In this issue:
1) Thursday Movie Screening of Education, Inc.; For Profit. For Kids?
2) Three questions to ask at your child’s back to school night.
3) A new opportunity to measure school success

Education Inc. Denver Film Screening

Thursday, August 27th, Doors open at 4:30
Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway St. Denver CO 80203
See the trailer here:

Data Protection Questions to Ask at Your Child’s Back to School Night

(Modified. Originally posted as 3 questions in Huffington Post by Jim Steyer CEO, Common Sense Media, Posted: 09/19/2014)

Back to school night is a great opportunity to engage with your child’s teachers to learn more about their academic and classroom goals for the year. It’s also an opportunity for parents to ask questions about the technology their child will use in class this year, and how the data that is gathered about their child will be protected.

Increasing amounts of student and family data is being collected and stored online by schools today. Doing so provides many advantages to educators in terms of being able to efficiently gather and access information that enables them to better know students, communicate with them and track their progress. At the same time, high-profile data breaches are seemingly in the news every day and serve as a reminder that parents need to be active participants in conversations about information protection. Teachers and principals may not have all of the answers to your questions at their fingertips. But by raising some of these important questions about data privacy, you will let them know that it’s an issue that is a priority for you and should be for school administrators and teachers as well.

Below is a list of questions you can ask your child’s teacher or principal on Back to School night to help make the data collection transparent:

1) Who is gathering data on my child? Is there a list of the education technology providers and their security and retention policies that is available to parents?
Everything from attendance records to discipline records to family financial information is now frequently tracked online and stored in the cloud. Knowing which companies are accumulating this data can help parents hold these companies accountable when it comes to protecting children’s privacy. It’s also important to know not only what kinds of data is being collected, but how the data is secured and what happens to that data once it is no longer needed for educational purposes. [Watch this short video to see how student data is collected and shared and this shorter video here: ]

2) Which web sites and apps will be used in the classroom or recommended for use at home and what are their privacy policies? How do they use and share students’ personal information?
Parents have the right to know who is gathering data about their child. Schools should know what kind of technology a teacher will be using and help ensure the data being collected is used for its intended purpose.

3) What information is being collected? What policies does the school or district have in place to ensure my student’s personal information is being used solely for educational purposes?
With sensitive information such as student health data and dietary information being collected at school and stored in the cloud, it’s difficult to keep track of what kinds of information is being gathered about your child. Protections for this data vary widely from district to district. Be sure to ask what your child’s school is doing to make sure no information about your child falls into the wrong hands.

4) What options do I have to stop this data collection on my child?
There are several points of data collection and sharing within the school system. Some you may opt out of, others you may not.

A. Refuse the school directory. When registering your child for school, consider NOT allowing your child’s information to be shared in the school directory. Here’s why: it’s not just name and phone number; it is much more and is left open-ended. Also, anything in the school directory CAN BE SHARED WITH COMPANIES, OUTSIDE OF THE SCHOOL. To quote directly from school policy: ” Directory information includes, but is not limited to, the student’s name, photograph, audio and/or video recordings, major field of study, grade level, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, honors and awards received, and the most recent educational agency or institution attended. The District may disclose directory information without written consent…” Use this form to refuse the school directory:

B. Ask your school to not include medical and mental health data in your child’s education record.
Most things in education today are switching to embedded social emotional learning: hidden data collection which creates a psychological profile of your child. All that information is put into the child’s education record, stored in a cloud, and shared. Remember that medical and mental health information in a child’s education record can be shared without your consent and is not covered by HIPPA rules, that is why it can be shared outside of school without parental knowledge.

C. Standardized tests collect more than just academic scores; they collect behavioral data which is shared outside of school.
Ask for Paper pencil alternative. In Colorado, a recent law (HB15-1323) says that school children CAN take these standardized tests with paper and pencil, rather than online, thus reducing the amount of hidden meta data, and algorithms used to collect psychological and other data that is shared.
No penalty if your child refuses the test. HB1323 law also says that children may REFUSE to take the state mandated standardized tests, without penalty to the child. Your child will be given an alternate activity at school and your child will receive non-participation that will not affect his/her grade. Parents may submit this test refusal in writing. You may use this refusal template as a guide:

Alternative Ways to Measure Success:

Each year each school prepares a Unified Improvement Plan (UIP) which is submitted to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). The UIP is a template provided by CDE as a way for schools to demonstrate the management of their schools. The UIP template is designed to meet state, federal, and program accountability requirements. In the past, the primary data used to support a schools performance has been the state mandated tests.

This year we have a unique opportunity. The traditional test data will not be available and therefore schools have the opportunity to use local assessments & information to build their case for demonstrating their performance. (Local control & accountability). In addition, all school ratings are put on hold until July 2017. (HB15-1323)

Advocates across the state have pushed hard to achieve this opportunity for school executives to demonstrate that they can indeed provide adequate management of schools at the local level and therefore move closer to removing state & federal overreach.

I am asking each of you to encourage your local school executives to begin a dialogue among their peers to come up with best practices for completing the UIP.

I am in the process of reaching out to advocates in an effort to help collect information on UIP preparation for this year.

I received this today from a school executive:

CDE has shared with districts that local assessments and alternative measures should be used. Great opportunity to show that other data is valuable!

Why wait for CDE/CSI to dictate to school executives?
Why not present your own body of evidence based on your own best practices?

Please start the conversation.

Citizen support will be necessary as our school executives begin to exercise the right of local control. Let’s make sure they have the support needed. Parents, students & taxpayers must be part of the conversation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Link to CDE site regarding UIP:
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Bethany Drosendahl