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OMFG LAUSD

The LAUSD iPad clusterfuck continues.

Late last week, several LA news organizations obtained and published emails between LAUSD, Apple, and Pearson officials. The emails reveal that Superintendent John Deasy began meeting with these companies to discuss the hardware/curriculum purchase almost a year before the multimillion dollar contract went out to bid.

The district agreed last year to purchase 700,000 iPads — one for every student in the district. The devices would come pre-loaded with curriculum created by Pearson. The expected cost of this project, including upgrades to the district’s WiFi: over $1 billion.

Following the release of the emails — alongside a highly critical report from the district technology committee, Deasy announced he would cancel the contract with Apple. The district will reopen the bidding process.

No surprise, the ongoing saga is this week’s “What You Should Know This Week” over on EML.

Oh and bonus: now the district says that an audit has found it is missing $2 million in computers, mostly iPads. Oops.

Education Law and Politics

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is suing the Obama Administration over the Common Core. Jindal was for it before he was against it, just like that other one-time presidential candidate.

The Department of Education has revoked Oklahoma’s NCLB waiver after the state opted to back away from the Common Core.

And here’s what that looks like in practice: 90% of Washington public schools are now considered “failing.” No, not because they’re really “failing”; but because the US Department of Education revoked the state’s NCLB waiver.

The judge in Vergara v California affirmed his decision this week (that is, five state statures governing teacher employment, tenure, and seniority are unconstitutional as they deny students access to a quality public education). Defendants now have 60 days to file an appeal.

A judge in Texas has affirmed his decision that the state’s school funding model is unconstitutional.

California has a new “$50 million fund for ‘innovation’ in the state’s budget. The legislation created an award program that seeks to fund ideas that bubble up from California’s public universities and community colleges.” Certainly a different approach than attempts last year to legislate innovation (or rather, MOOCs).

The California Assembly has also approved a bill that would restrict companies’ use of student data, specifically ending advertising on K–12 websites and apps. More via T.H.E. Journal.

The Lee County School Board in Florida has voted to opt out of state-mandated standardized tests.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal has lost his reelection bid. Huppenthal came under fire earlier this year for making offensive anonymous comments online, calling welfare recipients “lazy pigs,” for example. Nice work finally getting a political decision right, Arizona.

Rhode Island’s Announces Plans To Be The First State To Go Fully Blended,” says Edsurge. Honest question: what is blended learning? What does it mean to be “fully blended”?

MOOCs and UnMOOCs

Coursera as corporate training.

HarvardX researcher Justin Reich explains recent changes to edX’s discussion forums, which will now distinguish between “asking a question and starting a discussion.” (Wouldn't it be funny if it turned out the big contribution MOOCs make to instructional design is, finally, a revamp to discussion forums?)

The University of New England has ended its MOOC program. The program allowed students to take certain online courses for free, then charged for the credits. “While MOOCs will continue to be offered I am sure by some of the very big providers around the world it’s not something that a university like UNE would go at alone,” said the vice chancellor. Oh.

Meanwhile on Campus

Back-to-school in Ferguson, Missouri.

Students at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles staged a sit-in to protest a number of management systems, including the district’s failed SIS (something I wrote about last week).

“A University of Oregon student was charged with five separate code-of-conduct violations for shouting a kind of funny, vaguely inappropriate four-word phrase out the window of a campus dormitory.” Go Ducks.

The New York Times looks at college student-build apps. The story raises lots of good questions about colleges’ data policies.

The for-profit college chain Anthem Education has filed for bankruptcy and shuttered several of its campuses, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Alumni groups at prestigious NYC high schools do not want the city to scrap test scores as the sole criterion for admission. Many have argued that this policy keeps Black and Latino students out, and a broader admission policy could address the lack of diversity in these elite schools. But the alumni groups say that would risk “diluting the schools’ rigorous academic atmosphere.” Side eye.

Credit for Reddit” at MIT. (Wow. I’d hate to be a woman in that class.)

The student paper at Western University published a story "“So you want to date a teaching assistant,” setting off a “furor,” says IHE.

Simon Fraser University has received a $6000 Bitcoin donation.

John Sperling, the founder of the University of Phoenix, has died. He was 93.

Go, School Sports Team!

The NCAA says it will appeal the recent O’Bannon decision, which ruled that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by barring schools from sharing sports revenue with players.

The New York Times profiles antitrust lawyer Jeffrey Kessler. He’s the one who brought free agency to the NFL. Now he’s also suing to dismantle the NCAA’s rules forbidding paying college athletes.

There have been protests at the University of Iowa over the painting of the visiting teams’ locker rooms pink. “Some students and faculty have decried the color scheme as sexist and discriminatory.”

From the HR Department

The backlash over the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s “unhiring” of Steven Salaita continues, many arguing that the decision is a “threat to academic freedom.” Chancellor Wise made a statement doubling down on the decision, arguing that Salaita’s tweets about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict made him unqualified for a job at the university. Responses: Boycotts. Letters from Timothy Burke,Michael Meranze, Corey Robin, and lots of others.

The teachers’ strike in British Columbia continues.

Adjuncts at the University of the District of Columbia have voted to unionize.

The Detroit Public Schools have cancelled their plans to cut salaries by 10%.

Suffolk University president James McCarthy has abruptly left his position, even though he still has a year left on his contract.

Online learning platform Udemy has hired three new “seasoned execs”: Paul Sebastien, Dave Arnold, and Richard Qiu. More from Edukwest.

Online learning platform Lynda.com has hired Andrew Wait as CFO. More from Edukwest.

Kuali has hired former Instructure CTO Joel Dehlin as its CEO. (See the next news item for the big reveal…)

Upgrades and Downgrades

The Kuali Foundation announced last last week that it was ditching its not-for-profit status to become a for-profit company. Kuali had been an attempt to “community-source” school administration software, supporting universities in the creation of their own accounting, billing, research, and budgeting software rather than relying on third-party vendors. To address the problems around sustainability and the pace of software development, the org decided to switch its profit models. Solid analysis, as always, from Phil Hill on what this means for higher ed-tech.

Clever has released its single sign-on platform – that is, one student login to access all their apps. Better make that a strong password, kids.

A new iPad app from Educlipper, “WeLearnedIt,” that aims to make project based learning easier to manage uses the word “revolutionize” in the press release headline. (Adam Bellow! Dude!)

The messaging app formerly known as Remind 101 (now it’s just “Remind”) has added two new features: a Stamps response system and voice messaging. The former lets students and parents respond to messages with a check, and X, a star, and a question mark.

600 words in the press release on Pearson’s latest thingy without once mentioning the Common Core. Strong work, team.

Ardusat enables students to “reate their own satellite experiments and collect real-world space-data.” The technology and accompanying curriculum is now available.

Panorama Education is making its “Panorama Student Survey” available to teachers for free.

Via Boing Boing, "James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins, eminent copyright scholars at the Duke Center for the Public Domain, have released their 788-page Open Intellectual Property Casebook as a free, open, CC-licensed download, replacing textbooks that normally sell for $160."

Edsurge covers the release of the new iKeepSafe Copyright Curriculum. Wired Magazine wrote about a draft of the curriculum last year, noting that it was developed with the help of the MPAA and RIAA – notorious copyright hawks. So heads-up.

“Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend” + Discovery Education ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ta-Nehisi Coates is kicking off another reading group in September, this time focused on Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Highly recommended.

Funding and Acquisitions

Pluralsight has raised $135 million in Series B funding from Insight Venture Partners, ICONIQ Capital, and Sorenson Capital. The total raised for the online training company is now roughly $165 million.

College counseling startup Admittedly has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Quotidian, RRE, Correlation, Joanne Wilson, and Shawn Byers.

Sofatutor has raised €3.5 million in funding from textbook publisher Cornelsen, Acton Capital Partners, J.C.M.B., and IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft. The startup, which offers online tutorial videos, has now raised $4.6 million total.

UClass, which describes itself as a “Dropbox for education” has raised $1 million.

Edshelf has met its $30,000 Kickstarter goal, meaning the startup will not shut its doors this summer.

For-profit Education Management Corporation (EDMC) announced that it restructured financially, “with creditors that own 80 percent of the company’s debt.”

Ruffalo Cody has acquired Noel Levitz. These are education companies, I promise, not people’s names. (Wait, corporations are people in the US. Nevermind.)

“Research"

The 2014 Beloit Mindset List is annoying, as usual.

A new NIH policy will require scientists who receive federal funding for genomics research to share their data.

From the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and New America Foundation, “A Snapshot of Kids’ Language & Literacy Apps, Part 1.”

School starts too early. Students need more sleep. News at 11.

Who’s Afraid of College Rankings?

Pew Research on “Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’.” “A major insight into human behavior from pre-internet era studies of communication is the tendency of people not to speak up about policy issues in public—or among their family, friends, and work colleagues—when they believe their own point of view is not widely shared.” And Pew contends folks are even more silent online.

This week in education-related Vox charts: segregation in US schools, textbook prices, student loan default rates.

Image credits: Per-Olof Forsberg

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