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The Bottom Line :Education Database

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:17 PM EDT

ALBANY -- It's a fairly quiet move that's sparking a lot of outcry, and it could affect your kids' Bottom Line.
New York has signed on to a program, along with eight other states, in which students' private information will be collected and shared with a nationwide service.
"It's profoundly disturbing, and it's just irresponsible," New York Civil Liberties Union spokesman, Frank Donegan, says of this new arrangement.
The Capital Region chapter is echoing the sentiment of hundreds of parents, who already have expressed their concerns to the state about the new "Education Data Portal."
It'll be collecting information like student names, addresses, test scores, disciplinary and attendance records, even learning disabilities - and sharing it with a nationwide service, run by a non-profit called inBloom. It's newly-formed, funded in large part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and developed by a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.
The State Education Department tells CBS 6's Dori Marlin, the move aligns with the federal Race to the Top program.
"Race to the Top takes a comprehensive approach to helping students become college and career ready," Ken Wagner tells Dori. "School districts right now are contracting for the types of education software that can help students achieve at a higher level, but right now we believe that they're paying too much for those services."
So, the state says, this standardized system will give districts more options for tools - at a lower cost.
But critics are questioning, at what cost to the students?
"You're talking about the most private information of children, and giving it to private companies," Donegan says, "and they don't have a great record."
Dori brought that concern, to the state.
"Is there any chance that there could be a data breach, that this info could get leaked?" Dori asked Wagner.
"For the better part of 5, 15, 20 years, school districts have been making these types of purchases - and they've been providing data to third-party providers," Wagner responded. "What we would suggest is that you standardize those protocols and you make sure that industry best practices are protecting the data - then the data's actually more secure than sitting on an individual's desktop at home or in a classroom."
Dori asked Wagner, "Do the benefits of having this outweigh the risks?
"The questions that people have had regarding data security and privacy are absolutely the right questions," he answered, "and it's absolutely top of mind for us to do everything in our power, and everything that's required by state law and federal law, to make sure we protect data security and privacy."
All school districts in New York will be required to collect one set of data, and then decide individually on whether to collect a second set.  The Education Department hopes to implement the plan by late 2013.

The Bottom Line :Education Database

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