Polar Vortex! Brutally cold weather across much of North America closed schools for several days this week. "Yay! Snow day!" cheered teachers and students. Others grumbled. Why? According to The Atlantic, school wasn’t closed for bad weather during Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life (circa 1880s), proving “we’ve all gone soft.” Of course, she walked to school barefoot uphill both ways too.
Education Politics and Policies
Happy 12th birthday, No Child Left Behind. And many happy returns.
The Obama Administration issued guidelines for student discipline, urging schools to use law enforcement as a “last resort.” The guidelines, reports The New York Times, are “a response to a rise in zero-tolerance policies that have disproportionately increased the number of arrests, suspensions and expulsions of minority students for even minor, nonviolent offenses.”
Maine’s governor Paul LePage continues to be an utter embarrassment to the state, this week arguing that child labor laws are detrimental to Maine’s economy. LePage would like to change these so that 12 year olds can get a job.
The National Research Council has released a report on proposed changes to human subjects compliance regulations, suggesting there be a category of social science research that is “excused.” More details via Inside Higher Ed.
New York state will delay uploading student data into inBloom. The education department points to technical issues and says it’s struggling to get the project off the ground, but the project is also facing legal challenges from parents opposed to it.
Missouri millionaire Rex Sinquefield has donated $750,000 to help “jumpstart the initiative petition drive for a ballot measure to end teacher tenure.” The initiative would limit teacher contracts to no more than 3 years.
The California Institute of Technology has adopted an open access policy for its faculty’s scholarship.
“The government of Pakistan’s Punjab province will launch an e-learning platform, the first of its kind, to make textbooks freely available online,” says The Business Standard.
Education and the Law
Six educators pleaded guilty to charges relating to their role in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.
The LAUSD iPad saga continues! According to KPCC, “only 208 of the district’s 800 schools have the network capacity to support every student and teacher having an iPad.” A great example of the 7 Ps.
Meanwhile, Baltimore is preparing to go 1:1 with ten “Lighthouse” elementary schools. According to the district press release, “The 10 schools will be the first in the school system to receive individual digital learning devices for students; implement one-to-one personalized and blended learning; and create an innovative, comprehensive digital learning culture.”
“MOOCs ain’t over,” insists the Clayton Christensen Institute. Cute, as there wasn’t any other MOOC news this week.
The Consumer Electronics Show was held this week in Las Vegas. Among the whizbang products: an Internet-enabled crockpot. Speakers at the education portion of the event included edX’s Anant Agarwal and Chegg’s Anne Dwane.
Upgrades and Downgrades
In conjunction with CES, OLPC announced two new XO tablets, both under $200.
MakerBot unveiled new 3D printers at CES, as well as a new “digital store” (a competitor to Thingiverse and another signal, I think, that MakerBot is moving away from “open.”
Textbook publisher Cengage announced the launch of its “Career Online High School” that will offer an accredited high school program though public libraries. The Los Angeles Public Library will be the first to offer the program.
Adaptive tech platform Knewton has partnered with Cengage to “provide personalized learning pathways for students and predictive analytics for teachers in select Management and Sociology higher education products.”
Inside Higher Ed reports that Lynn University is moving away from Blackboard in order to use iTunes U to manage courses. Hmm. (I remember tweeting two years ago at an Apple press event that iTunes U might mark the death of the LMS. But Apple has been pretty quiet on this front, even with all the MOOC hoopla. Apple didn’t comment on this story either, despite – ya know – education being part of its DNA.)
Digedu has raised $2.5 million in seed funding, according to Edsurge. The startup “provides a variety of hardware services for schools, including devices, bandwidth solutions, charging stations, well as an online ”Learning Engine“ platform that allows teachers to design and deliver content and assessments and capture their feedback and results.”
According to Reuters, the e-learning company Skillsoft is looking for a buyer. Price tag: a mere $2 billion.
Connections Education, which offers K–12 virtual education, has acquired the education products and service assets of Advanced Academics, once part of DeVry Education Group.
SIVI Corporation has raised $340,000 in funding. The startup “provides gamified e-learning for aspiring entrepreneurs.”
The investment analysts at CB Insights have issued another report on 2013 funding. The two sectors with the largest increase in seed VC deals: 1. HR and Workforce Management and 2. Education and Training.
From the HR Department
The for-profit elite university-wannabe Minerva Project has named another dean, Diane Halpern, formerly a psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College.
Ron Packard has stepped down from the helm of K12 Inc, the resoundingly awful for-profit education company he founded in order to form a new company that will “focus on the global expansion of technology-based learning programs in pre-kindergarten through college.” Yuck.
“Research” and Data
“Here’s Exactly How Much the Government Would Have to Spend to Make Public College Tuition-Free”: $62.6 billion dollars.
Via the e-Literate blog, here are the “Top 20 online US institutions by sector.”
The most frequently appearing English words in the WorldCat library catalog (in case you were wondering): 1. new, 2. report, 3. study, 4. development, 5. analysis, 6. history, 7. county, 8. international, 9. state, 10. guide. Zzzzz.
According to the Association of American Publishers, “sales for print and digital instructional materials in schools jumped 25 percent in September and 9 percent in October over the previous year.” Remember how the move to digital was going to destroy the textbook publishers? LOL.
An investigation by CNN, along with research by UNC learning specialist Mary Willingham, has found that many student-athletes who play basketball and football at public universities “could read only up to an eighth-grade level.” Since the news broke, Willingham has received death threats (because Internet?) and UNC has disavowed her research (because money).
Education Week has released its annual “Quality Counts” report, gathering data about states’ education performance (finance, standards, etc). Number 1 in K–12 achievement: Massachusetts. Number 51: Mississippi.
We now know the identities of the people who broke into an FBI office in the 1971, taking documents that helped expos the extensive and illegal surveillance of the government against political activists. Among those who organized and conducted the break-in: religious studies professor John Raines and physics professor William Davidson. The revelations come with the publication of The Burglary by Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger.
Rest in power, Amiri Baraka. Leader of the Black Arts Movement. Poet. Playwright. Activist. Professor.
Pakistani teenager Aitzaz Hasan spotted a suicide bomber outside his school on Monday. Hasan confronted the bomber who detonated his vest, killing them both. Hasan is being honored for saving the lives of his schoolmates.
Image credits: Nomadic Lass and The Noun Project