Union succeeds in pressing CPS, Board of Education to delay premature deployment of new database after raising alarms about inadequate training, poor implementation and data fields that gathered massive amounts of immigration data for school administrators with poor track record of protecting student, parent data.
CHICAGO, Dec. 20, 2018—CTU President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement about news that CPS is delaying its implementation of Aspen. Rank and file members and union officials have been raising a range of concerns about CPS’ rushed plan to implement the database, from inadequate training protocols and a time commitment of over ten hours to train on the system in educators’ ‘free time’ to CPS plans to collect data that would essentially force educators to have to ask already alarmed parents and students about immigration status—with zero guarantee from CPS that this info will not be shared with law enforcement, ICE or other authorities.
Among Aspen’s data fields related to to immigration and citizenship status were ‘citizenship status’, ‘date first entered U.S. school’, ‘full years completed in US schools’, ‘refugee status’, ‘immigration year started school’, ‘years immigrated’, ‘country citizenship’, ‘country immigration’ and ‘country of refuge’—all fields the union challenged as unnecessary and potentially harmful to students and families, particularly given CPS’ poor track record in safeguarding the private data of students and families.
“CPS’ original plan for deploying Aspen—and for gathering information about students’ immigration status—was terrible,” said Sharkey. “We’re glad that CPS has at last listened to the CTU’s concerns and agreed to delay its premature plan to deploy Aspen. This struggle is one more glaring example of the failure of mayoral control of our schools, and the failure of the mayor’s hand-picked, unelected school board to exercise the kind of responsible oversight our students and families deserve. Our rank and file members continue to raise issues about Aspen and a host of other critical education issues – an ongoing failure of transparency, accountability and sound educational policy in CPS. It’s time for Rahm Emanuel to renounce his control of our schools and support what Chicagoans have demanded for years: an elected, representative school board that provides parents and the city with the kind of democratic school governance and oversight we deserve.”