink

      Exactly and the best way to avoid giving any data is to opt out…check for your state guidelines from united opt out here….do not feed the beast and it DIES, check the toolbar at the top:

    • ” When I hand graded tests, I learned far more about individual student strengths and weaknesses. I never needed statistics to know where my students were in comparison with where I wanted them to be. In-class discussions and homework were more valuable than a computer-generated graph.”


      • “Honestly, these have provided me with virtually no new useful information. When I hand-graded student tests, I learned far more about individual student strengths and weaknesses. I never needed statistics to know where my students were in comparison with where I wanted them to be.”

        Agreed Lisa and Ang.

        To see how teacher-educators-currently-in-the-classroom actually assess their students in real time, go sit in a classroom for a day. Don’t take anything with you but your ears and eyes. Leave behind your computer, phone and all other buzzing, clicking, binging devices.Then go back to your webinars and research agendas. And when you start to think you have the answers, go back to the classroom again.

  20. Hello,
    Just little ol me.
    School teacher.

    Did anyone ever ask us if we needed “more data” in order to better serve our students?
    Were teachers, parents clamoring for more access to more data?
    Not that I have ever heard.
    Or have we been asking for smaller class size, more nurses and social workers, after school programs, lab equipment, etc.?
    Do most teachers put much stock in all these test scores ( data) anyway?
    No tell me again why the money and time spent on data mining and tracking student ” data” is the best use of our limited resources.

    • Linda permalink

      Hi Ang….lowly classroom teacher here, too. Standing and clapping for you in my ‘lil ole kitchen while making dinner. Share the opt out guide with parents, colleagues, friends and neighbors. They got nothing without the lame test scores:

    • Lisa Smith permalink

      I’m with you 100%! We teachers know what we need; ask us! Quit wasting millions and billions of much needed money on what the profiteers and politicians decide we need without ever asking us, or even paying attention when we shout it from the crumbling rooftop.

  21. Garrett: on the inBloom privacy page it says: ““inBloom Contractor” means each contractor of inBloom, Inc that may be required to handle PII in the course of providing customer-directed support of inBloom…. inBloom, Inc Contractors are permitted to download information from inBloom or other sources of PII on to local or portable devices or storage only when necessary or as directed by a School District or State Educational Agency…” If this doesn’t refer to Wireless Generation, which other contractors will gain access to the PII data?

    Also, you still didn’t answer my question. If Wireless doesn’t need access to any PII to build and maintain inBloom’s operating system, why do any private vendors need this access — including those providing the data dashboards? Why can’t vendors simply offer the software and allow districts to enter in the data themselves, as is the current practice?

  22. Mr. Suhm, I’m not buying what your selling. Those of us in Seattle know the long reach and power of Bill Gates and he didn’t allow his foundation to create a filing cabinet.
    What’s also interesting is the latest agreement between the WA state ed department (OSPI) and the Seattle Times. The Times is to get access to a lot of data on Seattle Public school students and teachers (PII cleared but, in the end, that doesn’t really matter). Why would a for-profit entity get access to student data? In a name, the Gates Foundation. The Foundation gave the Times a grant to do “reporting” on ed reform ideas. And then suddenly the Times is some kind of ed entity that OSPI can share student data with?
    This is coming to a town near you folks.
    I believe Bill Gates to be a hypocrite. He will allow any kind of data, any kind of testing on OTHER people’s children but certainly not his own. He doesn’t even know if any of this will work (and has said so publicly). His own Gates officer called children “end products” of the ed system like they are widgets.
    I’m signed up to listen to the webinar but yes, I’ll take everything said with a grain of salt.

    • Linda permalink

      Correct Melissa, the genius Gates said, “We won’t know if this STUFF works for ten years.” Yeah, he said stuff.

      Who made him king to experiment on our children? Sacrifice your own children, Bill, and leave our kids alone.

      • Please let me know when Bill puts his kid’s school records ” on the cloud”!

  23. EllenLubic permalink

    Thanks Mercedes for this most important discussion. Your research is excellent and your persistent support of public education is so welcome by educators all over the nation.

    As a public policy educator, I make the following points.

    1. I agree that Sheila Kaplan is confusing…after reading her comments here, and reading her link to herself, I am left wondering what she is about.

    2. Given that Rupert Murdoch owns most of the world’s media and can control so much of it including the Wall Street Journal, far too much power for one person to have, and that he owns News Corp., inBloom, Amplify with partners and subordinates Gates and Klein, and that his vast British media firm was caught data mining and hacking phones and materials, and his execs including his son are under indictment now, and that he is a resident in the US, not a citizen, why would American business people want to be in partnership with him unless they are motivated by greed? Where is the DoJ and what are they doing about him? He commented about a year ago in an op-ed in the NY Times that American public education is the great new free market opportunity for investment, and lo and behold, this titan is proving it.

    The Amplify tablets with Klein put in charge, have been failures, and the inBloom ‘cloud’ surely can be hacked by the experts in the Ukraine and around the world who only weeks ago hacked into Target, and also the Bank of America, etc., which are major corporations with ability to have the latest and best safeguards against hacking.

    3. Since the inBloom ‘cloud’ has all student data including their Social Security numbers, it is an easy process for any hacker to extend this info to get parents Social Security numbers as well.
    Even those who might be both child and economic predators.

    4. And add to all this the info above that crazycrawfish gives us as to the contractual ability of selling this data to secondary sources which may not have the restrictions that Kaplan and the inBloom supporters claim, it is a short jump to see how Wall Street can use all this info. The hedge fund managers such at Tilson and others who are already publicizing their classes to teach how to invest in and profit from this new public school investment opportunity, must be drooling.

    5. As to opt out. This seems a major farce since this FERPA info is not widely promoted and most parents do not have a clue about how to protect their children and themselves from all the free market profiteering. Actually, most of the American public has little access to anything to do with privatizing public education and this is planned and nurtured ignorance by those who control media and only spout the glory of Rheeform and the Broad Academy. They, like Fox News, scream about the wonderful gifts flowing to the poor students of America by the billionaire foundations such as Apple,/Jobs, Gates, Broad, Walton Family, Koch, Anschutz, Petersen, and others, as they in reality attempt to shut down the voices of true informants and educators like Mercedes.

    Would that print media and television would publish the facts presented by Mercedes Deutsch and Diane Ravitsch, and Crawfish, and Chalkface, other careful honest informed professional educators and reporters, every day.

    • I don’t know why you find me confusing. btw. I didn’t post a link to myself. I’m not big on self-promotion.

      • 2old2tch permalink

        Because your comments on the blog don’t seem to match your press.

      • Perhaps it’s the opt-out that is confusing?

      • It’s your playing to the middle that is “confusing.”

      • You’re a researcher. I look at policy. I don’t play to the middle.

        Time to wake up & accept the fact that data is going to be collected & most likely won’t be all opt-in. If you took the time look at twitter there have been days (5 or more) of OBJECTIVE questioning & discussion w Garrett Suhm not only by myself. I’d like to make a storify so those who are interested can follow the discussion & hopefully learn more. They’ll at least get the facts.

        I’ve learned a lot. I know most on this blog want me to say inBloom is bad. I’ve been analyzed, scrutinized & insulted on this thread by the same people on Diane Ravitch’s blog & twitter.

        You’re praised as a researcher. Research me. Maybe your conclusion will still be I play to the middle. I’m definitely not fringe left or right.

        Perhaps that’s what you find puzzling. I’m objective & a problem solver. If you’re still confused I don’t what to say, Mercedes.

        These are my final words on this blog.

        It’s your blog — you get the last word. I hope your final words are written after you find out more about me & my work. I’m honest, trustworthy & sincere. I’m not looking for a feather in my cap.

        Your findings may differ. No problem there w me. I know who I am & will continue to look at policies about information & management of data.

      • Sheila, I’m not confused with you. That’s why I wrote the word in quotes.

        You’re fine with inBloom, data collection, data sharing. You once were not, and now you are.

        Your viewpoint is that others should suck it up and accept that the data will be collected.

        You can go along. I will not.

  24. EllenLubic permalink

    Forgot, and apologize, to add as prime sources of accurate information, Leonie Haimson, and Bruce of course, who do so much to protect the rights of students, parents, and teachers. A public thank you Leonie for all the amazing things you do to protect universal education in America.

    • thanks Ellen – no apology needed. One clarification to the above — since the fiasco in Louisiana, inBloom has said it will not accept student SS# in their data “store.”

  25. Reblogged this on Reflections of a Second-career Math Teacher and commented:
    As I’ve posted before, as a parent, I am against any massive, centralized database of our children. While there are many benefits to local collection and storage of subsets of this data, parents MUST be contacted for their explicit approval before this level of data centralization is permitted.

  26. EllenLubic permalink

    Thanks for that info, Leonie…did not know that they stopped demanding SS numbers. Of course, like the Nigerian scammers, all hackers need is a name, address, date of birth, to get new SS cards leading to all sorts other ‘pirating’ thefts like bank accounts, credit cards, etc.

    • yes; and not to minimize identity theft; but children can get new SS# but can never get back their reputation, once their disciplinary/disability/health issues are breached and released to the public on the internet.

    • They can get the same information from directory information unless you opt-out. You have the right to opt-out. Not the same opt out as being discussed on this blog. You already have this right as a parent but aren’t being informed.

      • Sheila, I’ve been asking this question and haven’t seen an answer from you yet – forgive me if it’s out there somewhere – I’ve been home with a sick child the past few days and got lost in notifications. “opting-out” of directory information is not the same as “opting-out”: of providing personally identifiable information, correct? in other words, isn’t there a distinction between “directory information” and PII??? I think there is. The small font notice buried on the school calendar is NOT going to stop the state from sharing PII –

  27. LLC1923 permalink

    Duncan has the audacity to misuse OUR tax dollars and work with Gates to undermine FERPA for the purpose of funneling state and federal contracts to inBloom owned by Rupert Murdoch$.

    Murdoch$, Klein$, Coleman$, King$, Duncan$, Gates$, News Corp. shareholders$, NY Regents, etc. have overstepped their bounds by circumventing parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, school boards, and legislators in all aspects of the common corrupt core and student data uploads to inBloom without permission. These are the same for-profit reform schemers who continually bash public schools and teachers.

    Wireless Generation’s NY ARIS was a catastrophe and failed to improve anything. Amplify’s inBloom is a failure. The Wireless Generation/Amplify/inBloom brands are toxic. The profiteers change the database names in hope parents and teachers will not catch on to the money making scheme.

    Name one parent who would hand over children’s information to Murdoch and the News Corp Shareholders. Name one teacher who would prefer inBloom over smaller class sizes with professional treatment. Name one teacher who asked for the million dollar for-profit common core scripts, inBloom and engageNY.

    All parents and teachers must read carefully the nineteen page document available on the engageNY website at the link below. There are about 400 USELESS data points being collected by News Corp. on schools, districts, teachers, parents, families, and students WITHOUT permission.

    Click to access engageny-portal-data-dictionary.pdf

    • Elizabeth permalink

      Amen. The bottom line is: how does Arne’s education policy, RTTT , intend to improve the public education of our nations children? CCSS , data collection, teacher evaluations are all intertwined and undeniably influenced primarily by the Gates Foundation. The goal is to promote “personalized learning .” Who decided that the Gates Foundation’s “solution” for fixing public education by implementing “personalized learning” which requires big data and eventually an interactive device for every public school student will improve student learning ? Who is defining student learning? The current administration ‘s education policy is an egregious example of policy written in a vacuum by special interests who intend to use public tax dollars to implement an experiment on public school students.

  28. Mark Twainfive permalink

    Money will always eventually win in the end. It is the American Way! Chase, Rockefeller, and Carnegie would be so proud of the work of Gates, Zutterburg, Broad, Duncan, the Waltons, and the others who Rule through the use of Money. Back to the Future. Are we in a time machine and it is again 1890? Maybe we can talk with Edward Bellamy and advice him about editing his Great Book, Looking Backword! The ending needs a little adjustment.

  29. A few weeks ago, Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia held a press conference to decry the latest reading and math test results. He said, “We should be ashamed of the results.” He of course took no responsibility for the corporate education reform, which he supports, that has been running the Philadelphia schools since the state took over the schools in 2001 to set them up for privatization.

    In the course of his remarks, he said we should make no mistake, that students are being tracked from third grade for who is most likely to succeed and who will end up in prison. He said, “This is not an urban myth.”

    If students are to have their entire childhood tracked and stored in computers, and then be set on a path based on this data, we have entered a Brave New World.

    In Philadelphia, the Philadelphia School Partnership, which is overseeing the privatization of Philadelphia’s public schools is about to institute a Universal Enrollment system. This system will direct parents to the public, charter, or parochial school that is the “best fit” based on the student’s data. So much for “choice” which was the main selling point of charters to parents when they were first established.

  30. LLC1923 permalink

    We need FOIA requests for Arne’s multi-million dollar no-bid contracts funneled to Wireless Generation as corporate “CEO” in Chicago Public Schools.

  31. Garrett,

    What is wrong with policy makers really listening to the majority of parent voices in NY State and across the nation for that matter?

    Do you think the state really should override parents concerned about their children’s privacy, parents who pay school and state taxes, and parents who vote?

    I don’t understand the disconnect. Please advise . . . . .

    • LLC1923 permalink

      It seems Garrett and the corporate reform profiteers think the “fix is in” and will continue to violate privacy rights of millions of students, families and teachers. They did not anticipate the level of pushback they are receiving and are clueless about how to respond. Parents are calling legislators and attorneys with complaints since King and the NY Regents are inBloom’s front line/center court cheerleaders. It’s time for the corporate reformers to jump ship onto a lifeboat.

  32. Reblogged this on Blue Hat Movement and commented:
    Fantastic research and commentary. Over and over again what I run into in the state of NC is that there are simply not enough who grasp that this kind of thing IS what Common Core is all about. It isn’t about a better teaching standard. From top to bottom Common Core is about the intersection point of the free market economy and public education…turning students into a guaranteed source of revenue through data, test taking, and strategic marketing placements in every community.

  33. Garrett are these articles wrong in their assertion that data collecting and mining will financially benefit vendors who seek to monetize private student data through the creation of personalized learning products…

    “But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

    In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.

    Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.

    Entrepreneurs can’t wait.

    “This is going to be a huge win for us,” said Jeffrey Olen, a product manager at CompassLearning, which sells education software.”

    “Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools, he urged the crowd. If they’re as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They’ll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.

    …Indeed, investors of all stripes are beginning to sense big profit potential in public education.”

  34. Just a mom here of two public school kids, I would not want any information about them shared with cloud. Their teachers keep data and report on report card and then the principal and guidance counselors advise accordingly. No reason for InBloom, it is of no help to them or me. So my kids make a bad choice or decision and it ends on on InBloom and hence their college app or job app? No Thanks! It’s called privacy.

    • Linda permalink

      Teachers and parents unite and support each other. We are the REAL educators and we say NO!

    • Parents and teachers unite.
      We neither want nor need more access to ” data” !

    • patriciahale permalink

      I see another bad scenario. Your kid gets his driver’s permit and the insurance company buys data from the cloud. Your son failed algebra II, so the insurance company thinks your kid is a risk, and gives you exorbitant rates. Insurance companies check credit scores, what’s to stop them from checking student data?

  35. From the likes of the comments and debate, looks like real steam you are picking up! Cheering you all on from afar.

  36. Garret, I get your position, and I don’t know you but already I know you’re a bulldogs fan, like fast bikes, enjoy hanging by the lake,and play the bass. I guess if my kids are on SM everyone will know a lot about them too, but not their grades, disabilities (if any come up), discipline records attendance….

  37. Debbie Sachs permalink

    So much for the CCSS preparing our children to be college and career ready. Looks like some of these same proponents promoting their various data bases just took a sledge to public school children’ s chances of getting into college or landing a job. God help these children if they should falter, be imperfect, or make a mistake that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.

    This is a sad day in America when children have to miss school to travel to their state capital to appeal to adults in positions of power – namely the Superintendent of Education and BESE to make responsible decisions with respect to their futures and their safety.

  38. LLC1923 permalink

    Lawsuits will be filed on grounds that News Corp, Gates, and the USDOE worked together to develop a profit-making data collection scheme for inBloom and other entities to exploit children as cash cows and take advantage of the captive public education work force as free labor.

  39. Garrett AND Sheila Kaplan,

    I am compelled to pose this question again, to which you have not responded.

    Have you chosen not to respond, or have you not viewed the question?

    What is wrong with policy makers really listening to the majority of parent voices in NY State and across the nation for that matter?

    Do you think the state really should override parents concerned about their children’s privacy, parents who pay school and state taxes, and parents who vote?

    Do you think there is systemic disconnect here? Please advise . . . . .

    • A: Do we know it’s a majority of parents? No, we don’t. It’s a majority of people on this blog & other blogs that are obsessed w Gates, billionaires, millionaires but not privacy. Gates still mentioned more times on this one post than privacy.

      B: Policy makers are listening.

      C: Do I think there is a systemic disconnect? I don’t know what you mean. However, I do think parents, children & teachers deserve answers to questions from people qualified to answer them & provide guidance as well as policy development.

      See CPO for Education Act

      Click to access CPOforED-2-01.pdf

      I’m finished answering questions.

      • Sheila,

        I truly appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. I am not clear about what your role is in all of this. Are you an employee of inBloom? Do you sit on any boards of organizations from which the board members of inBloom belong to?

        Please don’t be discouraged from keeping a steady dialogue, and above all, don’t feel attacked. Discourse is good for everyone, and it helps people become educated and make educated decisions.

      • I have nothing to do with inBloom other than the questions I have asked on twitter & with their attorney early on before they had even written a FERPA policy w conversed w people in a question answering position. I am not a board member. I have no connection. I have an MS in Information Policy & Records Management so data collection, management & policies are my area of expertise.

        I have been looking at student privacy for years before inBloom (2006) and the LDS since 2004.

        I only commented on this blog responding to offensive comments about Joel Reidenberg.

        I am not hurt by being attacked. I have little to say or hear from people on this blog. The comments are always the same. The only thing that changes is the object of their discontent.

        Sorry, nothing personal. The same people on this blog are on other blogs & they say the same thing over & over again as I have spent time working to help form policies about data privacy.

        If you want to know more I’m easy to contact. Or follow me on twitter.

        My opinions stated above will incite more conversation on this & other blogs but I won’t see it. I responded to your question because I am a courteous person.

      • Garrett, I still have not heard from you.

        Have you not seen my question, or do you feel uncomfortable answering it? Sheila has convinced me that she was not uncomfortable answering it.

  40. monarda permalink

    Joel Reidenberg Microsoft Visiting Professor ! No conflict of interest there, move along, please.

  41. monarda permalink

    Get your kids ready to be blacklisted and subject to character assassination.

  42. monarda permalink

    Am I to understand that the children of the one percent in prep and other private schools won’t be subject to this kind of surveillance and thought control?

  43. monarda permalink

    If this stuff is so good, let the one percent experiment on their own children first, like the pioneering scientists who injected themselves with their own vaccines.

  44. monarda permalink

    Obviously, over-riding parents’ concerns is the whole point of this exerci$$e.

    • Garrett Suhm permalink

      Hey everyone, hope this clears up some confusion and answers many of the questions that have been asked.

      inBloom is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a valuable resource to teachers, students and families, to improve education. We solve a common technology issue facing school districts today: the inability of electronic instructional tools used in classrooms to work in coordination with (or “talk to”) one another.

      – We provide a secure data service to state and district customers

      – Our software is open and implements open standards (Ed-Fi)

      – States and districts determine what student information is stored, how this information is used, and who gets access to the records

      – inBloom will never sell student information, nor will we share it with others unless directed to do so by a state or local customer.

      – Amplify originally developed the software. They are no longer involved and will never have access to student data

      – All data is encrypted, and PII is encrypted twice

      – Our servers are in FEDRAMP-approved data centers that are SOC 3 compliant

      Hope this helps,



      • LLC1923 permalink


        Beginning in 2015, what will inBloom charge states per student for use of its cloud based repository? What are the projected costs for New York. I’m curious about the costs, since inBloom is registered as a non-profit. Even $1.00 per student in NY will generate multi-millions for the “non-profit” inBloom.

        Documents are available via Google searches by your associates that undermine your position.

      • gitapik permalink

        I’ve taught teachers and students how to use many different forms of technology. They are all fantastic tools. They’re also subject to disruptions and failures. Expensive to begin with, the maintenance of said hardware and software can be extremely disruptive to schools both in terms of budgets and unit/lesson plans and implementation.

        Then there’s the learning curve that’s involved in getting all teachers on board with the technology and fitting it into an already full workday which requires hands on teaching of the kids.

        I always begin my workshops by advising teachers to use tech as a part of a lesson plan and to have a backup in real time, in case the technology is not working correctly, if at all.

        inBloom, as high tech as it is, could easily fall under the same category. Not to mention the abuses (legal and illegal) that can easily occur. I don’t see how anyone can guarantee that it will not be subject to failures and hacking. Along with the other trappings associated with it, inBloom will divert money away from badly needed reparations, teachers salaries, and proven resources/curriculum that are already in place in our public school systems.

        I appreciate your input, here, Garrett. And I’m sure you take great pride in your work, which has definite value to it. My personal opinion is that this “crisis” and the “urgent necessity” for the implantation of inBloom, CCSS, VAM, etc has been artificially manufactured. The selling point that “there’s not a moment to lose” (in instituting these changes and reforms) raises a red flag in my world. I believe that a series of televised debates on the subject of education reform, with impartial fact finders monitoring them and a fair media coverage, should be conducted before committing ourselves to such a large scale endeavor as what we’re seeing today.

      • Garrett Suhm permalink

        Yes, we are a self-sustaining non-profit that charges a small fee for operating costs. We are continually working to drive these costs down and pass the savings along to our customers.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Who Owns the Data? | Stop Common Core in Washington State
  2. Explosive Reaction to Schneider Post on Data-Mining and Student Privacy | Diane Ravitch's blog
  3. Education Blogger Mercedes Schneider warns: Beware of Data Sharingcheerleaders Offering Webinars - Wait What?
  4. Beware of Data Sharing Cheerleaders Offering Webinars #stopcommoncore #ccss | Stop Common Core Illinois

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