Politics and Policies

8 more states received No Child Left Behind waivers this week from the Department of Education – Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. That brings the total number of waivers to 19, with 18 states’ applications still under review. These waivers are part of the Obama Adminstration campaign to trade George W. Bush’s standardized-test-focused education reform policies for its own. Yay?

Seattle schools are preparing a $11.5 million tax measure to take before voters in February that would put wireless Internet in all of the city’s public schools.

The California State Senate has passed Senate Bill 1052 and Companion Bill 1053, which would help create a library of open source digital materials for 50 of the most popular college courses in the state. The legislation heads next to the state’s General Assembly and then to Governor Jerry Brown. But even if passed the laws must wait for funding to move forward. The state of California currently has a $16 billion deficit. Some, ya know, eventually this will happen.

Policies & Markets

The Common Core State Standards are either going to cost up $16 billion (according to the Pioneer Institute) or save us $927 million (according to the Fordham Institute). Or somewhere in that range, ya know, give or take a few hundred million dollars.

You know what happens when cellphone ownership among kids is ubiquitous and yet we ban them from bringing the devices to school? Mashable has the answer – well, it has a story about the growing market for “gadget storage trucks” that park outside of schools and charge kids money to safely store their devices while they’re on campus.


A judge has decided to drop a truancy charge against a 17-year-old honors student after jailing her for 24 hours. Diane Tran, who works 2 jobs to support herself and her younger siblings after their parents abandoned them, has been unable to make her morning classes consistently. I sure hope she's learned her lesson.  (Ugh.)


Google unveiled new Chromebooks this week. I realize this is the point where I’m supposed to eat crow as I predicted the company would axe its Chromebook program, and hey, look! There are upgrades! And hey, I’m glad for it. Give me the open Web over a closed app ecosystem anyday. And frankly, I don’t think Chromebooks are as bad as some people would paint them out to be – particularly for putting a low-cost laptop into students’ hands. Interesting in this week’s announcement: a Chromebox – a desktop version (but one I’m thinking could be the new Google TV…)

Khan Academy has now made it possible for parents to create accounts for their under–13-year-old children. The new feature gives parents control over who can coach their child via the site and what kids can post to public forums there.


The University of Oregon student paper, The Oregon Daily Emerald, will no longer be a daily print newspaper. The ODE announced that after 92 years in print, it would end its daily publication, moving to online versions more akin to some of the alt-weekly newspapers we love here in the Pacific Northwest. The Emerald will have a strong digital presence but will print papers in conjunction with special events, like oh say, football games.

Research and Data

Student motivation may be the key piece that education reform efforts are overlooking. So says research from the Center for Education Policy.

One in 5 people stopped last year by the NYPD was a teenager between the ages of 14 and 18. 86% were Black or Latino. Most were boys. Read some of their accounts and see a map of where NYC teens are stopped and frisked here.

A hearty congratulations to the United States of America for coming in number 2 in a recent ranking of advanced nations – I know how very much these sorts of competitive figures matter to pundits and politicians. The US is now ranked number 2 in child poverty, second only to Romania. Go team. 23.1% of children in the US live in poverty, but let's all point fingers at teachers as why schools are failing, shall we?

Not directly related to education technology, I realize, but interesting and important data nonetheless: the Pew Research Center has released its latest stats on US adults’ Twitter usage. It found that 15% of online adults use Twitter, which isn’t too different from a year ago. What’s changed is the number of adults who say they use Twitter on any given day – that’s doubled since 2001 and quadrupled from the year before that. About 8% of online adults in Pew’s February 2012 survey say they use Twitter daily.


Techcrunch reports that Echo360 has raised $31 million in funding – “As the old school gives way to the new, technology has begun to play an increasingly active role in the learning process” is the story lede. Well, active up to a point, I guess, since Echo360 is a lecture-capture technology. But hey, throw the “flipped classroom” into your slide-deck and investors clearly eat that up.

InstaEDU has raised $1.1 million in seed funding, according to Techcrunch, for on-demand video tutoring.

Techcrunch reports that educational app-maker Mindshapes has raised $4 million in funding.

Hot on the heels of his “squatting at AOL HQ” story, it seems as though Eric Simons of ClassConnect has secured more funding for his startup. Nothing like a little virality to make folks pay attention, eh? (Sigh.)


General Assembly, one of my picks for the top education startups of 2011, has just hired Courtney Boyd-Meyers, formerly the east coast editor of The Next Web, to lead its expansion efforts in Europe. Smart, smart, smart – all ’round.

The Gates Foundation has hired Daniel Greenstein, currently the vice provost for academic planning, programs and coordination at the UC system, to head its higher education initiatives. More details over on Inside Higher Ed.


Udacity has listed five new classes that’ll begin summer, all of which greatly expand the breadth of the startup’s offerings. These include physics, discrete math and statistics. It’s also made the official announcement of its partnership with Pearson testing centers where people will be able to take an optional final exam in order to be put into the Udacity job recruitment pipeline. How’s that MOOC revolution lookin’ now, Thomas Friedman? (Good grief.)

Photo credits: Rob Brewer

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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