The mission of the oxymoronic non-profit corporation inBloom was to manage student data for public schools and streamline how teachers and administrators accessed that data. Like many big data operations, inBloom rankled people who found out how it worked. Although financed with $100 million in seed money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the company closed its doors last month. The company’s CEO, Iwan Streichenberger, claimed the failure was less about technical execution than parental angst. According to Streichenberger, parents were buried under an avalanche of misinformation about inBloom’s data collection and its usage. People naturally want to protect their children and inBloom, whatever its processes, failed big time at the PR pitch to its most sensitive constituents: parents. Apparently, parents still believe that a third-party vendor doesn’t need their children’s Social Security numbers or intimate details about family relationships. (Presumably there are even some parents out there who think that stuff isn’t already just a click away.) New York residents got their lawmakers to prohibit the state’s Department of Education from giving the sensitive information to data aggregators. And inBloom quickly wilted in the data security heat.
The new New York legislation is also seen as a big win against the controversial Common Core curriculum, which has been linked to the data collection. In conjunction with the data security announcement, the state Board of Regents (which oversees education in New York) announced a five-year reprieve from the full implementation of Common Core, the nationalized math and English learning standards that have sparked national debate. So the class of 2022 will now be the first to face the new higher graduation requirements.