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The FCC and Net Neutrality

The FCC is making moves to change the rules surrounding “Net Neutrality,” the idea that the Internet should not give preferential treatment to certain data or certain companies. The new proposal will give communications carriers and content companies “faster lanes.” This could have a major impact on education, as some have already said that schools will get “the slow lane.”

Meanwhile, Brazil has passed an Internet Bill of Rights that, among other things, protects Net Neutrality.

Supreme Court and Affirmative Action

The US Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ballot measure in Michigan that banned affirmative action in university admissions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor write a blistering dissent, arguing the court “ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.” (I wrote about this at more length over on Educating Modern Learners.)

Other Education Law and Politics

The Department of Education has rescinded Washington’s No Child Left Behind waiver because the state has refused to tie teachers’ performance evaluations to students’ standardized test scores.

The Department of Education has also announced that it will tie grant money for teacher preparation programs to how well these programs’ graduates perform as teachers.

Finally some good news for the LAUSD iPad deal: The Los Angeles District Attorney has investigated the school district’s iPad contract and found no reason to file criminal charges.

“State and local dollars for higher education increased by 0.7 percent from the 2012 to the 2013 fiscal years, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers.” More via The Chronicle.

A North Carolina judge has issued an injunction, preventing the schools in Guildford County from offering a small salary increase in order to entice teachers to give up their tenure.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau issued a report this week, warning that students who take out a loan via private lenders can find it come due for immediate repayment if a co-signer dies.

23 students at Columbia University have filed a federal complaints against the university for mishandling rape cases.

California GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari wants to give free college tuition to students who major in STEM – in exchange for a cut of their future earnings.

The Department of Education is investigating Academica Corp, Florida’s largest chain of charter schools for “potential conflicts of interests in its business practices.”

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed a bill into law – the “Safe Carry Protection Act” – that lets people carry guns into public places, including schools.

“More than 30 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 25 have details about their lives stored in a Pentagon registry called the “Joint Advertising Market Research Studies” (JAMRS) database, their names, phone numbers, email addresses, ethnicities, and other identifying information available to recruiters 24 hours a day. Since 2001, any school that receives federal funding is required under the No Child Left Behind Act to provide the Pentagon such data on all students in 11th and 12th grades, as well as grant recruiters access to their campus.” More via Vice.

MOOCs MOOCs MOOCs MOOCs

Your Diploma Just Got Downgraded. But You Can Upgrade It At a 20% Discount!

Controversial MOOC nearly costs professor his job

Meanwhile on Campus

UW-Madison professors Sara Goldrick-Rab and Nancy Kendall have proposed to make the first two years of public university free, paid for by the federal government.

We’re getting a better picture of what the for-profit startup “elite university” Minerva will look like. Here’s an interview with founder Ben Nelson. And here’s a video of what the “classroom experience” will look like.

The Gothamist reports that a new school called Explore + Discover will open in Gramercy for kids from age 3 months to 2 years. “Tuition is $2,791/month for kids who attend five days a week.”

Patrick Farves, a senior at Central York High School, was suspended for 3-days for asking Miss America to prom. Miss America has responded, asking schools to reconsider the punishment. Because if you can’t wield the crown on behalf of justice…

2U will offer an EdD through the USC Rossier School of Education beginning in January 2015.

College towns are pits of income inequality.”

Testing Testing Testing

Problems with the computer-based testing in Florida prompted the state to suspend the FCAT tests. The state’s Department of Education says the problem was not on their end but with testing firm Pearson. Pearson blamed its ISP.

The AFT is asking Pearson to lift a gag order that stops educators from talking about tests (including mistakes that they find).

Education Week reports that the NAEP has a plan to put Microsoft tablets in the hands of students taking its assessments. They won’t get to keep them, oh no. It’s just a rental.

From the HR Department

A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that contingent faculty at Seattle University, a Roman Catholic university, can unionize.

The National Labor Relations Board also says it will review the Northwestern University student-athletes’ argument that they should be considered employees.

The football players at Northwestern are voting today on whether to unionize.

Some instructors at the for-profit Kaplan have reached a collective bargaining agreement. More details via Inside Higher Ed.

Melissa Harris-Perry is leaving Tulane University and heading back to her alma mater, Wake Forest University.

Citing a “hostile work environment,” Mary Willingham is leaving the University of North Carolina. Willingham had been researching academic illiteracy, and helped blow the whistle on “paper classes” at the university – ones that athletes signed up for but that required little or no work and no attendance.

This week marks the 15th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School. Principal Frank DeAngelis says he will retire at the end of the school year. “DeAngelis will have spent 18 years leading the school, driven in part by a personal pledge made after the attack that he would remain as principal until all the students in Columbine feeder schools at the time had graduated. He fulfilled that promise in 2012.”

Sports Team

The NCAA will no longer accept high school credits from 24 virtual schools whose curriculum is provided by K12 Inc.

Upgrades and Downgrades

It’s official. The data infrastructure project InBloom is dead. After months of struggling to keep its clients in the face of parent protests about privacy issues, the organization announced this week that it would “wind down” over the coming months.

Microsoft has made its “Bing in the Classroom” available to all US schools – “ad-free, safer, more private search.”

Avbl, “an ‘AirBnB For Skills’ Will Liberate You From Your 9 To 5,” Fast Company assures us.

Introducing Educoin, cryptocurrency to a help students pay for education.

Code.org has partnered with some 30 school districts to have its CS curriculum taught in schools

Lots of wheeling and dealing from the Arizona desert this week as the annual ASU-GSV Education Innovation Summit brought together investors, politicians, entrepreneurs, and famous sports figures.

A new OER platform, panOpen, has officially launched.

Codecademy has redesigned its site, and according to VentureBeat has “hinted that monetization could come about from the company’s new training design.”

EverFi, which offers a platform to teach social skills, has partnered with the NEA to offer its materials at no cost to schools.

Barnes & Noble has released a new digital textbook app, Yuzu. (The Digital Reader has some interesting analysis about what this says about the digital textbook market.)

Raise Your Flag, a site that helps students think about careers that don’t require college degrees, has relaunched with Version 2.0.

ChineseCubes Are Cubes That Teach You Chinese

The digital textbook company Boundless has unveiled “cloud powered textbooks.”

Khan Academy has partnered with the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation “to provide insight and guidance on delivering high-quality blended learning.”

Twitter has announced the winners of grants that will allow researchers to study Twitter data.

Rebranding

The OpenCourseWare Consortium has changed its name to the Open Education Consortium.

ePals is changing its name to Cricket Media.

Funding and Acquisitions

PD data tracker Bloomboard has raised $5 million in funding from $5 million from Birchmere Ventures and the Gates Foundation.

The adaptive learning company Declara has raised $16 million from GSV Capital, with Data Collective, Founders Fund and Catamount Ventures.

The MacArthur Foundation has earmarked more than $28 million to spend on “fresh thinking for secondary education in developing countries.”

Apple makes money.

Yik Yak, an anonymous messaging app, found itself in hot water recently with widespread reports that it was being used for cyberbullying. But that hasn’t stopped it from raising $1.5 million in funding from Vaizra Investments, DCM, Azure Capital Partners and others.

ClassBadges has been acquired by EdStart.

Zoobean, which offers a recommendation service for kids’ ebooks and apps, has raised $250,000 from Mark Cuban on the TV show Shark Tank.

InsideTrack has acquired the “student-engagement platform” Logrado.

Function Space, a “social learning network for science,” has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Nexus Venture Partners.

Tutorvista founder Krishnan Ganesh has bought an online school, Avagmah.

Avaz AAC, which makes a speech therapy app for autism, has raised $550,000 in seed funding from Inventus Capital and Mumbai Angels.

“Research”

“A survey of more than 6,000 faculty members, across a range of disciplines, has found that when prospective graduate students reach out for guidance, white males are the most likely to get attention,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

2 in 5 Americans earn degrees beyond high school.

But the number of high school grads enrolling in college fell last year.

Speed-reading apps like Spritz have a negative impact on reading comprehension.

The Gates Foundation has published the results of a survey on what teachers want from digital tools.

Image credits: Mark Fischer

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Audrey Watters


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