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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins

Making ‘Targets’ Of Our Children  

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intrusive like: family relationships (“foster parent” or “father’s significant other”) and enrollment changes (“withdrawn due to illness” or “leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident”.)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?  

 

Parents everywhere, myself included, are up in arms. In fact, of the nine states that signed onto this plan, only three remain: Colorado, Illinois, and unfortunately, New York. Worse still, our state education department has already sent along the data for most of our 2.7 million students. Keep in mind that most local school districts have no privacy policy in place regarding this data sharing or even an opt-out for concerned parents. That’s because the federal law that previously required schools to obtain parents’ permission when sharing data was conveniently changed. They no longer have to alert parents if sharing it with a company with whom they have a contract.  I can’t help but recall the words of our forefather James Madison to be wary of “the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power.”     

 

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.”


News

Five New Hyde Park Memorial High School students won $5,000 cash and will share a $10,000 college scholarship after winning Nassau County’s annual Comptroller’s Entrepreneurial Challenge on April 9 to conceive the best business plan to redevelop the Nassau Coliseum.

 

Two hundred business students from high schools across Nassau County competed for scholarships and cash awards—more than $33,000 in all.

Two New Hyde Park business men were arrested on Tuesday, April 8 for underreporting gross sales, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced. 

 

DA Rice said Gerard Losquadro, 61 of Garden City and Charles DiMarino, 48, of East Norwich, as the former and current owner, respectively, of New Hyde Park Auto Body Works, failed to remit $149,936.65 in sales tax collected from customers to the New York State

Department of Taxation and Finance from Sept. 1, 2009 to May 31, 2013, according to the DA’s office. 


Sports

Sewanhaka’s boys lacrosse coach Peter Burgess has one rule when it comes to his goalies: make the saves that you’re supposed to make. 

 

Luckily for Burgess, senior Jake Mellen does that and more. 

 

“Once or twice a game he’ll make a save that no one’s supposed to make,” Burgess said. “I’ll look over to my assistant coach and say, ‘Wow, that was a special play right there’”

 

For three years, Mellen has been making those kind of spectacular saves for the Indians as the starting goalie. Before his senior season started, he was voted captain by his teammates and coaches. 

Coaching to some can be measured by wins and losses. But New Hyde Park’s head baseball coach Doug Robins measures his success through the success of his players, on and off the field. 

 

Robins has coached the Gladiators varsity baseball team since 1999 and made the playoffs 10 out of those 15 seasons. His teams have finished in second place in their league twice. 

 

Despite his teams on field success, Robins goal is to help his players succeed and receive the opportunity to play college ball. 


Calendar

Exercise Class - April 16

Kids Eat Free At Applebees - April 20

School Board Meeting - April 22


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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