Education Law and Politics

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Lauren FitzPatrick reports that “Companies that Chicago Board of Education member Deborah Quazzo has an interest in have seen the business they get from the city’s schools system triple since Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to the board last year.” Quazzo is the co-founder and Managing Partner of GSV Advisors. “Quazzo’s companies have gotten an additional $2.9 million in Chicago Public Schools business in the year and a half since the millionaire venture capitalist joined the board to fill a vacancy left by Penny Pritzker when President Barack Obama named Pritzker commerce secretary.” The CPS Inspector General has opened an investigation.

James Peyser has been appointed Massachusetts’ new education secretary. Previously Peyser had worked for NewSchools Venture Fund.

The Department of Justice is suing Rikers Island over the treatment of juvenile inmates. More in The New Yorker.

Via ProPublica: “A National Survey of School Desegregation Orders.”

Michigan state taxes earmarked for schools will be used to help fund a new $450 million arena for the Detroit Red Wings.

The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a Mississippi school district violated a student’s First Amendment rights when it punished him for a video he posted to Facebook and YouTube (from off-campus).

Via BoingBoing: “The Appoquinimink, DE school board is contemplating requiring parental permission slips for students who want to check YA novels out of their school library.”

Reaction to last week’s release of the Department of Education’s new college ratings plan from Tressie McMillan Cottom.

MOOCs and UnMOOCs*

Where Ebola Has Closed Schools, A Radio Program Provides A Faint Signal Of Hope” by NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton.

From Daniel Lemire: “MOOCs are closed platforms… and probably doomed.”

* I am hoping that I can retire this category in 2015.

Meanwhile on Campus

Rolling Stone is asking the Columbia Journalism School to audit how it handled its story of an alleged gang rape at a UVA fraternity party.

The Star Tribune profiles University of Minnesota bioethics professor Carl Elliott and his campaign against the university’s psychiatry department, “which he blames for the 2004 death of a mentally ill patient.”

Massachusetts’ Hopkinton High School principal has banned school dances for fear of “twerking” and “dirty dancing.”

A really ugly controversy at Brandeis University over tweets by a student about the recent shooting of two NYPD officers. Her comments were picked up by a conservative website that is now demanding she be expelled. As always, do not read the comments on any Inside Higher Ed or Chronicle article.

Via The Hechinger Report: “What to do for kids with no internet at home? How about parking a wifi-enabled school bus near their trailer park?”

Go, School Sports Team!

In news that (sadly) probably surprises no one, Florida State University has cleared Jameis Winston in the code of conduct hearing regarding an accusation he had sexually assaulted a student in 2012. Winston will not be disciplined (and will play in the upcoming bowl game). The Florida Supreme Court chief justice who presided over the hearing said that the evidence was “insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof," even though the victim gave extensive details about the alleged assault and even though Winston’s response in the hearing was to say nothing.

From the HR Department

Edmodo CEO Crystal Hutter has taken on a new role at the company and will “focus on strategic partnerships,” reports Edsurge. The new CEO will be Vibhu Mittal, co-founder of Root–1, a company that Edmodo acquired in 2013.

“The University of Illinois violated key principles of shared governance and academic freedom in its review – and rejection – of the hiring of Steven G. Salaita, a faculty panel has found,” reports Inside Higher Ed. “But the panel also found that there may have been legitimate reasons to reject Salaita’s appointment with tenure to the faculty of the American Indian studies department at the Urbana-Champaign campus.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

Via the Cleveland Scene: “Nearly 500,000 Fewer Americans Will Pass the GED in 2014 After a Major Overhaul to the Test.” The new test, now administered by Pearson and “Common Core-aligned,” costs more (and there are no more free retakes). It must be taken on a computer. You must have a credit card in order to sign up for it. “The numbers are shocking: In the United States, according to the GED Testing Service, 401,388 people earned a GED in 2012, and about 540,000 in 2013. This year, according to the latest numbers obtained by Scene, only about 55,000 have passed nationally. That is a 90-percent drop off from last year.”

“We’re 3 female computer scientists at MIT, here to answer questions about programming and academia. Ask us anything!” – Guess what happened next?

Sifteo is open-sourcing its “intelligent gaming cubes” after what VentureBeat calls a “disappointing commercial run.”

The New York Times profiles GoldieBlox, a toy company that makes “engineering-based Erector-style sets for girls.”

“For the third straight month, some SAT scores in Asia are being withheld because of allegations of widespread cheating, this time on the December administration of the college entrance exam,” reports The Washington Post.

Khan Academy has updated its Terms of Service, in part “to make what we mean by ‘non-commercial use’ clearer so we added more explanation and examples.” It also announced that over 3 billion problems have been answered on its platform.

Funding and Acquisitions

Guokr, “an online science community and a partner of Coursera in China,” has raised $20 million in investment from the Chinese company TAL." More via Tech in Asia.

Barnes & Noble has bought out Pearson’s stake in Nook Media for ~$28 million, reports The Digital Reader’s Nate Hoffelder. “Pearson paid $89.5 million for their 5% stake in December 2012.”

Via Edsurge: “US edtech companies hit paydirt in 2014, raising $1.36B in 201 rounds from more than 386 unique investors, according to analysis by EdSurge.”

Via NewSchools Venture Fund: “A closer look at K12 edtech funding in 2014.”

Via The Washington Post: “Here’s who got the biggest Gates Foundation education grants for 2014.”


The World Bank’s Michael Trucano asks (and attempts to answer) the question “How many schools are connected to the Internet?”

“More Students – But Few Girls, Minorities – Took AP Computer Science Exams,” reports Education Week.

According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science “people who did their evening reading via a light-emitting electronic device had a harder time falling asleep and poorer quality sleep than those who read a print book.”

Why journalists hate to write about education

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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