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tle we see you


Did you wake up feeling relieved this morning?  Your child’s data will be in the trusted hands of Microsoft and Dell and others in the edtech world, and you should trust them with it, because they said so.  They built a website, they paid for participating school districts to fly out and create a logo and trusty seal of approval that is supposed to make you feel better about them collecting, leveraging, and sharing your child’s data.  Meet TLE,  soon to be plastered on schools everywhere (once districts prove themselves and pay the required fee ):

TLE logo

What is the TLE Seal?  “The seal will signify that a school has broadly and deeply implemented aspirational, yet achievable practices to ensure the privacy of student data.”  [emphasis added]

Really reaching for the stars there.

(They aspire to protect data but hey–it’s not really possible, so they will do what is achievable.) Does that hilarious definition make you feel better about data?  Do you feel inspired to trust them?

Were parents involved in this process?  Nope.

Does this TLE “trusted seal” mean parents can see the data elements collected, opt out of data collection, ask for their child’s data to be deleted, see who the data has been shared with, or apply ANY enforceable penalties to vendors  or give a private right of action to parents if  their child’s data is misused or breached?     Nope.

Who was involved in creating this trusty data privacy seal for schools?

(conflicts of interest much?)

The effort was paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The group was headed and directed by CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking, led by Bob Moore, who has since moved on to Dallas ISD).  The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology.  Lead partners for this national endeavor are:  AASA – The School Superintendents Association, ASBO International (the Association of School Business Officials International) and ASCD (the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). You will remember that ASCD, along with many other non-profits and edtech vendors, are part of the GoOpen push for online curriculum and meta data collection for  the Federal Learning Registry.    


More on COSN who has received money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is involved in many data driven initiatives, such as this to promote data use and personalized learning.  Because data is power.  

tle cosn dqc prometheon dell


Consortium for School Networking CoSNDATA DRIVEN DECISION MAKING INITIATIVECoSN is grateful for the following sponsors for their support of this initiative: Dell, Filewave, Lenovo, Pearson, and Promethean (Promethean mentioned in this video  for data collecting emitters in classroom smartboards) . “As the Data Quality Campaign says, Data is PowerCoSN helps schools and districts move beyond data collection to use data to inform instructional practice and personalize learning.


So who was not involved?  Apparently, they didn’t invite parents and couldn’t get this group’s endorsement:


Leaked email:  the National School Board Association was invited to be part of this Gates-Dell paid “privacy seal” and NSBA declined.


Why didn’t NSBA take part in this Gates-Dell-COSN-TLE  alphabet soup “privacy seal” campaign?

Perhaps NSBA knew that this is another well funded marketing gimmick and they, along with parents, don’t buy it. Or perhaps it’s because NSBA came out with a FREE privacy guide 2 years earlier, which gives citations to current laws and studies (at the time) and acknowledges privacy laws are weak and do not adequately protect student data.   NSBA also encourages school districts to engage and be transparent with parents about student data.

nsba privacy guide “Teachers and administrators must understand the necessity of taking steps to ensure that cloud services deployed throughout a district’s offices and classrooms comply with all applicable laws and district policies. And the school district community—including parents—should be consulted and educated about the district’s use of the Cloud.”  DATA IN THE CLOUD A Legal and Policy Guide for School Boards on Student Data Privacy in the Cloud Computing Era-2014 National School Boards Association.

If this TLE data sharing, data leveraging, data usage, student data as a business model leaves you feeling less than trusting of the TLE “privacy” seal, you are not alone.

We can think of some other words that come to mind when thinking of this TLE seal and trust is not one of them.

How about you? TLE word cloud dollar sign

Cheri Kiesecker