Written by Jack Martins Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:57
No doubt you’ve seen the full page ads that Target recently placed in major newspapers around the nation. The massive retailer was apologizing to the 110 million customers who likely had their credit information stolen in one of the largest security breaches in retail history. If you shopped at Target before Christmas (unnamed members of my family practically lived there) then you may have been affected. By Target’s own admission, the hackers may have stolen credit and debit information from 40 million shoppers and personal data from another 70 million. Under pressure from the U.S. Attorney General’s office, they’re even offering a year of free credit monitoring to all of their customers in the hopes of mitigating the situation. Yet none of that, however well-intentioned, will fix the damage now.
This incident makes it abundantly clear that everyone is vulnerable, even billion-dollar corporations that spend millions of dollars on cyber-security and assign droves of people to the task. Unfortunately, it’s the world we live in, but it should make all of us more vigilant about sharing sensitive data. That’s why I cringe when I think of New York Education Commissioner Dr. John King’s plan to share our children’s personal data.
By way of background, as part of the ever less-popular common core initiative, Dr. King signed an agreement with InBloom, a nonprofit corporation in Atlanta. Their job is to collect student information from school districts and store it in a data cloud, supposedly making educator access easier so that it might be more effectively used for the students’ benefit, while protecting it with hopefully hack-proof encryption. The problem is they can’t and won’t promise us that it’s safe. In fact, their contract specifically states that they cannot be held liable for any data breaches.
And what data it is. The number of fields tops a mind-boggling 400. There are obvious things like attendance, grades, courses, learning disabilities and the like. But The New York Times reports that it includes fields that are, in my opinion, absolutely intrusive like: family relationships (“foster parent” or “father’s significant other”) and enrollment changes (“withdrawn due to illness” or “leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident”.) There are even disciplinary fields like “perpetrator,” “victim” and “principal watch list.” Controversial labels to be sure. And while a parent may want educators to know these details, why would an unaccountable, third-party, commercial vendor who has no direct contact with their children have it?
You guessed it. Somewhere, somehow, someone is making a buck. InBloom’s plan is to sell access to this enormous stockpile of data to vendors who would then design and market customized education software, apps for smart phones, and even video games to those very same schools, parents and children. They claim that data-driven education will eventually be a help to our children —and that may be so—but at what cost? Is our children’s privacy worth it?
To be sure, districts already share data for very specific tasks but in no way should that be interpreted as blanket authorization to turn such specific data over to a private vendor. It’s wrong. As I’ve told my daughters time and again—once something is posted online, it’s out there forever, period.
Unfortunately, nowhere in this process do we, as parents, have a voice. Commissioner King’s anemic response was to suspend implementation of the program until March. This does nothing to address our privacy concerns but is a disingenuous attempt to delay action with the hope that it will all blow over. It won’t.
We are charged with protecting the welfare of our children and we will. That’s why I’m co-sponsoring a bill in the Senate that will make it illegal for New York school districts to share this data without first obtaining parental consent. I encourage you to stay informed and engaged and together we’ll prevent our kids from becoming the next “Target.”
Saturday, 27 September 2014 00:00
Old classmates reignited friendships and shared memories of their teenage years as the Hicksville High School Class of 1964 came together recently to celebrate their 50th reunion at the Holiday Inn in Plainview.
Among the attendees was Bob Cheeseman who met his wife, Lorraine (Kirwan) in middle school. They were serious throughout high school and married soon after. Bob said, “I enlisted in high school and went into the Air Force. I did 30 years active Air Force and another 15 after that. I retired in 2010 as a Brigadier General. After I retired, my wife received a certificate from the Governor of Texas and was designated a Yellow Rose of Texas.”
Friday, 26 September 2014 00:00
The Common Core results are in and overall the district performed reasonably well according to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, Marianne Litzman at Sept. 17's school board meeting.
“The students in grades 3-8 performed wonderfully in some areas but there were also some challenges,” said Litzman. “Overall as a district we performed above average for the County and State levels.”
Thursday, 25 September 2014 08:51
It seemed to happen in an instant.
Hicksville forward Michael Osmundsen was touching the ball past Kellenburg goalkeeper Jack Abuin to slot the ball into an empty net to score the lone goal in the non-league 1-0 victory over the Firebirds.
It’s nothing short of what Comets boys soccer head coach Scott Starkey would expect. He described his forward as “very explosive, fast and he’s not just fast — he’s tenacious.”
Thursday, 18 September 2014 00:00
This November, Hicksville resident Marlo Signoracci will head to Florida for Ironman, a demanding, long-distance triathlon that includes biking, running and swimming. Here, she shares her story as she prepares for one of the most physically challenging athletic events out there.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!