The Feds Are Making a List; inBloom™ Is Checking It Twice


On April 30, 2013 the Obama administration announced they’d cut the much-maligned application form for the health insurance exchanges from a 21-page application to three pages for individuals and seven pages for families.(This isn’t counting the 61-page instruction manual for applying online.) The devil is in the details. They now use three application forms and multiple appendices-to give the appearance of simplifying things.

OK, bureaucracy as usual. But take a look at this:

From Applying for ObamaCare—Still Not Simple, Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2013: Applicants may be further disturbed when they encounter, on the signature page, this message: “We’ll check your answers using information in our electronic databases and databases from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security, the Department of Homeland Security, and/or a consumer reporting agency. If the information doesn’t match, we may ask you to send us proof.”

The Feds are intent on adding to their data bases-so they’ll have all the “proof” they need to document every instant of people’s lives. It starts with the kids. Improving the Measurement of Socioeconomic Status for the National Assessment of Educational Progress: A Theoretical Foundation, a white paper, shows how the Feds can classify students by more than just their parents’ income or education levels. As Greg Toppo reported in USA Today, May 9, 2013: this paper explains the federal government should be able to tie test scores to a host of indicators, including: whether parents own or rent their home, how many times a family has moved in the past year and whether anyone in their household gets medical assistance.

The Feds have decided it isn’t enough to ask kids taking the NAEP if their family has a dishwasher. They need more information. Added information-home size, backyards, rates of single parenthood and unemployment, times family moved-will provide a fuller picture of kids’ lives. One category is

cultural possessions (classic literature, books of poetry, classic art)

For starters, this is a very odd definition of “culture.” You don’t have to be paranoid to wonder what future definitions will include.

Does your family have a Koran? What’s in the kitchen: Betty Crocker or The Anarchist’s Cookbook? What’s in the refrigerator? The medicine cabinet?

The Feds say they’re trying to further detail the conditions of poverty. We’d all be better off, of course, be better off if they’d do something about poverty itself, such as raising the minimum wage, providing housing support, improving libraries, and so on.

But this astonishing invasion of privacy is about a whole lot more than detailing the conditions of poverty. All this data will be on every child’s permanent record.

Permanent. As in forever.

Maybe Thomas Wolfe was right and you can’t go home again. But the Feds are making sure you will carry your home with you. Forever.


Suddenly those old song lyrics aren’t nearly so benign:

He’s making a list,
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. . .
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good . . . .

Bring on inBloom, Inc.™ to mine the data that teachers in every village and vale, under the direction of the Feds, have so handily collected. Just ask yourself why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pumped $87,333,334 into developing this operation.

Grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 2011:
Shared Learning Collaborate, LLC: $87,333,334

The claim is that gathering all this data and making it available to vendors will “personalize learning.”

Press Release Feb. 5, 2013
Today the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) announced the launch of inBloom Inc., a nonprofit provider of technology services aimed at connecting data, applications and people that work together to create better opportunities for students and educators. . . .

“Education technology and data need to work better together to fulfill their potential for students and teachers,” said Iwan Streichenberger, CEO of inBloom Inc. “Until now, tackling this problem has often been too expensive for states and districts, but inBloom is easing that burden and ushering in a new era of personalized learning.”

The inBloom™ data integration and content search services enrich learning applications by connecting them to systems and information that currently live in a variety of different places and formats while helping to reduce costs for states and districts. This comprehensive view into each student’s history can help those involved in education — from teachers to administrators to parents — see students’ progress, gain insights into how they might do better and act quickly to help each student succeed. It also helps educators locate standards-aligned instructional resources from multiple providers and match them with their students’ needs.

“inBloom lets us compile and access assessment data from more than a dozen different systems,” said Tom Stella, assistant superintendent of schools, Everett, Mass. “This information, paired with relevant content that maps to a student’s individual needs, helps maximize a teacher’s time and a student’s learning potential by letting them focus on in-class teaching and learning.” . . .

Twenty-one education technology companies have already announced plans to develop applications that will work with inBloom through the service’s open application programming interface (API). . . .

About the Stared Learning Collaborative
The Shared Learning Collaborative is an alliance of states, districts, educators, foundations and content and tool providers passionate about using technology to improve education. The SLC developed all the inBloom software components and has worked with education technology companies and developers to encourage the development of inBloom-compatible applications.
About inBloom Inc.
inBloom Inc. is a nonprofit organization established to carry forward the mission of the Shared Learning Collaborative, which is to work to make personalized learning a reality for every U.S. student. inBloom provides technology services that allow states and public school districts to better integrate student data and learning applications to support sustainable, cost-effective personalized learning. inBloom is funded with initial philanthropic support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York. For more information about inBloom, visit

The support of the Council of Chief State School Officers is featured on the inBloom site.

Grants awarded from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the Council of Chief State School Officers:

2009 and earlier:





Total: $73,608,756

And counting.

Just remember Matt Taibbi’s description of Goldman Sachs: “The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.”- Rolling Stone, July 2009

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the nation’s most powerful education player, is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of public schools which are on their way to being swindled dry. Acting in consort, the Department of Education is a Lorelei on the rocks singing a song of seduction . . . and disaster. They promise money in return for a little data:

Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 121 hours per response, including time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. The obligation to respond to this collection is required to obtain or retain benefit under P.L. 111-5 Section 406 (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).

You want money from the Feds? Send them your data.

The Gates progeniture at inBloom™ know what to do with it.

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About the author

Susan Ohanian is a longtime teacher whose articles on education have appeared in publications ranging from Parents to The Nation. Her book One Size Fits Few: The Folly of Educational Standards introduced the term "Standardisto." She has maintained a website of resistance since NCLB was signed into law in 2002:

  • James Horn

    Nice work!

  • Deborah Meier

    Thanks! When my energies flag I can just take a look at this page and get riled up! Well, maybe “no thanks”! But we shall have to postpone long leisurely vacations for a mite longer-maybe a few decades? Or, dare I mention it-even longer. Meanwhile I’ll work on my eyes (see above).

  • Susan Edgerton

    Thanks once again, Susan.

  • Susan Edgerton

    Thanks once again, Susan.

  • Robin

    Who’d have thought there’d be so much interest in the lives of the “human capital”? Just a euphemism for serfs owing our souls to the company store - Microsoft.

  • Stephen Krashen

    Why is the .001% so interested in gathering this kind of data? In the movie Minority Report, when you enter a department
    store your eyes are scanned, the computer accesses your personal data,
    and you are informed what products are available that are “just right”
    for you. My simple hypothesis: Everything the .001% does is for profit,
    nothing else.

  • Dick

    Thank you, Susan! I haven’t yet seen Minority Report, but what is described here is eerily familiar to anyone who has read M.T. Anderson’s dystopian young-adult novel “Feed,” in which corporate America plants chips in people’s heads as a public service, which enables people to communicate with each other as part of a huge network, but also allows the monitors to watch what people purchase and tailor advertisements they receive in their heads to their buying patterns. There are many aspects of the world which unfolds in that story that have been coming true recently, but this is the closest to the central threat that I’ve seen yet. You have to wonder if we’re in a race with climate change to see whether it or us will be the winner in destroying our society…

  • Yvonne Siu-Runyan

    Right on!