April 29, 2014

Major Victory for Student Safety and Privacy

inBloom National Database Shuts Down

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations


Will Estrada has been leading our efforts to defend homeschooling on Capitol Hill since 2006. As the oldest of eight kids, and a homeschool graduate who married a homeschool graduate, he has a passion for protecting homeschool freedom. Read more >>

On Monday, April 21, inBloom, the controversial company formed with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a national database of student-specific data, announced that it is closing its doors. This is a huge victory for student privacy advocates.

Home School Legal Defense Association has long opposed such Orwellian attempts to track students from preschool through graduation from college and entry into the workforce. We believe that a national database would not only threaten the privacy of students, but would also be susceptible to abuse by government officials or corporate representatives and could jeopardize student safety. Detailed national data systems are unnecessary to educate young people.

In Opposition

In September 2013, HSLDA published an article about the new inBloom databases entitled “The Dawning Database: Does the Common Core Lead to National Data Collection?” Our research showed that while the Common Core State Standards Initiative does not in itself create a national database, many backers of the Common Core—as well as the federal government—were working behind the scenes to create a national database of all schoolchildren. inBloom launched with a $100 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and was intended to build and operate this national database.

Supporters of tracking and storing the data of children from preschool through college did not reckon on massive outrage from moms, dads, and teachers across the nation. Few parents want the federal government, big business, and unaccountable education elites far removed from the classroom to collect or have access to this type of information on their children. State governments heeded the many outraged calls from their constituents and began to reject the inBloom database and other nationalized data collection systems. And last week, the work of these dedicated parents came to fruition when inBloom closed its doors.

Not Just Technology

In his statement on inBloom’s website, CEO Iwan Streichenberger tried to characterize national database opponents as uninformed Luddites rejecting cool new technology. He said “The use of technology to tailor instruction for individual students is still an emerging concept and inBloom provides a technical solution that has never been seen before. As a result, it has been the subject of mischaracterizations and a lightning rod for misdirected criticism.”

But parents are not objecting to new technology—they’re objecting to the use of technology to transfer local decision-making ability and control to national policy makers. Parents are tired of educational elites making parenting decisions for them. Parents and teachers should be in the driver’s seat when it comes to educating the next generation.

This is a significant victory. But we cannot rest yet. Those who support national student data tracking are not going away. States and the federal government have already whittled away numerous student privacy protections, as we described in “The Dawning Database.” This victory is the first step, as we continue to call on state legislatures and Congress to aggressively protect student privacy.

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