Lots of questions cropped up about the protection of the data and on Wednesday the curiosity turned to outright ire against the Atlanta-based grant-funded non-profit firm that is organizing and maintaining the data, inBloom.
Specifically, members of the Assembly Education Committee said they were furious that representatives of the organization declined to appear before them at the nearly day-long hearing.
“I was very disappointed. I reached out to the inBloom company and they refused (to come),” said Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Cathy Nolan who then proceeded to rip, criticize and generally berate Ed Commissioner John King over the firm’s absence.
Among the possible remedies suggested by Nolan: sending subpoenas to inBloom and putting forth legislation that would require parents to “opt in” to the data collection.
iBloom spokesman Adam Gaber said in an email that “Due to prior commitments, inBloom informed Assemblyman Nolan that we were unable to send a representative to today’s meeting.”
“These people wouldn’t come. That’s a red flag,” said Nolan. “It doesn’t speak well when people say they won’t come and talk to us.”
“Our ability to protect our privacy has not caught up with the mechanisms we use to collect and store data,” added Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, who earlier said it was “outrageous” for state education officials to suggest school districts couldn’t operate without the data program. O’Donnell has proposed an opt-in bill.
Hiding from legislative scrutiny - not an auspicious start for inBloom officials.
Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch both support imposing inBloom on parents and school districts whether they want it or not.
Assembly Speaker Silver once supported the same inBloom imposition.
It will be interesting to see if he still supports that imposition now, with parents in an uproar all over the state over the data collection, many districts handing back the Race to the Top money that initially funded the inBloom data collection project because of security concerns and now inBloom officials failing to show up for a meeting with the Education Committee.