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Letter: Eastchester Superintendent Opts District Out Of 'Race To The Top'

Eastchester Superintendent of Schools Walter Moran informs parents in a letter that the district has opted out of "Race To The Top."
Eastchester Superintendent of Schools Walter Moran informs parents in a letter that the district has opted out of "Race To The Top." Photo Credit: Contributed

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Daily Voice accepts original, signed letters to the editor. Submit your letter to eastchester@dailyvoice.com.

Dear Parents:

As you may be aware, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) is requiring all districts who participate in the Race to the Top federal grant program to select a data portal to store and display confidential student data. These data include demographic information, academic history, student disability classifications, and parent contact information.

Part of what has made this process so controversial is that there is no assurance that these data will remain secure. NYSED has contracted with inBloom Inc. to store these data, but inBloom Inc. has stated that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored… or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”

In addition, Districts who elect to remain in RTTT must also upload these data to another third party. This leaves me very concerned about the security of personal data, and the potential risks involved with having confidential information transferred and stored by a private company.

I am pleased to inform you that the Board of Education has accepted my recommendation for our District to opt-out of Race to the Top (RTTT). The requisite paperwork was submitted to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) on November 7, 2013.

By opting out, the District is not required to select a data portal. This decision reflects our deep concerns about student privacy issues with respect to inBloom, a nonprofit organization that New York is partnering with for encrypted data storage and non-proprietary platform services. While the State has indicated that data stored by inBloom will not be accessible to third party vendors unless specifically authorized by the State or by districts consistent with FERPA, assurances to that effect remain in question to a great many school districts in our region. The confidentiality of student information is of utmost importance to the District.

The decision to opt-out means that the District will forfeit $4,000 in federal funding for the 2013-2014 school year. At the same time, it is important to understand that we must still comply with:

  • Standardized testing in grades three through eight
  • Implementing the Common Core Learning Standards in grades K through 12.
  • The new teacher/principal evaluation system
  • Increased data reporting requirements
  • The pending computer-based testing initiative in 2015

In the next few days you will be notified of how you can make your concerns known by sending letters to the State Education Department and to elected officials who represent Eastchester.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully,

Dr. Walter Moran

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