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Race To The Top: Trick With No Treat?

USDeptOfEducation201310by Nancy Sall

Nyack, Oct 31 — This is scary, and it has nothing to do with Halloween.

A handful of school districts in the Lower Hudson Valley have been holding emergency meetings this week to decide whether or not to withdraw from their Race to the Top funds.  In order to receive the monies, one of the requirements is that districts submit student data they currently keep in-house. The Race to the Top funding amounts to a few thousand per year spread over four years.

The information collected on your child will be uploaded to a statewide database contracted by a 3rd party, called inBloom.  This “data dashboard” will maintain records that may include students’ test scores, immunization records, attendance, and disciplinary records.  There are actually 400 possible data points that can be collected on the data dashboard.

The NYS Commissioner of Education has not been able to answer questions regarding privacy of this information, or exactly how it will be used.  Parents are not able to opt-out of the data collection.

Pearl River is one neighbor that has decided to withdraw because of privacy concerns and the lack of control over student information.  Their superintendent posted a letter to district parents regarding their reasoning.  The Journal News reports that South Orangetown is also considering forfeiting their Race to the Top funds.

Standing with our neighbors in Pearl River is a first step in sending a message to the commissioner that parents will not tolerate this invasion of privacy.  The amount of money the Nyack School District will gain is a drop in the bucket in comparison to what we give up if we stay in Race to the Top.

Nancy Sall is an educator who lives in Nyack, NY.

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