Schools Withdrawing from RTT Should Submit Their Resolution Into Evidence!

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More NY schools are withdrawing from RTT or are considering withdrawing at the outset. It is wonderful to see districts taking this step. That said, I truly hope each of the districts who choose to withdraw will take it one step further. I approached my district to do the following and they agreed. If any of your districts have also chosen to withdraw from RTT please encourage them to send copy of their Resolution to be submitted as evidence at the 11/20/13 hearing. Modify the below to suit your needs and email the BOE and Super asking them to send the Res to Albany:

As you know, on October 29, 2013, Spackenkill BOE convened in an emergency session and then issued a resolution to withdraw from RTT believing it to be in the best interests of the school district and members of its community.

So far Spackenkill, Pleasantville, Lynbrook, Hastings on Hudson, Mount Pleasant, Pocantico Hills, Pelham, Rye Neck and Hyde Park have withdrawn from RTT due to student privacy concerns. Many other districts are following suit. Pearl River, Comsewogue, Carmel, Yorktown and Elmsford School District have withdrawn from RTT this week. Arlington is presently considering this as well. This speaks volumes.

The BOE voted to protect student privacy in light of parent/taxpayer concerns over student privacy. Part of that discussion and the reasoning to support it involved taking a stand and making a statement against NYSED for over reaching and, in one BOE Member’s opinion, to push back against perceived “blackmail.”

“NYSED is working with social service agencies, workforce development organizations, health agencies, criminal justice agencies, and community organizations to coordinate all parts of education, from early childhood through graduate school. The goal is to create a P-20 system that will follow individuals from birth through adulthood and provide the support needed to improve education and other life outcomes.”

“There currently is a lack of shared knowledge among all the agencies and stakeholders who are responsible for children and adults. Therefore, the essential bases of this P-20 coordination must be: the seamless sharing of information through a multi-institutional database, and follow-up actions developed through an analysis of that information. NYSED’s major tool will be a continuously updated electronic transcript that will follow an individual from early childhood through all aspects of education and into the workforce and include an “early warning system” of data indicators that will enable each agency or organization within the system to intervene early, as soon as the individual appears to need help.”

Source: (See RTTT assurance signed by former Governor Patterson and NYSED)

This is positively Orwellian!

I don’t think the BOE has many choices here. NYSED has not been forthcoming with districts and members of its community and is withholding information. The contracts show slight of hand and interpreting them is difficult due to smoke and mirrors. USDE has carved out exceptions in FERPA that undermine the legislative intent. So, what choice to schools really have?

NYSED has maintained, in conclusory form, that confidence will be maintained and student privacy is their utmost of concern. However, following the relationships and the language of contracts between the many parties involved in the data share plans, I have found one thing common – that there are more clauses that permit disclosure of PII and sharing of student data without consent then there are provisions to enforce confidentiality and efforts to prevent leaks or unintended disclosure are trivial at best. This is no coincidence, in my opinion. NYSED is putting districts in a most untenable position. There seems to be a lot of underhanded “wordsmithing” going on that NYSED, InBloom and others have not been forthcoming about thereby putting districts and students PII at risk.

On my urging, Spackenkill Superintendent Dr Lois Powell has informed me that they have agreed to forward a copy of their resolution withdrawing from RTT to Albany to be submitted as evidence at the public hearing on data mining via request for testimony – to take a stand against NYSED’s overreaching and due to student privacy concerns.

NYSED is forcing school districts, BOE Members and Superintendents across the state to make difficult choices. NYSED has put districts, parents and students in the most untenable position of having to choose between exploiting personal information in exchange for empty promises and measly funds. This is NOT acceptable.

Sending the resolution to notify Albany that enough is enough is the right thing to do. I hope other districts who have chosen to withdraw from RTT follow Spackenkill’s lead. Please share this information with school districts who have or are considering withdrawing from RTT.

Information as to the request for testimony and the public hearing on Data Mining in Albany is below for anyone else who is interested in issuing an opinion and/or testimony on this subject for consideration.

Public Hearing on Data Mining and Concerns over Student Privacy
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
10:00 A.M.
Hamilton Hearing Room B
Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor
Albany, New York
http://assembly.state.ny.us/comm/Ed/20131024/

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