inBloom: corporatizing America's schools


The dichotomy between inBloom’s website, featuring photos of smiling elementary-age children seated beside young teachers, tablets in hand, and its seven-page Privacy and Security Policy, full of legalese, could not be more stark.

Public relations executives seeking to paint a picture of educational nirvana clearly crafted the website, while corporate attorneys looking to avoid lawsuits wrote the verbose, mind-numbingly dry privacy policy.

Haven’t heard of inBloom? Neither had I until I covered the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District Board of Education meeting on May 8, and North Merrick parent Lisa Katz raised concerns about it. She’s right to worry, I learned through Internet research.

inBloom is a nonprofit “technology-services provider” that, according to the hype, will allow teachers to seamlessly integrate the multiple applications that educational software companies are writing for classroom use. And inBloom wants to personalize education by matching applications to specific students to meet their individual learning needs.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York are backing the $100 million effort. Nine states –– representing 11 million students –– are taking part in a pilot program to develop inBloom, including New York, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

Five states have selected school systems to take part in the program. The New York City Department of Education will represent New York.

“inBloom lets us compile and access assessment data from more than a dozen different systems,” said Tom Stella, an assistant school superintendent in Everett, Mass., in a Feb. 5 inBloom press release. “This information, paired with relevant content that maps to students’ individual needs, helps maximize a teacher’s time and a student’s learning potential by letting them focus on in-class teaching and learning.”

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  • krtmcg

    Thank you so very much for this very enlightening article. It seems almost as if it cannot be true. How can anyone take my child's confidential information without my consent, pass it along to whomever they deem appropriate and not even guarantee it's security against God only knows who. Is it not against the law for the school to allow access to my child's information without my knowledge! I would think that this information should be coming from our schools and not our local paper. Parents should be outraged, I know I am.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013 Report this

  • elovesme99

    Thank you for sharing. I had passed this information along to one of my school board members as this 'tidbit' has been circulating on Facebook for a few weeks. It has been mostly publicly ignored in the media, with the focus being mostly on the State testing and the Opt Out Movement. I think this is a huge issue that parents, faculty and administrators are in the dark about. I appreciate your shedding light on it.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013 Report this

  • kgdot2

    The Centre Avenue PTA has been working hard to inform parents about inBloom and many other "reforms" that are having a profound impact on the current and future education of our children. A multipage information packet including letters to Commissioner King, the Governor, and representatives was distributed at last Monday's meeting. If you'd like a copy, please get in touch with the Centre Ave PTA through the school website. On June 8th there will be a rally in Albany demanding standardized test reform. Please attend school board and PTA meetings. As concerned voters and parents we have the power to put pressure on the politicians who are making these decisions. Thank you for writing this article, the press has been largely silent on these issues.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013 Report this

  • leoniehaimson

    The good news is that four states (LA, GA, KY, DE) have recently announced they are pulling out of inBloom; the bad news is that NY is sharing confidential student data from the entire state’s public school population with inBloom, and as far as we know, has already sent much of this data into the inBloom cloud.

    A bill has been introduced in the Legislature to try to stop inBloom and the unethical sharing of personal student data with vendors without parental consent. A.6059/S.4284 now has 59 co-sponsors in the Assembly and 20 in the Senate.

    It’s especially important for Long Islanders to call Sen. Flanagan at (631) 361-2154 and Sen. Skelos at (516) 766-8383 and ask them to support the bill and hold hearings on it now.

    Sunday, May 19, 2013 Report this

  • artyone

    "As a parent of two school-age children, I am beyond concerned. I am furious."

    Hey Scott - what makes you think your children belong to you? Support public schools? Well...regardless of what crap they present your kids, you as "furious parent" have no choice but to shut up and like it. Otherwise men with guns will and enforce their will.

    Getting worked up about the "potential" privacy vulnerabilities of a tech vendor who consolidates info from other tech vendors seems a little misplaced. If you're truly concerned about liberty as a citizen, start with the liberty to raise your own kids.

    Thursday, June 20, 2013 Report this