PAA Action News
Oct. 10, 2013

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PAA Action Alert

Tell USDE not to data mine our children
There was a lot going on this week around student data privacy (see below), so we thought this might be a good time to raise our voices at the US Department of Education, since they are asking for public comments on a proposal to track massive amounts of data on a set of children who were kindergarteners in the 2010-11 school year.

So far, all the posted comments are strongly against the federal government collecting this data. But are they listening? I mean, listening to our voices, not in on our calls.... 

Here's where you go to submit a comment. The comment period ends October 24.
PAA and PAAers in the News

Major NYT article on data privacy features PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson

From Leonie's e-mail:

Please see the New York Times article from the Sunday Business Section focused on inBloom and their plans to share private student data with vendors: "Deciding Who Sees Students' Data," by Natasha Singer, New York Times, Oct. 6, 2013,

"New York State has already uploaded data on 90 percent of 2.7 million public school and charter students - data stripped of identifiers like students' names - into inBloom; state education officials plan to upload a complete set soon, including names."

Leonie Haimson
"But New York parents have no say in the matter, said Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, a nonprofit group that has been the leading challenger of inBloom."

" 'We are officially the worst state in the country when it comes to student privacy,' she said, speaking of New York. Educators are naturally excited about the potential for new tools to improve learning. But the Jeffco controversy is a reminder that it can be easy to leap at new and unproven technologies before considering potential risks."

This article is focused primarily on the successful battle in Jefferson County, Colorado by parent activists to secure the right of parents to opt out of inBloom; something which NY State refuses to grant public school parents.  We are the only state in the country which is allowing neither parents nor districts to opt out of inBloom.  We expect another NYT piece later this week focused on NYS Education Department's plan, but meanwhile please forward this article to your Regent and State Senator with a cover note, asking them to require the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to pull out of inBloom and support S.5930 and S.5932.

More on Philly parents rising to meet the school crisis
challenge from PAA founding member Helen Gym

PAA-Philadelphia affiliate Parents United for Public Education has been leading a citywide effort to get parents to file formal complaints with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

According to state law, the Secretary of Education must investigate each complaint and correct any deficiencies that may be found. Parents have filed over 700 complaints documenting potential violations of the school code around overcrowding, split grades, lack of arts, and almost no access to guidance counselors, school librarians and nurses.

Parents United has been working with local media organizations and City Council members to promote the effort through

Helen was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer,  "Hundreds of letters decry problems at underfunded city schools":
Helen Gym


Gym said a website was created to encourage more parents to outline how their children are being short-changed this year. The site is As a result of the district's financial crisis, schools have fewer teachers, aides and administrators. Many schools lack full-time guidance counselors, and itinerant counselors may be serving as many as seven different schools. Gym said the 260 cases "were collected in less than two weeks time by parents all across the city who are starting to document - not just worries or fears - but actual harm that is being done to students."


Read more on Parents United's site here.

Helen was also cited as a mentor in an inspiring story about Philadelphia student organizer Wei Chen, who recently won a $50,000 fellowship to pursue peace activism. Both worked on addressing bias harassment at a local high school that eventually resulted in a groundbreaking federal civil rights lawsuit and settlement on a schools' responsibility to create a safe school climate.
Join us!

If you share
our overall goals of progressive, positive education reform and more parent input in education policy making, we invite you to affiliate with us if you are an existing group, or to form a new PAA chapter. The more of us there are, the stronger our voice will be at every level. Here's how!
PAA Chapter and Affiliate News

More on student data privacy


PAA Chicago affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education joined with the More Than a Score coalition and  several other local and national groups to send letters of concern to the Illinois state school superintendent and the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools challenging the proposed roll-out of inBloom data mining in Chicago and across the state. The group's press release and links to the letters are posted here on the PAA web site.


With lots of help from PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, PURE leader Julie Woestehoff prepared a one-page parent fact sheet on the inBloom threat, which you can download here. More Than a Score also prepared a background piece covering the national, state and local situation, "More Testing, Less Privacy??"         


Groups that signed on to the letters included Parents Across America, PURE, More Than a Score, the Chicago Teachers' Union, ACLU of Illinois, and the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood.     
PAA Blog Highlights

Keep up with our blog for more news and commentary on public education from the parents' point of view.

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