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Stockholm parents built their own school app, then the city called the cops (wired.co.uk)
568 points by hakonbogen on Nov 4, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 348 comments

The first thing that jumps out is Sweden has a national identity system, BankID. The APIs appear to be protected using those credentials. With that in mind I have two questions:

1. Who owns the data?

2. Should public funds be used for the creation of private APIs that manage the data?

The answer to (1) has consequences for (2).

I think many HN readers, including myself, and certainly these parents would argue that the data is the property of the parents. If you see the data as being the property of the parents then you would see the APIs as being the means for retrieving and manipulating your data - data that's protected by this national BankID identification.

It appears the school system believes the data is their data, and not the parents' data. Therefore retrieving the data through any other means than the "official" app is a potential data breach.

So who is right? Think about the data we manage on behalf of our customers, for example. Who owns that data? What rights do our customers have in accessing and managing that data?

This is a really interesting case and hopefully will force the answer to these questions.

(I am Christian Landgren, cofounder of the project)

You are right, the city believes they have ownership of the data, mainly because they fail to understand that they aren’t showing data in an app, but rather publishing data in an API. In Swedish law, once you have released data from a government, the receiver have the right to do whatever they want with the that data (as long as it isn’t violating any other laws).

The city in this case is responsible to check that the data is safe to share publicly and once they have- the data is not theirs. This is regulated in the constitutional law regulating free speech which goes back to year 1766.

This means that they can’t really apply the same logic as a private company can when publishing data in their api. A private company can still keep license over what can be done with the data they publish. A city can not do that because of these constitutional laws.

> You are right, the city believes they have ownership of the data, mainly because they fail to understand that they aren’t showing data in an app, but rather publishing data in an API.

Christian, it's not about the data and has never been. The data is a legal tool they are using.

The municipal administration is trying to save face. It's layers and layers of non-technical bureaucrats who have to justify their salaries.

A few talented software engineers running in circles around some multi-million dollar contract they gave to a large offshored operations with probably close to a hundred individual programmers doesn't look good for them at all.

That's an interesting angle - the government published the data via an API and therefore the data is now public and so as a result these other laws you mention come into play. Fascinating! Please keep us posted as to how this progresses.

The act of publishing has little to do with it. Sweden is open by default and the government has to provide public access to official documents to anyone and everyone - including foreign nationals.

> The principle of public access to official documents serves as a guarantee for transparency in the work of the Riksdag, the Government and the public authorities. The principle is set out in the Freedom of the Press Act, which is one of Sweden's fundamental laws, and means that everyone is entitled to access official documents.

> Everyone is entitled to contact a public authority and request a copy of an official document. Anyone requesting access to an official document does not need to provide their name or any details of how the document will be used.

The government can opt-in to secrecy.

> The Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act contains provisions on secrecy to protect public interests, for example, national security. It also contains provisions on secrecy to protect individuals’ personal or financial circumstances.

Source: https://www.riksdagen.se/en/how-the-riksdag-works/the-riksda...

US law is similar. The federal government cannot hold copyright and absent specific opt-ins for national security and so on, all data is public.

States and cities are a bit trickier because of the weird way the constitution interacts with states, but things still tend towards open access.

Is there any way to write an app that doesn’t “publish the data” by this definition? It seems like publishing was not their intent, and furthermore they were not legally allowed to “publish” personal data.

For example if their system includes an app that lets you see your students grades and disciplinary issues, presumably you would not want that published. Is it simply impossible to build an app with such data in Sweden now as it would be “published”?

Edited to add: and just to be clear, I am fully supportive of this use case. Just trying to understand the restrictions better.

No, because applications, publishing and intent doesn't factor in.

Student grades and disciplinary issues become official documents as soon as the teacher documents them regardless of form (i.e. paper, audio recording, IT-system, etc). The school is then obligated to provide those official documents to anyone upon request.

The school could argue that this information should be kept secret but student grades are not explicitly protected by law and it has already been established that this type of information is in fact public. I don't know about disciplinary issues but interactions with social services and psychologists are explicitly protected by law.

The Swedish government has always been obligated to make information accessible to humans and with new regulation regarding Open data and Digital government that obligation has increased to also make information accessible to machines. Attempting to create an application that makes this difficult would be misconduct - the Swedish government is obligated to provide APIs.

Can a different parent look at my child's grades? Or is there still some level of privacy where only certain parties are allowed to view certain documents even if they are official.


Edit 1: I figured I should back this up with a source but all the ones I could find are written in Swedish. So either accept my translation or ask a trustworthy Swede to translate it for you.

> Skolbetyg är allmänna handlingar, och vem som helst kan beställa fram betyg från arkiven. Journalister brukar t ex ofta vilja se på nytillträdda ministrars skolbetyg.

Source https://riksarkivet.se/skolbetyg


School grades are official documents, and anyone can request grades from the archives. Journalists often like to see the school grades of newly elected government officials.

This source is the Swedish National Archive but this also applies to non-historical grades.

Edit 2:

> Or is there still some level of privacy where only certain parties are allowed to view certain documents even if they are official.

The government can, and will, opt-in to secrecy for things like social services and medical records.

The example you're talking about is for adults who have been out of school for a while.

I'm pretty sure you can't request information about minors, so you can't look up the grades of your neighbour's kids or something like that.

Right, ok, but you can only request final grades. So you can only do this once on 15-year-olds, after they've finished primary school. And the next time you can do this on a person, they're gonna be 18 and have graduated high school.

I thought the primary school final grades were protected until you're an adult, but apparently not.

There may be some terminology confusion at play. The data may be an "offentlig handling" ("public document"). Christian's argument is that since the data is a "public document" it can be published through his app. That argument is correct at least as long as he has an "utgivningsbevis" ("letter of publishing rights"?). However, it doesn't follow that the way his app is accessing the data is lawful. You may go to a bank and withdraw your savings but you may not break into a bank and physically take your savings.

Grades are "public documents" in all schools in Sweden. With other things like disciplinary issues it varies depending on whether the school is run by the government or a private company.

No, the app has no communication to us, we don’t even have a server. This means that from a legal standpoint we aren’t publishing any information. We only help our users to present their own data in a better format (than json).

Sorry, I see now that “they” in my comment was ambiguous. I meant “the government”, not your app that accesses the school APIs. As in, if in Sweden anything that is available from the government in an API is defined to be published, does that mean the government cannot make an API for private information such as sensitive parent/teacher communications?

Naively it seems to me that a government API could contain docs that are not published/public docs. But maybe that is so, and the argument here is simply that _in this case_ everything was in fact public, including some personal data that would seem non-public to people familiar with other legal systems.

If (and only if) the API is authenticated can you publish things that fall under various secrecy laws (sekretesslagar), the chief one I am familiar with is medical secrecy, where a person has access to all their medical records, medical staff have access to records that are relevant to ongoing treatment, and no one else has.

This can, in principle, be solved with a permission system that makes suitable decisions based on the identity of the API user (well, the identity on whose behalf the API queries are done).

For medical secrecy, should you stumble over information that you should not have, you are then legally obliged to not disclose the information, but I cannot recall to what extent you have an obligation to tell relevant document owners about the possible breach, it's simply been too long since I was working in medical IT (where, by necessity, I would occasionally stumble over secret things doing things like DB repairs or helping users with application problems).

Hi, congrats on the app. I was curious about one thing in the article - why would the city pay to license the app when it is open source? Do you anticipate that this would be cheaper for them than them paying one of their overpriced contractors to build and publish an "official" version, given how much they spent on a CRUD app?


Well we have already made the source code open and free and also encouraged the city to release an app with our source code as base. They weren’t interested in that. They would rather license the app, support and maintenance to us. We have quoted a fixed sum per month for that service and we plan to use that money to reimburse everyone sending PR:s we merge.

> We have quoted a fixed sum per month for that service and we plan to use that money to reimburse everyone sending PR:s we merge

How interesting :- ) I wonder how you'll distribute the thanks-for-the-feature (PR) money — e.g. per PR, or per lines (hmm I guess not) or maybe some impact / "severity" system like for bug bounties? (but this time "feature bounties")

(From Sweden me too. How nice that you built the app and that apparently things seem to end in a good way :- ) I felt a bit upset when reading the article)

If you view your idealised version of the app as "the app" and everywhere it doesn't currently match reality as a bug, you can just use a bug bounty system for it and it will make intuitive sense for everyone :)

When writing the first line in a new project,

one in an instant adds thousands of bugs :- )

Sounds like a positive step forward, despite the grief they put you through! Ultimately it seems like democracy winning out, although sad to see the very institution that should support and endorse it acting as a gatekeeper.

Swede here. This is just a guess, but I think it's the illusion of control. Too much negative press about the conflict, and this is their attempt at controlling the narrative and "taking responsibility". We'll see what the future holds.

Well done! Both for the app and seeing the fight through. All of us would be lucky to have people as dedicated as you and your team in our cities.

But there is no API here. The article makes it clear that you were intercepting client-server communication not meant to be used by third parties in order to write your own client. That it could be used as an API doesn't matter since the intent wasn't to create an API.

I could do the same thing and write an app for, say, the tax agency by scraping its website but it would be a legal gray area.

I'm not sure I follow why that would matter. Their constitution says once data has been released, it is no longer their property (because it's a public institution). They created a way to access the data, so the data has been released to the parents and so the data now belongs to the parents. The parents own the data and as such it would seem to follow they can access it anyway they want.

It matters because the definition of data breach is very broad. For example, if I run a website and tell you that you may not browse my website but you continue to browse my website you may be guilty of data breach. If I tell you not to login to my website but you still login because I forgot to disable your account you very likely is guilty of data breach. Since the city didn't publish their information through an API, nor intended the information to be used by third parties, and also explicitly stated that they did not want Christian's app to access their information, it's quite possible that the app facilitated data breach.

See the Aaron Schwartz trial which was about essentially the same thing.

> you may be guilty of data breach.

No, you may not in this case :) That is why people keep emphasising the way in which the data was published. This is Sweden, not the US.

> the city didn't publish their information through an API

Yes, they did.

> and also explicitly stated that they did not want Christian's app to access their information

If you cannot reasonably be said to have circumvented any technical measures to secure the data (cryptographic keys, some sort of login, IP range blocks, etc) it is not a breach. In that case, it is just you consuming what is there for everyone (like unencrypted wifi - harvesting those signals using SDRs is not an issue because you are not bypassing any security), which is okay.

Edit: Legally okay, that is. How you feel about it ethically is up to you, I'm not talking about that.

> No, you may not in this case :) That is why people keep emphasising the way in which the data was published. This is Sweden, not the US.

Here is the relevant paragraph:

"För dataintrång döms den som olovligen bereder sig tillgång till en uppgift som är avsedd för automatisk behandling eller olovligen ändrar, utplånar, blockerar eller i register för in sådan uppgift"

The requisites are: "olovligen", "bereder sig tillgång till", and "uppgift som är avsedd för automatisk behandling". Christian's app full fills the requisites.

API means "Application Programming Interface" and if you think the city created or intended to create such a thing you don't know what an API is.

> If you cannot reasonably be said to have circumvented any technical measures to secure the data (cryptographic keys, some sort of login, IP range blocks, etc) it is not a breach.

You have no idea what you are talking about. There are several precedents that show that circumventing technical measures is not required for data breach to have occurred.

They for sure intended to make an API, but also intended it only to be used between the two contractors involved in the application development. There was a requirement in the RFQ for the backend to have a well documented API. Almost all of the RFQ was about making an API. In this case the indended user e.g. the parrent is using the API to get the data they are supposed to get. Thou using a different webb-app than the intended one from the city. I have a hard time seeing how the parent by accessing the same data they are supposed to get are doing any crime. The police investigation came to the same comclusion, and the internal investigation at stockholm city also came to this comclusion. That the police cited stockholms internal investigations i think is a nice little detail here. Thou if the app would have given the parents access to data they ware not supposed to get over the API they situations might been an other. Now it's just the same information but persented in a user-friendlier way.

(translated to english)

>For data intrusion, a person who illegally prepares access to information that is intended for automatic processing or illegally changes, deletes, blocks or registers such information is sentenced

This app does not appear to meet this definition as the data they are exposing is not intended for automatic processing, but it is exposing manually consumed data (i.e. the parents were already consuming this data manually) in a different, more accessible way.

I agree the city obviously wasn't intending to expose an API.

Which precedents are you talking about. I don't know much of anything about Swedish law so any precedent you can show would be educational for me.

> There are several precedents that show that circumventing technical measures is not required for data breach to have occurred.

Given that you know significantly more than me perhaps you could give me some examples. I'm always interested to see countries in which such jurisprudence is different from the norm, especially in Europe. Thanks :)

There is clearly an API in play here. The article mentions it numerous times. The client app has to use an API to get its data, that's a downside of deploying a SPA. You need to make an API for it to get data from.

If you don't want to make an API that exposes raw data just write a SSR app. If you want to deploy a SPA, well, you have to deploy an API as well and you need to plan around the fact that when you throw an API out into the wild and authorize people to use it (by handing out auth tokens), well, people are gonna use it.

Using SPA vs SSR as the sole factor in determining "published" status rings hollow for me, because it completely excludes any analysis based on intent, and intent usually matters in law! (Though I admit I'm not familiar in this case and this country.)

Also it's easy to poke holes: does this mean that scraping data from html is always hacking, regardless of the expressed intent? (See recent Missouri case for what that might degenerate into.) What if it's "semantic web" and the html contains metadata specifically designed to aid data extraction?

I think the parents should own the data, and that's why it should be open. But I don't think drawing the line based on which kind of technology is used to deliver the content is a good method of adjudicating published intent.

Publication intent is trivial to verify.

Q) Are you able to retrieve a document using the credentials issued to you by the API? A) Yes: Then you're authorized to view it. No: You're not authorized to view it.

An API is the encoding of business rules around data access and modification. If your API is allowing access that you don't intend a user to have, fix your authorizations.

See I like this argument better because it has nothing to do with being an API or HTML and everything to do with access authorization. It doesn't make sense for the government to have the power to control how the data the parents are authorized to view is displayed, or what tool they use to display it.

> drawing the line based on which kind of technology is used to deliver the content is a good method

Apart from other reasons, it would almost certainly result in providers obfuscating data or reverting to SSR which is a perverse outcome.

It might technically look like an API - but it could still not count as an API legally (for the constitutional trick) if the interface was not intended to be public.

If you want to stretch the terms, everything on and off the web that does communication is basically an API - it's just that some of those APIs use JSON to encode their data and make it really easy to access... and some of them bury it in mountains of HTML - but if the data is there the data is there. There really isn't a functional difference between a scraper that goes from TEXT => DATA and a json decoder that goes from TEXT => DATA except how easy it is to write and maintain it.

One outcome of this fight might be that government organizations are directed to use more proprietary communication methods which would be a poor outcome for everyone involved.

The law is not specific at all in regards to the format of the document. So to talk about an “API legally” has no meaning. In a private scenario it makes sense but what we are talking about here is public documents which are sent through an API. The city has responsibility to only send information I have (as a parent) legally right to see. How I parse it and present it is up to me as citizen (through an app or save it as json and upload to an excel file or such)

One implication of this project could be that government agencies in Sweden can not have private API:s.

To use more proprietary methods (private api:s) will have no effect on the constitutional law. You still have received a public document as a citizen.

> How I parse it and present it is up to me as citizen

I know technologists like to think that way but very often the law doesn't work like that. They will think about intent - was the intent to give you the raw data or was the intent to convey a specific representation of it that may omit some parts or further transform or presentation layer changes to achieve a different final result to what the raw data would have conveyed?

If it is the latter then that is the "public document" you have access to, not the raw data from the API.

> convey a specific representation ... is the "public document" you have access to, not the raw data

Seems you're saying it might be illegal to convert a HTML file to PDF format, or to use a screen reader to read the text.

I wonder in which country you are (where apparently there can be laws like that)

Or even just print it out. Or put it in a binder. Or make it your desktop wallpaper. Or print it on your toilet paper rolls. Or make paper airplanes out of it. Hmmm it seems like this is a bit of a ridiculous argument. I highly doubt any free government would/could make it illegal for me to print the laws on toilet paper, downloaded via their API.

An app that parses a news sites articles, removes all advertisements from it, and adds its own might very well be illegal in some jurisdictions.

that would be a bit less clear I think .... perhaps it may make it more concrete to think about an example.

Say the education department has a requirement that where ever a student's grades are displayed, the legend to explain their meaning and a disclaimer about limitations is included. It could even be a hard requirement (like, they got sued once for not doing it so their lawyers have told them they must enforce this). So they are careful that in their app, that requirement is always satisfied, since failing to do that could lead to harmful confusion that could impact a student.

So in their view the "document" they made public is the fully rendered version of that. If you print it out you are effectively doing a transformation that preserves its form and essential characteristics. If you screen shot it, cut out the disclaimers and legend and then paste it on a public web site ... you could create the same problems that you are by taking raw data out of the API.

Here's one possible issue though - I asked (in another sibling comment) if `ls` could be considered a filesystem API - I strongly believe it is. That means we probably (for sanity's sake) need to differentiate internal vs. external APIs and provide a method for safely allowing this public document method to be well defined.

If a spy is filling out an expense report via secure email after an undercover mission to Norway (trying to figure out if Norway is hording lutefisk, I assume) which ends up resulting in a bombshell report to the public about international lutefisk accessibility then that report is clearly public - but the spy's expense report (including, I'd assume, their identity) is something that should logically be kept secret. There's some press secretary in the middle that takes the raw information and turns it into the scandal we all know it would be.

The data being transmitted over an API is not intended to be directly consumed by the public - there is, instead, an application that exists to take that raw data and transform it into something that is publicly viewable. That application is the corollary for our press secretary here.

I am concerned this might be a bigger rabbit hole than you expect. I totally agree that the town shouldn't flip out and be stupid calling in legal authorities like it currently is - but I think this might be more complex.

In this particular example, It’s likely none of that would be digital (over the web) and it would be classified.

Possibly? Or maybe they use a web based expense reporting system like almost everybody in the modern world. I also think it's a pretty open argument whether the definition of what is and isn't an API relies on things being served on the web.

Privately documented APIs are still APIs.

I don't disagree (though when it comes to this particular case it's a question of what the opinion of Swedish courts is) but there's just a lot of grey area there.

Would you consider `ls` an API for exposing your filesystem?

> Would you consider `ls` an API for exposing your filesystem?

I don't see why not.

It has an interface for input and output, conforms to well known specifications and is publicly documented.

There's also multiple implementations behind the API.

I would consider "ls" a presentation tool that uses an API to present information about a file system. I would consider stat/lstat/opendir/readdir/closedir the API that "ls" use to gather the information.

When you combine it with shell scripts, I'd say that ls is an API to itself.

> One outcome of this fight might be that government organizations are directed to use more proprietary communication methods which would be a poor outcome for everyone involved.

I agree with the rest of your argument, but I think that this part is not necessarily a good example of the risks. Far easier would be to use a shared key between the app and the site, and thus use encryption to prevent reading the data, while still sending it in JSON over HTTPS. A pinned certificate would do the trick, at least on phones which prevent the user from inspecting app bundles.

I think it depends on the outcome of the case - I could see some possible resolution like the Swedish supreme court declaring that JSON counts as a public record and that forcing a block on prohibitive encryption of JSON endpoints offered by the government (assuming everything the OP said about constitutionality is correct).

We've seen such bizarre technical decisions from high courts before.

I dont think the swedish legal system uses precedents though. Does that matter?

I don't know - I think all legal systems use precedents to a certain extent - they're just extremely formalized in America and Britain. Sorry but I'm not familiar enough with their system to reply with confidence but I would say that if a high court in a country rules a certain way, even if that isn't binding to future rulings, it will cause people to adjust their behavior to avoid falling into a trap that's been clearly called out already.

Uh, also, IANAL.

A website is an API (poorly designed).

The only way to not make an API out of publicly available data, is to encrypt it. Then nobody can read it unless they have the right keys.

If you encrypt it, you have to, at some point, also send the keys to the user. The key has the same legal protection as the rest of the document so encrypting the data has no implication on the legal discussion.

> If you encrypt it, you have to, at some point, also send the keys to the user.

Not if you're using a public key cryptosystem and the user generates their own private key. Only the public part is communicated (from the user to the source of the information), and that isn't enough to decrypt the document.

No, because if those keys have to be extracted from elsewhere to bypass a security measure it becomes a breach. The way the documents are published and the way in which they are accessed are relevant to the discussion.

I feel like focusing on who owns the data is unnecessary.

If there is an API that grants access to data by passing in a valid auth token, then it doesn’t matter if it’s called from a SPA app or postman or curl.

As long as you are using the public API and haven’t forged an auth token then it doesn’t matter how you call the public API.

Agree. Who cares about the client implementation?! You sent me the data, I decide how to process and render it. Otherwise we can sue people for having a black and white screen, using a text-only browser, a custom stylesheet or even for closing their eyes when the TV commercials are on.

I'm obligated to point out that bank id is not a national id. It's an electronic ID issued by private banks.

Your medical records are the property of your doctor.

> In some cases, people’s personal information could be accessed from Google searches.

SEO providers should take a note here.

> It warned parents to stop using the app and alleged that it might be illegally accessing people’s personal information

If your API allows data extraction, it probably isn't a fault of any client. Perhaps they meant that creators could steal credentials. A problem with any software.

I think this digital child managing system sounds moderately dystopian to be honest. I would have hated to give my parents access to anything like this. Kids will of course learn from how their parents behave...

An open API is a must in my opinion, but the rest of the App should be open source too.

That said, I don't really see the Swedish strategy as a model for other countries to follow. You don't need to give children chromebooks to learn. These are skills they have already mastered far better than their parents. They will learn about domain specific apps and there are indeed some really good ones, but such platform can also limit creativity because they are essentially sandpits. Depending on age that might be appropriate, but kids may have greater ambitions than their parents.

"I think this digital child managing system sounds moderately dystopian to be honest" I disagree, I have 2 kids in elementary school and it is very useful to be able to look up what the kids have scheduled for the day to determine what to dress them in, see what's for lunch and if I need to pack them something if they won't like the available option. Most importantly though its very helpful to look up what homework / tests are due as the kids tend to not manage this so well themselves. It also allows me to check their grades. Its not so much a "child managing system" as a way for the parents to be empowered to ensure their kids are doing well and what is going on in their school lives. As a parent, my kids are my responsibility, any tool I can use to be better at that is a good thing.

As I said, as a kid I would have hated this. I don't think kids benefit from this kind of overbearing parenting in the long run. Better than being neglected, I guess. Perhaps this is useful for very young children, but knowing myself I would have broken out of there as quickly as possible.

Let me preface this by clarify that when I say 'children', I mean young children 12 and younger, not teenagers in secondary school who can reasonably be expected to care for themselves...

Personally, I'm not seeing why this is a huge issue. In the 1980s, parents of at least the private school that I used would get a syllabus containing all the homework and class plans for the year.

If you wanted to know what was happening on week #7, you just had to look it up on paper without having a handy app to put it on your calendar. It wasn't seen as surveillance, but rather normal planning. If the teacher and school system know what's upcoming, then why shouldn't parents. It was seen as obvious that parents would help their children with homework, and that education necessarily involved parental support.

Along the way if there were any disciplinary or academic issues, parents would have to sign-off on handling minor problems, and would get a personal phone call from the school for major ones. This is in addition to monthly meetings, PTA, etc.

Has the world changed so much nowadays that people just drop off young children at school and can reasonably expect to be totally uninvolved?

Now to contrast, in my country, secondary school (13-17) is usually boarding so kids are 100% outside of your view for 4 years and are forcibly made independent.

All kids are sent home with a folder that lists the homework they have due, tests they have taken etc. This just puts it online? Are you saying that putting it online is the issue or that parents should have no insight on what their kids are doing unless the kid decides to tell the parent?

> parents should have no insight on what their kids are doing unless the kid decides to tell the parent

As a kid this is exactly what I believed. Parents believe otherwise, of course.

Do you have children? Honest question.

Also don't have kids. I'm in my 30s. Totally agree with the other commenter. As a kid in school, I had to learn to be responsible for things, it was my responsibility to decide what I could handle on my own and what I told my parents about, and I paid the price when I dropped the ball. Yeah, there are always a few kids who need more help learning these skills than others, and I could see the app in the hands of good parents being useful. But I don't want to live in a world full of people whose parents never trusted them.

I feel like one of those old people complaining that "kids these days aren't allowed to go play on their own, climb a tree, scrape their knees, etc". But this seems really troubling on a whole new psychological level. IMO kids need autonomy to mature, which can't happen if their parent can "magically" know anything.

Your parents already had access to the app, just in the form of a folder you were sent home with that had everything printed out. This is just a digitized version, its not the 2nd coming of the Gestapo. Also you need to think about this from the perspective of the parents, having kids in school mean you have to do things, you can either be informed ahead of time and do them in a leisurely manner or you can find out last minute, rush everything and get stressed. The app helps people avoid that stress. You are young, I am surprised you are anti the digitization of something that has been inefficient for so long; and trust me if you have kids in school you would know just how frustrating it is to keep track of everything that is going on or due.

It sounds like you may have had a very unorthodox childhood and may not realize it. No, my parents didn't have access to, or knowledge about my things. As soon as you entrust a child with a document, it is up to that child whether that document survives more than a few steps out of the classroom, let alone whether a parent ever knows about it. That is a very strong form of autonomy, important to a child's development, that the app completely eliminates.

The stress you are talking about seems to me like the hallmark of an overbearing parent. Let your child fail sometimes. That's ok, they need to experience that, that's how you learn. You can't let them think that someone else will always take care of the things they don't. You're not doing them any favors by ensuring they always succeed.

I think maybe we are thinking of distinctly different age groups. My kids are in elementary school, they are sent home with a folder everyday that lists what is due. Teacher told us at the beginning of the year that this would happen. If my kid suddenly did not bring his folder home I would know something was wrong.

"The stress you are talking about seems to me like the hallmark of an overbearing parent" Maybe but I have kids, and most of the parents I know are the same way, so I guess there are a ton of us that are wrong. Your opinion may change once you have kids.

"Let your child fail sometimes. That's ok, they need to experience that, that's how you learn." Appreciate the advice and I accept it as its advice I would have given when I did not have kids, thought I had it all figured out and believed raising kids was easy.

We should leave them out on the hills to fend for themselves, feeding them will only make them weak! /s

You overdramatise the point, but yes!

You feed the toddler.

You pack and give food to the 5-10 year old. They feed themselves.

You supervise the 10-teenageish to gather/pack their own food.

After "teenageish" you do in fact leave them out on the hills to fend for themselves...

... and part of fending for yourself, is to know when to ask for help. But the terms of help is hopefully between two capable humans at that point.

In the school system, I would expect that teachers are not asking 5-10 year olds to do complicated tasks. But to do simple tasks outside of school hours (homework) and know how to dress on any given day is totally appropriate. Parents can assist their kid to be so organised as and how they can. But the kid themselves are responsible to the school if they aren't.

> know how to dress on any given day is totally appropriate

No, 5year-olds can't [all] track the three different "special" outfit days in a week and know whether to take in the clothes or dress in them in the morning. Many five-year-olds don't know which day comes after which, and most don't have literary skills to write themselves a reminder or to log on to a computer calendar and check. They need parental help. I can tell you that some of us parents find it difficult to track these things and keep everything straight, too.

Teachers absolutely do ask children to do tasks they can't achieve on their own (eg. I guess maybe rich families might have all the stuff to do an impromptu craft project but if you need pipe-cleaners and black card to make a spider for Hallowe'en then you need an adult to shop for/with you). But parent-child cooperative projects lead to better outcomes and children feel more engaged when their parents take part with them.

In our house there's no space in our kitchen for each person to make their own sandwiches, and that would be super inefficient. But yes, teenagers could take turns making for everyone; that's not good for our family though.

When you let elementary school children fail constantly at easy tasks because they forgot about them it just instills in them that the grades don't really matter.

Little children need the habit formation brought on by asking if their homework is done everyday, how they're doing in school, and if there are any upcoming projects because they just don't have the discipline at that age usually. As they get older these checks can lessen if they've formed the correct habits. It also emphasizes that their education is important to you so that they realize it probably should be important to them.

Some children form it earlier than others but you're setting your future kid up for failure and being behind early if you think you should be totally hands off with their education.

Also all the other good parents will be ensuring their kids succeed and children start getting sorted out by grades fairly early in their education. Letting them take a bunch of preventable failures early on before they even realize the importance of education, when you do just seems cruel.

You seemed to reinforce the GPs point?

To do all the things you said, does not require me to have an itinerary app or sheet.

It requires me to ask my kid, be involved with my kid, support my kid to be organised.

You spent a lot of effort responding to a strawman that isn't at all the point I'm making.

I think their childhood sounds absolutely normal and you may be the unorthodox one.

> Your parents already had access to the app, just in the form of a folder you were sent home with that had everything printed out.

Where are you from?

In the 7 different (pre-university) schools I went to in Sweden, none of them had paper folders, and only one had a digital platform like this. And that one was only for teachers and students, parents didn't have access.

I'm in the US, and my kids are in elementary school, so mileage may vary.

Not yet.

I can understand personal preference of a child but study after study show that children whose parents are actively involved with their education and schooling get better results.

Active involvement = parent teaches child various skills and ideas, reads books aloud, suggests interesting problems to solve, works together with them on extra-curricular projects, obtains materials and resources related to the child’s personal interests, ...

Micromanaging the completion of their school-assigned busywork is something different.

I don't know if you have kids, I am guessing not, if I am wrong, my apologies. Knowing what your kids have due for school is not micromanaging its a core part of being a good parent. I know if my kid has a math test so it lets me sit down with him and review for his test, it allows me to ensure he knows the basis for whatever comes next in his curriculum. Terribly overbearing parents are not good but I think people are for some reason assuming the worst from this app and more so the parents that use it and it seems very odd to me. I ensure my kids study for their weekly spelling tests for 10 minutes a day, and review with them before tests and that is seen as micromanaging and negative? Strange times.

That's absolutely micromanaging and negative.

The goal of school isn't just to pass the tests. If a kid fails to revise for a test, but it doesn't matter because their parent will just look up the schedule and force them to revise, then they learn nothing beyond what's in the test.

If they fail to revise and as a result do badly at the test, then next time they might actually take the initiative and revise through their own motivation, and that's a far more valuable skill than anything that might actually be in the test.

>That's absolutely micromanaging and negative

Not really. Schooling is largely targeted towards the great masses in the middle of the Bell curve. These kids will need help, prodding, and other forms of encouragement in order to keep their basic schoolwork up.

There are a smaller number of kids on the left and right tails that will, for the former, never make any effort; and for the latter, will require nothing other than support. That's just the way things are, I didn't make it that way, and there is nearly nothing that can be done to change it, and recognizing that fact will do more for most children than trying to pretend it doesn't exist.

The mass of kids who need the aid of their parents are helped when the parents can follow along. I have to use a system similar to the broken Swedish one for my kids. It's a mishmash of various systems, and sometimes teachers just give up and use something else, or use a less appropriate method (like a shared Google doc or similar). Keeping up with simple things like "when is the next math test" is a real chore.

While it would be great to be able to instill "initiative" into the souls of kids, it's unlikely to work. Unless you happen to know of a magick elixir that can do so, in which case there are a crapload of adults who could use a dose of this wizardry.

It helps to not romanticize children. Kids are dumb. Even the smart ones. They have little life experience, and their brains are still wired in such a way that they struggle to see consequences. Most of schooling is just a grind to slowly teach them enough basics that they can operate relatively efficiently. Left to their own devices, they will play games, eat candy, and believe that they will make a living as a Twitch streamer or something equally ridiculous.

Thanks for the feedback on my parenting style Diggsey, I will be on the lookout for a visit from child services for the terrible crime of paying attention to my kids results at school, making sure they do their homework and sitting down and studying with them for their tests. I only hope they can forgive me when they are older.

I’ve learned that once you have dogs or children, everyone else seems to have a very important opinion on what you should do with your own, all related services, etc.

You're saying that the negative results of failing a test should come from the school and not the parent. I don't see why this is true.

A school will grade a student down, but often kids will simply just not care about that unless there's impetus to do so from their peer group or people they rely on as a role models (e.g. parents).

Also, when talking about kids... I think it's useful to clarify what age group you think a particular standard applies to. Kindergarteners need more parent care and management than secondary schoolers. It's more okay for a 6 year old to fail a test, than a 17 year old prepping for university. The stakes are different, and the mental abilities of the child are different. What is reasonable for one is not necessarily reasonable for another.

I see you and GP as arguing slightly different points.

I don't want an itinerary app. I don't want to know the schedule/homework directly.

But I will absolutely ask my kid if they know, and make the point that they should know, and work with them to remediate that if required.

And as they learn I will get to step back a bit at a time and let them go for it.

If they fail to revise and as a result do badly at the test, then next time they might actually take the initiative and revise

Hahaha no. Have you met an 8 year old? Homo economicus they are not.

Interesting strategy. How have your kids performed under it?

Not him, but generally to large extend I have that strategy and kids do well. Both have good grades and are motivated. Obvious caveat is that if their grades were not good, I would get involved more. When their grades fallen a bit, I was there telling them that they need to learn, analyzing test with them and so on and blah blah. When homework was not done, I got involved for a while until the kid got into habit of doing it. Other obvious caveat is that when they ask for help, I always come in to help.

The thing is, hands off approach really works and motivates kids - but it still requires attention and correction. And it does not work with all kids at all ages.

Most people remember 15 years old self and assume kids all ages are as mature as they remember themselves. Meanwhile, most 6 years old are much less developed.

How did you know the homework wasn’t done?

When homework is not done, teacher sends the email. Or gave the kid black point and then the kid was unhappy about it and told me. If it did not, that teacher would also send mail, but after like 2-3 points within short period (don't know the exact rules).

The other option is to ask in the evening "have you done homework". One of my kids would never lie and other only rarely, so it worked.

To add to it, old system was not freedom. One feature of old "parents know only what kids tell them" system was that many parents learned about issues only when inevitable end of semester report/grades came. At that point, issues grew large. Even worst, parents were surprised and shocked, tended to react badly, punish the kid , yell, beat them etc. I remember reading about flux of kids running away each time reports come.

Okay, with this email business we’re back with the “micromanaging”.

In which alternative universe is teacher telling parent that homework 7 years old was not done micromanaging? Even among adults, analyst telling project manager you are not doing tasks right is not micromanaging. Or your peer developer telling pm your quality of work is bad. It is completely absurd.

The whole point of child raising is to raise the child. Not to go "kiddy, if you are not born organized and attentive, tough luck, we gonna do nothing and then blame you for being bad in school when you grow".

Actually, I agree with that position, which is why I started this sub thread curious about how this comment played out https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29108069

My point is that by the standards of that comment, you are micromanaging. I think those standards are ridiculous, though.

Plainly, parents of successful kids are all very involved. This sort of “you sink or swim on your own merits” nonsense is moronic bullshit.

FYI in English "revise" means something like "edit". You probably meant "review". I know in Spanish "revisar" can mean to review, so that caught my eye, and thought you might be tricked by a false cognate.

Perhaps British English?

(US review) to study again something you have already learned, in preparation for an exam: We're revising (algebra) for the test tomorrow.


British English "revise" = American English "study".

Oh, TIL, thanks!

I think it’s good to be involved but an app that passes information to the parent, essentially bypassing the child, is disempowering to the child. The child should know and be able to tell you she has a math test. If she is not good at managing that sort of thing, then she needs to get better. Using an app to circumvent the child’s own management of that stuff is at least similar to micromanaging.

And quite the opposite, it reinforces the idea that they don't need to remember it so they never will.

Are you able to tell us, without looking at your calendar, every meeting you have for the next week, every assigned task without consulting your task manager, all without fail and with perfect recall of the details?

Expecting more from a child's brain than you do of yourself is folly.

Should a child know what calendars are for? It seems like that could be a useful tool for them to have in their toolkit.

At least for my nieces and nephews, they have as much access to their scholastic portal as their parents. So yes, such calendars are absolutely useful tools. A good thing for parents and children to look at together.

And much like their calendars, we do not ourselves set every event that appears on our calendars.

Well I specifically can tell you every meeting and assigned task, but that's because the meetings are at standard hours and I work on larger open ended projects.

I was also absolutely terrible at remembering what's for homework and when the school exams are... so I learned to write it all down in a notebook so I didn't miss anything. No fancy parent control required. That was basically standard practice ingrained from first grade onwards.

> If she is not good at managing that sort of thing, then she needs to get better.

...And how do you think that happens?

"Sarah, I can't help but notice that you have emotional regulation issues. Go get better at it."

I would ask her why she didn’t do well on her math test and encourage her to think about strategies she could use to do better on the next one. I believe in providing scaffolding and empowering young minds. I realize there are different parenting styles but at some point the child won’t have anyone else to manage her and will need to solve problems in her own. It’s great if she has a lot of practice and experience with self management by the time she has to fly solo. I suppose if there’s enough wealth in the family she may never need to manage her own affairs, but I feel like she would be missing out on important aspects of life; the pride and comfort that comes with self sufficiency and personal accomplishment.

"I would ask her why she didn’t do well on her math test and encourage her to think about strategies she could use to do better on the next one." How has that worked with your own kids? If my kid comes home with an F on a test, they don't want me to sit down and think about strategies. They are going to probably be upset (if they think academics are important) or not care at all (not a great alternative). First thing your kids wants is just to be told its fine and that they will do better on the next one. But them doing better on the next one will not result from giving them strategies, they are kids, you have to sit down with them, go over the subject matter and discuss it with them to ensure they understand.

"I feel like she would be missing out on important aspects of life; the pride and comfort that comes with self sufficiency and personal accomplishment." letting kids fail a ton of stuff in school so that they can learn better strategies sounds good in practice but in reality it will probably end up in the kid feeling terrible about themselves, and mentally resigning themselves to academic failure. Kids don't need strategy they need to know their family cares about them and are actively there to support and work with them.

I kind of think you two are talking past each other here. By 'encourage her to think about strategies', I think the OP does mean to show that they love and support the child. That'd fall under the category of encouragement, and they probably think it's obvious that you'd take care of their emotional and mental health while problem solving.

On the other hand, you seem to be anti-strategy but you say that you need to 'sit down with them, go over the subject matter and discuss it with them to ensure they understand'. Isn't going over the material a strategy to do better next time?

It may be that the word 'strategy' is just ill defined here. I mean, this isn't the military, so isn't a valid strategy the application of any plan whether it be as simple as "hey kid, study before the test" or "let me teach you English-comprehension personally"?

> ask her why she didn’t do well on her math test

That sounds like a reasonable approach for some parent-kid combinations. But as far as this discussion goes...

It was about an app that provided information like grades and that a test was coming up with the parent. It sounds like it would be a perfectly fine complement to your approach, no?

I don't see how it is some sort of replacement that is going to make everyone into helicopter parents. (And the problem with helicopter parents is not caused by some app.) In fact, I have trouble seeing how it intrudes more than the entirely nondigital approach to school-parent communication used when I was a kid - bring back this piece of paper with a parent's signature.

You expect that from 6 years old? They can't even read and write.

School age kids don't start at 14 when you can discuss strategies. It starts at 6 when the kid starts mostly confused and excited.

Active involvement would be talking to your children and asking them what they have for school.

Looking up their schedule on a website is passive involvement.

I'm relieved these systems didn't exist when I was a child.

If there's one thing I remember from my own childhood, and know from my various nieces and nephews - children can't be expected to tell the whole truth, or sometimes even remember the whole truth.

One bad test, one missed homework, turns into a spiral of shame that makes children hide the truth out of a fear for their parent's and other trusted adults' disappointment (real or imagined). If my parents knew the truth - when I know the truth - we can fix it before it spirals into an unfixable situation, and not after.

Not all children are perfect, nor perfectly able to remember every event and assignment they have.

Of course these systems existed, they just used paper or other mediums. Did you not receive calendars, directory books or yearbooks, permission slip for upcoming museum trip, etc? Save the date slip or important school numbers magnet for the fridge?

(Reading about people) breaking Blackboard et al was some of the best fun in school days....

My oldest kid is 5, but I hope when he is older I can leave him to handle his own schoolwork (offering help if he wants it).

> study for their weekly spelling tests for 10 minutes a day

Aside: Spending 1.5+ hours per week between home and school studying spelling per se in the way students typically study spelling is an outrageous waste of time.

Arguably studying spelling per se is a waste of time in any quantity (as compared to spending that time on intrinsically motivated reading and writing, and learning how to spell as a side effect), but anyone who cares enough about this to devote hundreds of hours to it should set up some kind of spaced repetition system.

> I can leave him to handle his own schoolwork

It turns out that kids are not adults. Part of raising them is teaching them life skills such as time management is something that takes a of time and management. You may be lucky and have a child that manages time well, or you may have a contrarian that does what they want. Part of being that manager, is knowing exactly what you are managing and having readily available data is part of that.

I am contrary. Around 12, I rejected homework, learned to manipulate and lie instead. It took many detentions and frustrated parents to get me reoriented. I can completely understand kids who don't like being told to be a rote learning little worker bee who does what's told without question. Why do this at all? Why do it this way? No one else cares, they just want it over with as fast as possible, but the same crap comes up over and over again as if to make kids comfortable being bored, and doing what they're told. It's such magnificent bullcrap.

Rejoice if your kid is difficult. They see a problem. Adults need to help them understand it.

If your kid is a critical thinker and has problems with the school system, but is still learning, that's fine. If your kid is two years behind his age group in mathematics- that's less fine.

Part of being a good parent in this scenario is being able to tell the difference. Data can probably help- is my kid getting a D because he doesn't turn things in, or because he can't do long division?

Hacker: Education in this country is a disaster. We're supposed to be preparing children for a working life. Three quarters of the time they're bored stiff!

Sir Humphrey: Well I should have thought that being bored stiff for three quarters of the time was an excellent preparation for working life.

- Yes Minister (Season 2, Episode 7 : National Education System)

sure, studying spelling is probably a waste of time with today's technology but that doesn't change the fact that he has a spelling test every Friday and he is going to feel better about himself if he passes vs fails. Its not a bad thing to set your kids up to succeed within the given system. Its fine to be a rebel but you must also understand that going to school involves testing and as a parent you don't always get to choose the subjects. I very much think that the self esteem my kid gains from getting good grades and actually learning to study is well worth the horror of having to spend a few minutes a day with his dad hanging out, practicing spelling, learning math and chatting about their day.

If you want to set your kid to succeed at spelling tests per se (and he doesn’t have enough past reading/writing experience to know the words already), you could get a list of likely words a few months in advance and put them into some kind of spaced repetition system (whether electronic or based on paper flash cards).

You’ll pay back your initial time investment within a month or two, and you’ll end up with a dramatic improvement to efficiency and long-term retention, as well as teaching a useful tool/skill that can be put to good effect if the kid ever needs to memorize trivia for med school or bar quizzes.

Trying to cram-learn a new list of miscellaneous things every week is a fool’s game. The key to human memory is connections, context, and repeated exposure, not brute-force effort.

Personally I always just read science fiction books hidden in my lap during spelling time in school, and my teachers gave up on trying to get me to study lists of words I already knew how to spell. My older brother’s strategy was to just do poorly on spelling tests because he thought it was a waste of time: never seemed to hurt him, and decades later he can spell as well as anyone. YMMV.

I don't really know why you have to have kids to have an opinion. All of us have been kids, and "I hated things like this for reasons I couldn't express at the time and certainly wasn't allowed to express at the time, in retrospect it was not effective for me, and in retrospect it soured my relationship with my parents as an adult" is a valid argument.

The parents using this system have also been kids. Not having kids means that you have not had to deal with the frustration of trying to figure out what is going on with your kids at school. Knowledge is a very important part of making decisions for your kids and the more knowledge you have as a parent the better. No one is suggesting that the parent have intimate details of everything going on with their kids but the reaction to a simple app that allows the parent to know what homework is due and if there is a test is a little dramatic. Everyone is entitled to an opinion on anything, no one is saying they aren't but to ignore that parents and non parents may have different insight on something like this is disingenuous.

I know you have kids, so you're too close to the situation to have an unbiased view, but realize that the math is only a small part of what your child is learning here. They also need to know how to judge for themselves whether they are prepared, they need to know how to seek out help from you or a tutor when they don't. Similarly, they need to learn what happens when they don't do these things and just assume someone else will do it for them.

You are doing your child a disservice by ensuring they are always prepared for every challenge they face.

"You are doing your child a disservice by ensuring they are always prepared for every challenge they face." I think you are very much reading too far into the situation. I am making sure my 7 and 10 year old do their homework. They know there are consequences for not doing it because I explain to them that there are. Kids don't have to get hit by a car to know to look both ways, they just need the parent to tell them. I understand you don't have kids and so are coming at this from a theoretical position, but theory and a live breathing, emotional child are very different things. You could argue that this is the way you were raised and you turned out great, but everyone was raised differently and most of the people on this site probably turned out pretty well when compared to the majority of society at least from a financial and capability perspective.

"so you're too close to the situation to have an unbiased view, but realize that the math is only a small part of what your child is learning here" I appreciate the perspective, on the other hand you don't have kids so have not experienced the situation at all. The idea that a parent is doing a young child a disservice by sitting with them, reviewing their homework and discussing their day is pretty strange. I wish you well when you have children of your own. Now if you will excuse me I have to go and tell Brady how to improve the snap in his throws.

Edit: "I know you have kids, so you're too close to the situation to have an unbiased view, but realize that the math is only a small part of what your child is learning here". Your argument boils down to people without kids are the best people to know what is best for kids as people with kids are too close to the situation. That makes no sense and I disagree.

if parents want to do this, they should know they kids have exam... just one semester failue on exam, kids will start escape and "forgot" homework and more test, if parent work too hard they even have no chance find it...

I guess this comes down to the definition of actively involved versus overbearing.

There is a fine, fine, fine line to walk between the two. Knowing how your kid is doing, asking questions, and being interested in their schooling is okay. Using it to force action without learning consequence is not.

It is, sometimes, okay for a kid to miss an assignment because they're not great at time management. That's how they learn consequences for their actions.

Anyway, you two have a fundamental disagreement, I believe, about the level of interaction and control required to be involved.

Correlation does not equal causation. Parents more involved in school are more likely to be involved at home more generally.

Kids primarily benefit from parents education and their engagement in their children. But more by providing stimuli, not by surveillance.

This isn't a black and white issue and as I said, it depends on their age. As I understand it we are talking about more or less preteens here.

I was a bit happy for sometimes getting help with reviewing homework and someone to practice English words with (that is, one of my parents). And who reminded me of things I'd forgotten, be it homework or the sports bag.

Some people here (not you) seem to think that one shoe fits all -- that because they didn't want the parents to be involved, that's what best for everyone.

When in fact kids (and grown up people too) can be very different from each other

I don't know anyone personally whose parents were involved with them during their school years and they achieved moderate or high grades.

That assumes an environment that your parents will be actively involved and understand how to use the non functional swedish site.

It is not like this would be secret in the past. The ones most likely yo not tell are actually 6-7 years old who genuinely forgot and then are stressed cause teacher is complains.

But kids have to do a lot of things they don’t want to do. Going to school in the first place is often one of them.

> it is very useful to be able to look up what the kids have scheduled for the day to determine what to dress them in

I swear we just had an A4 piece of paper with my lessons on it on the fridge.

And printing out a schedule for every child is a bit silly when there is calendaring software...

Everything once done on paper is now done electronically - and revisions (fixes) happen much more quickly to boot.

You're not wrong, but, my school timetable changed once every quarter, that was sort of feature. It's not work, no one is flying in from $city on $day to kick off a project, students and teachers would follow a routine, it was easy.

Frankly there are some aspects of it I miss...

Wut? Does the school do anything that involves stuff that you need to dress differently for?

Even when doing PE I’d always bring a separate bag of gym clothes.

It is literally the same thing then. If one is not causing outrage, nor should the other.

I'm not against the app, but the use cases you gave sound like things the child needs to learn to do. If they have gym, they need to be responsible for remembering their stuff. If the cafeteria has food they don't like, maybe they learn to develop new tastes that day. And most importantly, I'd they have homework or tests that are due, the child should 1000% be solely responsible for this.

As you mention, I guess it can be a useful tool for a parent to keep their kid on track, because yeah obviously they're learning and they'll be forgetful. But IMO it would also make it too easy for an overbearing parent to prevent their child from learning important life skills, thinking they're helping.

Back when I was in school we had a schedule, for the semester. That worked perfectly well for me and my parents. Our kitchen had a pin board with these schedules pinned to it. After a month or so we all had a new schedule internalized anyway. As for food, we had a cafeteria which served warm meals, usually at least two different options, and various other things like sandwiches, along with two "kiosks" where the janitors's wives sold some more snacks and sandwiches. And there was a supermarket across the street. I never had a packed lunch, ever, simply because there was no need for it. If I really hated the hot meals of the day, I would get a sandwich. We kids didn't really keep to the schedules anyway, we sometimes went early or stayed late to make use of the table tennis, foosball (or "kicker" as it's called in Germany) or billard tables, or play board games (our school had a sizable collection of these), or play soccer (or "football" as it is called correctly) outside on the school's fields. Mom's only order was to call her (from a pay phone inside the school) if we stayed longer than 1h, so she didn't need to worry (dad was at work). Pickups weren't a problem in this system, as we would always take the public bus or bike when it was warm enough. Our school had something like 1200-1500 students, and about only 30-50 were dropped off and picked up by parents regularly, simply because they lived in some tiny villages somewhere with shitty bus service.

Homework and test prep was supposed to be managed by the students, not their parents, anyway, but most classes had just printed exercises and/or a sheet of what to expect in tests, so parents could always just check that. Test were also in about the same weeks of every semester, so my parents might not have known the exact dates unless they asked and I told them, but they knew that tests were happening. My parents kept interest, asked me how it was going regularly, if I needed help with something, when the tests are and what my results were, and so on. I think so it makes a big difference in the kid's experience if the parent asks them, or if the parent essentially goes over their head and consults some online resource.

I personally was too proud to want help with school work from my parents from an early age on, and even felt that it only slowed me down; I wanted to be outside with my friends not slowly working through the homework as a team exercise. My grades were good, so my parents let me do my stuff. My sisters (they are twins) needed some help in some areas (they are very likely partially dyslexic), and got it.

Should the grades of a student change abruptly for the worse or remain at a low level, teachers would just call up parents and discuss the situation and suggest ways to improve, and the semester reports had to be signed by a parent anyway, and that signature had to be presented at school.

This was mid to late 90s by the way, my mid and "high" school time. In elementary school my parents were still more hands-on, of course.

I too find "digital child managing systems" rather dystopian, enabling parents to micro-manage their kids even more, which I am convinced is not good for the kid's overall development. There has to be a balance between the parents need to care for a kid (and the care a kid actually needs, of course) and letting the kid grow up, and I feel such systems push that balance too much away from teaching kids self-reliance and let them make minor "educational" mistakes on their own.

Then again, I of course realize that each kid has it's own needs, and some need a fair bit of micro-management at times.

>what to dress them in

May I ask, how old are your kids? Sounds like they are still young, if you dress them? Then of course, more micro-managing makes more sense. The younger the more care kids need.

Kids are 7 and 10. I am targeting my comments more towards that age group. With that said though, I don't discount such a system towards highschool kids as well. I think most parents have a good relationship with their children and would understand on a case by case basis how to utilize the information they are given. I do think it is good to provide parents with the option of using this information though as they should know their kids the best.

"This was mid to late 90s by the way, my mid and "high" school time" You are probably the same age as me. :)

"I too find "digital child managing systems" rather dystopian, enabling parents to micro-manage their kids even more, which I am convinced is not good for the kid's overall development." The system in question is just a digital calendar essentially I think far to much malevolence is being attributed to such a simple tool.

I very much don't think packing the kids a lunch, reviewing their homework and seeing when their next tests are is micro managing, but obviously everyone is coming from different starting points.

My parents did not involve themselves in my schooling much at all. I graduated with straight A's, skipped school all the time, only did homework if it was graded and barely studied except for classes like chemistry or physics and went to college on a full ride. Then I failed out of college twice because no one had ever sat down with me taught me how to study and learn or made me think that study was important. I think I would have done much better at college if my parents had worked with me as a kid. Still love my parents though and think they were good parents.

My approach to other parents is I generally assume they are doing the best they can, mean well for their kids and will use whatever tools they have in that spirit.

The main problem with the current set of schooling management systems is that they require a lot of work from parents to extract any useful information, and that level of effort amplifies an imbalance between parents having the time and ability and the parents that don't.

What would have been helpful to me as a parent (while my children were enrolled in school) would have been a short weekly email, one from each teacher/class, simply summarizing the topic for the next week or two. That* would be useful in helping parents engage with their children before the material is covered in class. Instead my experience over the past four years has led me to believe that most teachers and school administrators are very poor communicators.

* Another option would be for teachers to provide a course syllabus at the start of each semester. But for whatever reason teachers no longer provide those, either because they think the online stuff is sufficient (it's not) or because they haven't planned ahead.

>I think so it makes a big difference in the kid's experience if the parent asks them, or if the parent essentially goes over their head and consults some online resource.

This is the important point most everyone here glosses over. It's hard to discipline a child and make them cooperate in a system of trust. It's much easier to eliminate the trust out. As a stressed parent (and lets be honest, every parent is a stressed parent) you don't have the time and patience for this. I think most of us on the opposite end of this discussion lament this.

In my opinion this is a type of failure you cannot, and should not optimize out. Children's personalities are different. Certain behaviors induce certain rewards and consequences. Failure is part of the development process of their personalities.

I'd also say that a school denying access to this information should rightly expect pointy and sharp questions coming at them. Parents being part of the education system shouldn't come as a surprise to a school. It would be like hiding the school timetable.

Usual common sense caveats still apply: Privacy and authentication are still valid aspects but not to block those who could reasonably expect to successfully authenticate, eg a parent of a kid in school.

> its very helpful to look up what homework / tests are due as the kids tend to not manage this so well themselves

How do you expect they'll develop these sorts of self-starter skills and mental models, besides experiencing things like the (comparatively low-impact!) consequences of not handing in your 5th grade homework....?

Hopefully you're going full parabola and also providing disproportionately strong incentives to do the "right" behaviors, because otherwise it's as likely they'll succeed as they'll become sand through your tight grasp.

The reactions people are expressing to a parent stating they like to know what their kids are up to in school and what assignments are due is pretty odd.

"it's as likely they'll succeed as they'll become sand through your tight grasp" lol, I have no idea how my statement on working with my kids on their homework and liking to know what is going on has evolved into an image of me being some sort of god king in my house, but hey whatever makes you happy.

My kids have homework, I sit down with them and work on it with them, we bond, we joke around, they learn and they turn it in the next day. The horror.

Edit: "How do you expect they'll develop these sorts of self-starter skills" To add some color, my 9 year old decided at the spur of the moment while they were asking who wanted to stand up and give a speech to be on student council to do it and he won. I had no input and he just made the decision in the moment so I very much don't think sitting down with kids and doing homework with them or keeping an eye on their schedule kills any self-starter skills. There are always extremes but the overall reaction to this is a bit silly.

What you propose is to not teach them nor give them gradually more responsibilities.

You literally demand the system in which kids are expected to be well organized. If they are not they will be punished until they learn to be organized. If they don't despite punishments in school, parents won't be told until end of year. Then they get the surprising final report and only thing they can do is to yell at kids or something.

That is rather poor pedagogy.

Migrate them to keeping their own calendar, rather then using the old fashioned way of a mixture of scribbling stuff in random places and not giving a shift

> I think this digital child managing system sounds moderately dystopian to be honest.

I think you misunderstand the point of the system. It's much more mundane than that. The system just replaces paper notices going home with kids and getting lost in their book bags, looking phone numbers to report you child out sick, etc. It's not brave new world, it's simply replacing paper and phone tasks with an app.

Yes! I recall all of these kinds of things being available and used when I was a child well before cell phones existed. Photocopied calendars. Sheets of paper a reticent child would carry around to their teachers for weekly reports. Report cards. Teachers calling parents when more attention was needed.

> I think this digital child managing system sounds moderately dystopian to be honest.

A lot of the reactions and rebuttals to this comment are from HN childless people, whose perspective is their memory of being a child age 12-17, talking past HN people with children, whose perspective is about their kids age 5-12. At one end of the range you are educating about drugs and sex and good decisions, on the other end of the range you are worried about clean butts and walking across busy streets.

The method of CREATING an older child who can be an independent and functional adult is by "MICROMANAGING" early-on so they develop good habits (especially good habits of independence!). And I am a Montessori parent which is fairly radical compared to the normal US system.

Thank you for making this comment, it very much rings true as a parent whose child is far to young to ever be thinking about planning her own day.

It appears to manage attendance and grades among other things. I'm not sure what this has to do with Chromebooks.

Such devices are part of their strategy for digitization as is this school app. Sweden spends a decent amount of money on education.

But if look at a purely educational value any notebook beats a tablet aside for art. Purely technical knowledge is also better gained in more open environments. Depends on age I guess.

There are different schools of thought, some people would rather have the kids home-schooled or completely different like Montessori, Steiner... so maybe the critique comes from that direction.

Yeah, but what does that have to do with a school app?

This is all information that the parent would have anyway. Lunch isn't private information, the curriculum isn't private information, tests and homework as well isn't private, its just that it was all a shit ton of minutia that typically didn't get memorized by any individual.

Part of being a parent is helping your child navigate and learn about the world. Having this sort of information - what are the details about what this institution is offering on a daily basis - sounds invaluable.

> I think this digital child managing system sounds moderately dystopian to be honest. I would have hated to give my parents access to anything like this. Kids will of course learn from how their parents behave...

I don't really disagree but we are in an era where children's academic outcomes are based entirely on parental involvement. Scratch any surface of any under-performer lightly and the cry will go up "The schools can't be blamed for poor parenting!"

I think we rarely acknowledge that this is a recent development. Ask most Gen-Xers ( me ), ask boomers, ask greatest generationers if you know any. "How involved were your parents in your schoolwork?". You'll probably get a blank stare - "None?".

I suspect it started with the "Asians are going to beat us" panic from the 80s. They were killing us in math scores and if we weren't careful we'd all be working for them someday. In retrospect the danger was exaggerated.

Now, however, heavy parental involvement is required for kids to succeed. If the kids don't finish their homework - could it be that they are getting to much homework? Nah, it must be bad parents. If they can't pass the tests, could it be their teachers have not prepared them? Nope - the parents should have been spending their evenings going though flash cards.

It only exacerbates the difference between that haves and have nots. If you don't have a parent who can devote time every day to overseeing your education, you're out of luck.

Every edutech platform I've ever had to use (UK, with 3 kids going through school) is an abomination, the whole sector needs disrupting. My current nemesis is Iris Parentmail [0], a convoluted jumble of javascript that presents the user with a challenge - try to read the apparently important message the school has sent you before Parentmail crashes your browser. If the message is particularly long, then there's an end of level boss where you have to try to read the whole thing before the laptop gives you third degree burns. HNers, please, disrupt the hell out of this sector because it's nothing but chancers, consultants and chancer consultants.

[0] https://www.iris.co.uk/education/engagement-suite/iris-paren...

For anyone who's been burned by these:

Why aren't you equally as mad at the personnel at your child's school? It's one thing for a national or semi-national rollout of broken enterprise junk, it's another thing for your child's instructor to go along and demand that you use this broken system instead of providing reasonable affordances (e.g. low-tech, paper-based notices/forms that get sent home with your kid).

For that matter, how do your school systems handle the situation where no one in the household is able or willing to install the damn thing because e.g. you don't own an iOS or Android device, or you have no smartphone at all? Is there an actual legal requirement for you to contribute on an ongoing basis to the bottom-line of select tech companies like Apple and Google in order to participate in public life—as if it's on par with the necessity to pay for e.g. renewing your government-issued ID?

>it's another thing for your child's instructor to go along and demand that you use this broken system instead of providing reasonable affordances

I am not sure, but it might be that the teachers are not only encouraged but required to use these systems?

>you don't own an iOS or Android device, or you have no smartphone at all? Is there an actual legal requirement for you to contribute on an ongoing basis to the bottom-line of select tech companies like Apple and Google in order to participate in public life—as if it's on par with the necessity to pay for e.g. renewing your government-issued ID?

That really became a problem here in Germany, when politicians proclaimed that "digital/remote learning" will safe the day in covid times. Not realizing that a lot of kids, especially in the poor neighborhoods, nor their parents, actually have any capable devices for that. Or fast enough internet (with enough mobile data) to support zoom meetings and such each day.

> Or fast enough internet (with enough mobile data) to support zoom meetings and such each day.

Even is wealthier neighborhoods, with what we thought as pretty decent cabled internet, having everyone log in full-time and YouTube/video conferencing like crazy killed the connection speeds to a rate we haven't seen since the 90s.

You should not underestimate the power of “ISO-9000” in European institutions (including schools) and the “necessity” of an official “document trail” of everything.

I lecture at a Uni and it has not reached me yet but am expecting it.

> Why aren't you equally as mad at the personnel at your child's school? It's one thing for a national or semi-national rollout of broken enterprise junk, it's another thing for your child's instructor to go along and demand that you use this broken system instead of providing reasonable affordances

You don't expect people who face no consequences for anything short of criminal conduct to change their behavior. Being mad at civil servants is like being mad at the weather and only slightly more likely to accomplish anything.

I work with these systems in my day job, and yes, if any one wants to work on this problem I would love to be a part of it.

Ah the joy of public procurement in Sweden. It's basically an extremely long requirement gathering process where the company the can promise the most for the least amount of money wins. Only problem is that the people ordering this are not the users and they just want to cover their backs, meaning that behemoths usually win because they're more trustworthy.

I was in edu-tech world for a while in Sweden. The most frustrating thing is that even if you have a good product that your users enjoy you will fail because you can't sell it to individual schools. You have to sell it to all the schools in the entire county, which just means that some giant actor will swoop in promise the world for a dollar and then we have this.

The silliest part of the story is that Stockholm decided to build their own system, mostly because of dick-swinging reasons, because the actual needs of schoolchildren and parents across the country aren't that different!

It should be perfectly possible to have the same underlying system across the entire country.

And in a perfect world, there would be some kind of common API for all schools, and a competing app ecosystem where parents and teachers and children can pick the one they like the best.

> The platform is a complex system that’s made up of three different parts, containing 18 individual modules that are maintained by five external companies. The sprawling system is used by 600 preschools and 177 schools, with separate logins for every teacher, student, and parent. The only problem? It doesn’t work. > The Skolplattform, which has cost more than 1 billion Swedish Krona, SEK, ($117 million), has failed to match its initial ambition.

So JIRA for Schools failed. It's a top down system, where people on top decide to solve problems for all people below, without really knowing how to solve it, or what the problem even is. And then contractors get involved.

People are willing to put up with this if you can press them, e.g. they are at work, they are in the army etc. so they have to put up with it, but it's not going to work for anything else. It attempts to solve everything for everyone, where it's questionable if most of these things are even worth solving. E.g. from the article, what is somebody's child doing in school, what do they need in gym class. You might just ask them, no? There are quarterly or so meetings with the teacher to discuss things, progress, problems? The problem is not that the menus are convoluted, but that maybe most of this stuff is not worth categorizing, not worth having an UI other than a piece of paper.

What is particularly insulting is the needless API/URL changes made in the official app in order to sabotage the efforts of the parents.

The Google Play listing should have had a "Mismanagement Count" prominently displayed that incremented every time this happened. The log, and the time spent, should be in court.

The parents decided to build this front end for free. They did not decide to play hide and seek with the interfaces, and for this they deserve compensation.

Yeah, it's like they go out of their way to break compatibility with anyone trying to integrate with their services out of spite. What a pain.

So an app for schoolkids is a really good idea. In France the app is built by the (semi-public) post office, it's called "kidscare". teachers can upload photos live, you can set who is allowed to pick up your kids, you can send a notification if your kid is sick etc... not the slickest or most stable app, but miles better than using whatsapp

KidScare is how I first read that.

Our sons preschool (a Montessori school) has something similar. It is really nice. Daily updates on what he did, pictures of him throughout the day doing things, it’s amazing.

We have many of these in the US. I've used two in daycare. One was amazing, the other is pretty good. Both fall short because of poor use by teachers and faculty.

Its difficult to evaluate the value of the info, if no one can find it because its buried in menus then yes it is useless but that doesn't mean it cant be useful, in general if its worth printing its worth putting on your website.

I don't get the point of non web apps because usually they are just a subset of the website.

Rather its that the goverment funded development resulted in a bad product. People reimplementing it in a their spare time resulted in an even better product.

More likely the MVP covered all the basics that the platform should do. Then all the rest of the legal requirements had to be implemented and that broke it. Support for secret identities, all the special needs, support for non employees, legal guardians and a million other things which is important for the last 5%. It would probably be cheaper to give those with special requirements personal support than to write the code for it

"We don't have an open API"

Sure you do. You just don't know it yet.

This could be a variant of http://hyrumslaw.com

JackFr's law: With sufficiently angered users of a private API, they will build an better, open API around it.


The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. John Gilmour

Even before the open app came along, people found enormous security holes in the system, because they were essentially operating with security-by-obscurity. It was super embarrassing for the city, they had to close the system for days while fixing it.

The official system has a mobile app, where it takes effort to figure out the API, and a SPA web app, where it is absolutely trivial to see which endpoints it is hitting and how.

And the ridiculousness of the city's defense that it's not open is made greater by the fact that if they had made an open API from the start, security should have been baked in from the start, which means they would have avoided embarrassing security incidents along the way. They already have all the components needed for a proper, public API. They're so close, and yet they're insisting that it's private, and that it's illegal to access their private API.

Like twitch's unexpected open source offsite code backup.

I audibly chuckled at your comment. Thanks for the laugh !

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing illegal.

On the other hand, that is a very good excuse for those who want to do evil.

No, the whole point of the quote is that Illegal does not equate evil. Helping slaves escape was illegal

Or for tricking good people into doing evil.

"Don't worry, everybody takes the juice!"

The most hilarious part is the official app was built by five different contracting companies. No wonder the thing was a mess.

A long time ago some teammates (prior to my joining the company) had been assigned to work on some VA related health system, turned out they were 8 levels sub contractors, i.e. sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-contractors. Project never shipped.

It still boggles my mind how ANYONE would sign off on a setup like this. How does no one see that this will fail without a single doubt.

because no one has a view of the whole system.

What I want to know: did they have to fill in their time reports in 8+ systems, one worse than the other?

When I was a subcontractor, the most I had to do was 3 (customer and 2 consultancies), and even that was a major hassle.

>What I want to know: did they have to fill in their time reports in 8+ systems, one worse than the other?

OMG, I do not miss filling out three fucking timesheets as a salaried employee.

One via MS Access, which was believe it or not, the least painful. One on fucking paper, because why shouldn't programmers use paper for timesheets? And last, but definitely not least one via PHONE. Where you have to enter your employee number and hours via a fucking PHONE KEYPAD. Oh, and they would nag a company of 250,000 to do it early so that the accounting team of like 5 could go home on time on Friday.

One of the many reasons I don't miss that job.

This was the first thing that jumped out at me as well. I've worked on govt. contracts and when you put >1 contractor on the same project they become competitors. They will sabotage each other in the hopes of winning a larger share in the future. And beyond that they have absolutely no incentive to help each other. Their managers aren't going to pay them to make the other contractors code work better.

"best of breed" + "we want to avoid vendor lock-in" :(

Seems on par with most state-sponsored IT project here in Scandinavia.

Big consulting firms involved, billions spent, horrible products shipped.

> To do so, the city struck a deal with an external provider that will be able to set up licenses between Öppna Skolplattformen and the city. “With this solution, the City of Stockholm can guarantee that personal data is handled in a correct and secure way, while parents can take part in the market’s digital tools in their everyday lives”

Licensing does nothing to guarantee that your systems are secure, and the overall law is what enforces the correct handling of personal data by outside parties. But in this paper pusher's head, anything she cannot control through a contract must be a threat. And so she will spend public money wielding the police department against individuals actually building stuff, to force them into signing her safety blanket of a contract.

In 2021, it behooves us to remember that this type of gatekeeper used to be in control of nearly every technology organization - empty suits who knew nothing technical, thinking security is about checking off certifications and qualifications. It was a rare gem to find someone with a clue who held enough organizational pull to set policy.

I remember having a meeting with the head of the campus network at my university, who was concerned about me running Linux on my own machine. He just couldn't understand the point of Linux - he could never trust it because "there is no one to sue". As if suing Microsoft would have ever been a sensible path. But that was his worldview - how do you think he responded to security reports?

But the thing that we need to realize in 2021 is that it's not like these people just left and found honest jobs - their existence was eclipsed by the much larger technical-first community. They're still out there, controlling their little fiefdoms, reacting in the same destructive ways to stop themselves from looking "bad". And with the calcification of technology, they might even be poised for a comeback.

> He just couldn't understand the point of Linux - he could never trust it because "there is no one to sue"

Well, I guess enterprises can just "buy" linux from RedHat/Suse and get some corp to sue.

That past interaction stuck with me so hard, I definitely think of companies selling services around Free software in those terms. From my adult perspective it's an understandable business dynamic, but we shouldn't be condoning it from public servants.

Open APIs is what we need because too many programs are badly designed. Unfortunately, the API may also be badly designed, but sometimes it is OK. Designing the open API may also avoid the data breach due to making less likely that the design is not designed in the way to cause such a breach, I should expect.

User interfaces seem bad enough that I think it might be better to design the API primarily and even only the API; you can then just use that. If it is simple enough, it can be used from command-line interfaces, and others, easily enough if a protocol is designed well enough to support such multiple uses in a simple way. (It can even make the form automatically too, with the user's display settings rather than using the form author's CSS or whatever.)

However, they also should not require schools to use such a app, especially to require one of their locked systems only. You can do education without it, too. That doesn't mean such a system is useless (you can use it if you find it useful), only that it is possible to work without it, too. They didn't used to have such a app in the school and shouldn't require it now either; it can be voluntary.

This is not a story about failure - it's common and unremarcable both in government and corporate.

This story is amazing because it shows society at it's best, people got together organised and resolved a common problem.

They did this without corporate or government power structures. We should remember importance of this third institution and cherish it, it gets little lime in the limelight, and it's the most precious of them all.

Government should learn from that self organized teams who work for passion build better software. Authoritarian dictators mandating a poor solution vs self lead, self organized, committed parents building a piece of software they will instantly dogfood.

I agree with the main point of your comment but calling the people trying to shut this down “authoritarian dictators” erodes the meaning of the phrase.

s/authoritarian dictators/power hungry, desperate to remain in power/

Or, far more likely, people who don’t understand this stuff worried that they are gonna get sued because they let private data be accessed illegally.

And I’m sure the vendor they paid a billion to also had sales people insisting that what the open source people were doing was illegal.

Please. If those in charge allowed the passionate to do these kinds of things, they wouldn't remain in charge. Authoritarian dicators not required.

Because there's only two levels 1. Passionate that produces amazing software 2. Completely don't care

In a nut shell, yes, but I'd modify the groupings: 1) Passionate people that rally others, 2) everyone else.

Whether you utterly don't care, midly care but not enough to do anything, or care enough to do something only when someone goes first, it is the passionate people that preach to the choir because that's how you get them to sing.

In most areas there arent enough passionate people to get something major done, as most OSS maintainers found out, thry rarely get a serious commit or contribution

I have said above this: there is no way to win if the opponent shows you an “ISO-9000” (et al.) certification and you are a “bunch of interested parents”…

You can only lose.

Monopolies hate competition, they’re terrified of better products, and a free open source version is better than their squandered tax program.

Why are the defending their own poor quality program? Do they want Sweden to fail?

The only reason they're defending their shit is prestige at this point.

The system was originally procured by city administrators who had way too little understanding and experience dealing with IT projects.

The contract was awarded to one of the big consultant behemoths who specialize in winning government contracts and executing them shoddily.

Parents hate it, because it is shit.

Anyone in the industry with a brain hates it, and laughs at it, because it is shit.

Elected city politicians hate it, because it is shit, and their voters are constantly telling them it is shit.

But the vendor is of course defending their contract and the sweet, sweet tax money they're getting.

And the people with power to actually do something about it, unelected city administrators, are defending it, because they feel they have to double down on their earlier shit decisions.

Can the crown, or some superior authority, pension off ‘city administrators’ in Sweden as they please?

No, that's not how it works.

Sweden has separations of power like every other liberal democracy, but the cake isn't cut the same way as it is in the US. Government offices are much more independent and protected from political interference than in the US, for example.

Basically, elected city officials set the budget and general guidance, and can appoint some administrators, but most people on the administrative side rise up through the ranks based on their merits (or not) like in any other organization.

The current head who is ultimately responsible for how the thing is handled right now started her career as a teacher, became a principal, and then moved into the city's school administration. I'm sure she's great at those parts of her job, but she's obviously not competent enough when it comes to overseeing or procuring IT projects of this magnitude.

So it's not the case that someone incompetent was rewarded with a comfy position, it's that the city's organization as a whole isn't competent to handle projects of this type and size.

Thanks for the explanation but I believe there’s been a misunderstanding.

By pension off I meant is there a possibility for someone mediocre, or promoted beyond their level of competence, to be immediately dismissed with a generous pension. And to replace them with someone else selected for fixing the problem?

Oh, you meant the other way around.

Well, same answer, actually. The elected politicians can't really interfere with personnel matters for either getting rid of people or hiring people, so no.

The idea is that people working for the city should be immune to changes among the elected officials, for better or worse. And this time it's for worse.

You mean what happenen in the US when a cop shot an undercover cop and promptly retired to prevent himself from getting into more trouble? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fQcjmt2Q_o

This policy won't help.

How do you know it wasn’t a forced retirement, i.e. an unofficial punishment?

How can there be defense against this? The US does this but the military contracts aren't executed shoddily, although it seems that many others are.

Why would they make such a crappy program, don't they have any incentive to have a good reputation or to get more contracts? If it sucks and their history sucks, why would anyone want to hire them?

> The US does this but the military contracts aren't executed shoddily

Did we finally decide to stop shoveling money into the F-35 or is that still ongoing?

Is it bad? I don't know whats the problems with it.

Public procurement requiring tax-funded projects to go to the lowest bidder is how this system is defended.

There's a whole industry of companies who cater to these kinds of projects, and they don't give a shit about their reputation, because they're busy making sweet, sweet, money.

And if you think US military contractors aren't wasteful and shoddy, I have a bridge to sell you!

I don't think all of them are done shoddily, but the US has the most powerful military, so they must be at least less bad, after all a lot of powerful military vehicles were contracted like the SR-71.

> so they must be at least less bad

Not necessarily, because they're throwing the most amount of money at the problem.

I'm reminded of the lukewarm response Microsoft had to refterm.

It would be interesting to know what contractor delivered the original $120m mess, and actively sabotaged open source efforts. The combination of large budget and terrible result suggest some of the very large contractors used to doing work for fortune 500 companies.

Shame on those who work there.

Well originally there were 4; TietoEvry, Nova Software, Ping Pong and Itslearning [1]

[1] https://axbom.se/oppna-skolplattformen-stockholm/

Are we shaming employees for company choices? Who works at companies who haven't done questionable actions?

I can't speak for you, but for me, I actually audit the company before accepting a job offer for and I'm proud of the conduct of every position and team I have been a part of. You can't buy reputation, which extends to who you choose to associate with.

Yes. I'd not do it, and I am sure many other would rather look for a different job (which is not difficult) than engage in such acts. Its a personal choice to work for companies acting immorally.

It isn’t only grass roots amateurs who fail at this. Once upon a time, there was a medium sized org in a galaxy sized company, that set out to make a Moodle/Blackboard-like, but for all ages, and “cool” (like they knew what that was). The designers were teachers, and the VP was a former god damned state superintendent of schools. Seems like they should have known better. When the time came to shop around for a test site, it quickly became apparent that the app was sort of inherently illegal, and even if it were not, there was no chance of it getting past the bureaucracy. The VP was fired, and the whole org was absorbed into other parts of the company.

Illegal on what basis? Data privacy, like in the story or something else?

I believe most if not all of it would have boiled down to data collection rules for kids. Some of that may have been specific to schools. The extent of those rules meant you could not simply bring the app into compliance without destroying a lot of the innovative parts.

114 million dollars for the original app! I almost can’t believe how bad an inefficient our government is sometimes.

It’s a government system. Of course it’s shit. When private systems are shit, they die. When gov systems are shit they attract more funding.

The simple dynamic of negative monetary feedback for shitness in private enterprise and positive monetary feedback for shitness in government determines this entirely.

In high school I reverse engineered my school grading system portal (Skyward) and made an app to help me prioritize assignments by their impact on my GPA. In the process I found that there were almost no permissions enforced. I made a typo in my user id number in a python test script and boom there was someone else's transcript! I set up a meeting with my principal and after much shade being thrown by the school district I proved to them it was a legit issue.

"It warned parents to stop using the app and alleged that it might be illegally accessing people’s personal information."

If that is possible, then your API is at fault. Period.

This should probably link directly to the article: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/sweden-stockholm-school-app-...

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