RIP Deah Barakat (age 23). Yusor Mohammad (age 21). Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. (age 19).

Deah Barakat was a dental student at UNC. Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha had started her architecture degree at North Carolina State University. They were murdered this week by a neighbor. They were full of hope and promise and commitment to a better world. “The Killing of Three Young Muslims in Chapel Hill.”

Education Politics

Following investigative reports from the Chicago Sun-Times about profits to her ed-tech portfolio after she joined the Chicago school board, GSV co-founder Deborah Quazzo sent an angry mass email this week saying “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” No more hard questions from the public or the Fifth Estate! Time to invest in moar ed-tech publications or something.

Great reporting from Politico’s Stephanie Simon on the politics of Pearson.

No Child Left Behind – the reauthorization of the law, that is – is still being debated. While Congress is at it, perhaps FERPA – which is almost as old as me – will be updated as DC looks to revamp student privacy measures. Perhaps.

ProPublica reports that “Virginia lawmakers have passed a bill requiring state leaders to set limits on how public schools can restrain or isolate students.” (ProPublica has been working on stories about these practices in schools.)

The South Carolina legislature has passed a budget plan that would prevent SC State University (a HBCU) from holding classes or athletic events for the next two years. “The school would reopen under new leadership in the fall of 2017. The 3,000 students at the state's only historically black public college could get state scholarships to attend other S.C. public colleges or any historically black university.”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has moved to end protections for state employees on the basis of sexual orientation. But Kansas’ public universities say that they will keep policies in place that prevent discrimination.

​'For the Preservation of Public Peace,' Arkansas Students Will Learn to Code.”

Bobby Jindal vs. the world.”

Broad Foundation suspends $1-million prize for urban school districts.” Just not enough innovation these days, I guess.

Education in the Courts

In news that should surprise no one, for-profit education providers have filed a motion relating to the latest Department of Education rules about “gainful employment.”

Via “A former University of Alabama contract instructor faces a felony ethics charge after he allegedly made more than $375,000 by encouraging students to buy textbooks from a company he owned.”

According to The News-Gazette, a judge has rejected the University of Illinois’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit by Steven Salaita, a professor whose tenured job offer was rescinded following social media updates he made supporting Palestinians. Salaita’s lawsuit involves a FOIA suit to obtain documents relating to his employment.

A district judge in Idaho has voided the state’s broadband contract (which supports its school broadband program), arguing that the state violated procurement laws when it gave CenturyLink (formerly Qwest) the deal to provide schools broadband.


Bill Gates is guest-editing the tech blog The Verge. So we get this: “Can online classrooms help the developing world catch up?” Edsurge rewrites the story with this headline: “Can MOOCs Better Help Women in Developing Countries?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Meanwhile, Harvard and MIT are being sued under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The complaint contends that the universities violated that act by failing to (among other things) close caption MOOCs.

So yeah. Who are MOOCs helping again? Oh right. Corporations.

Via the Coursera blog: “Top Companies Work with University Partners to Help Create Capstone Projects with Real World Applications” and “The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania introduces the Business Foundations Specialization, with Capstone Projects from Snapdeal and Shazam.” From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “ Meet the New, Self-Appointed MOOC Accreditors: Google and Instagram .” From WIRED: “How Coursera Is Connecting Its Students to Tech Employers Like Google.” Coursera says it now thinks it’s found a viable business model - that is, selling pseudo-certificates to students who hope to work in the tech sector. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Meanwhile on Campus

The New York Times reports that “A ‘select handful’ of University of Texas applicants are approved each year at the direction of the school president over the objections of the admissions office, a longtime practice that has grown in recent years, according to an investigation commissioned by the university’s Board of Regents and released Thursday.” Paging Abigail Fisher?

Via Corey Robin: “U. Mass. Will Not Admit Iranian Students to Schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences.” (And it looks like the for-profit Kaplan is doing something similar.) So when you hear the tech sector and the for-profit ed sector and the publications that promote their story say “everyone should learn to code,” you know there’s an asterisk there. * Not everyone.

In the light of the recent measles outbreak, “UC will require measles vaccination for incoming students,” says The LA Times.

Are iPads the Solution to Snow Days?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Sickeningly Low Vaccination Rates at Silicon Valley Day Cares.” (Are iPads the Solution to Parents Who Fail to Immunize?)

Via Techdirt: A middle school principal in New Mexico is threatening to call the FBI on a student who threw an American flag out a classroom window.

According to a report from the University of Chicago, “Study Claims Oil Divestiture May Hurt College Endowments.” Because University of Chicago.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Tulsa has suspended a student over offensive Facebook posts that were written by his husband.” (The story is a lot more complicated than that lede, for what it’s worth.)

The Stanford Undergraduate and the Mentor.” (About sexual harassment and predation and Silicon Valley.)

The University of Warwick is expanding to Sacramento, California, where I do wish them luck in finding faculty who do not speak ironically and do not eye-roll at meetings.

Bryan Alexander chronicles “A wave of state-mandated queen sacrifices for American public universities.”

Standardized Testing-ness

Indiana is looking to shorten its standardized testing, says Politico, “after learning it could take students up to 12 hours to complete the exams.”

Via Marketplace: “With Common Core Testing, You Get What You Pay For.” (Really?! Is this part of the Gates Foundation-funded series!?)

Go, School Sports Team!

Congrats Auburn. Your university is paying $13.9 million in order to have the largest college scoreboard.

Remember how last year the University of Alabama Birmingham said it was going to cancel its football program in order to save money? Yeah. I guess people have complained. Protested even. And now…

Four members of the University of Iowa women’s field hockey team are suing the university over Title IX violations related to the firing last year of their coach. More via Inside Higher Ed.

From the HR Department

Inside Higher Ed reports that Scott Steffey, the CEO of the for-profit Career Education Corporation, is stepping down.

NextThought Appoints Dr. Rob Reynolds Chief Product Officer.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

According to The Wall Street Journal, “Strayer University Taps Daily Mail For Elaborate Year-long Branded Content Deal.” LOL.

According to Edsurge, “Blackboard Flirts with Buying Pearson’s PowerSchool.”

Lots of folks were disgusted by the sexism on display at Silicon Valley’s annual award show, the “Crunchies.” But hey. Posted without commentary on Edsurge: a congrats to Yik Yak and Class Dojo who were lauded by their Silicon Valley peers for their exciting work in education technology startup-ness.

Edsurge asks, “How K–12 Can Improve Personalized Learning With a Corporate Tool?” (For what it’s worth, the topic of the story, the Tin Can API has its roots as a military tool not really a corporate tool. But hey, what’s a little ed-tech history among friends.)

From Fast Company: “The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Education.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Passwords Stored in Plain Text” and other horrors from library information security.

The New York Times’ Natasha Singer has written a couple of posts recently about ed-tech info-sec: “Uncovering Security Flaws in Digital Education Products for Schoolchildren.”

Google Partners With Mattel to Bring VR to the Iconic View-Master.” (I smell a post in my “The History of the Future of Education” series.)

Via Andy Baio by way of Jason Scott: the “Internet Archive now supports embedding playable games and other software from their collections in web pages.”

Cryptography for Kids

Via E-Literate, “Instructure Releases 4th Security Audit, With a Crowd-sourcing Twist.”

Funding and Acquisitions

For-profit edu provider Education Corporation of America has bought 38 (for-profit edu provider) Kaplan campuses.

Woot Math, which offers apps for teaching math, has raised $1 million in funding from the Foundry Group.

Listen Current has raised $950,000 from Launchpad Venture Group LLC and others. The startup “curates public radio and organizes snippets into social studies, science, and English language arts-themed lesson plans.”

Team(You) has raised $500,000 for a “student behavior incentive system.” Skinner would be proud. The money came from investors including Frank Byrne of Fifth Light Capital.

Glints has raised $475,000 from East Ventures, 500 Startups, SPH Media Fund, Infocomm Investments, 8 Capital, and Pix Vine Capital, John Tan, and Darius Cheung. “Their age,” Techinasia squees, “makes the trio possibly the youngest tech entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia to get venture capital money.” The company “builds career readiness.”

Alma has acquired Always Prepped. Terms were not disclosed.

Education publisher Elsevier has acquired Newsflo. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Docebo has raised $3 million in a round led by Klass Capital. The LMS startup has raised $6.4 million total.

Via Edsurge: “​The Advisory Board Company Acquires GradesFirst for Engaging At-Risk Students.”

MyOnlineSchool has raised £450,000 in funding from “Leaf Investments; Howzat Partners (Allstar Investor Winners and Trivago investors) and a group of angel investors with backgrounds ranging from eBay, Gumtree, Zoopla, Skype and more.” MyOnlineSchool offers online “vocational and hobbyist” courses.


US high school graduate rates: getting better.

One-Fourth of Incoming College Freshmen Say Racism Is No Longer An Issue in America, Proving That Many Whites Live in a State of Self-Delusion.”

Digital Promise released a report: “Developing a System of Micro-credentials: Supporting Deeper Learning in the Classroom.”

Elite University Degrees Do Not Protect Black People From Racism.” In other breaking news: “Academia is not a meritocracy.”

In still more breaking news: a job market based on prestige and not meritocracy values college degrees.

Via the NYT’s Claire Cain Miller: “How Elementary School Teachers' Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science.”

Via HCM Strategists (funded by the Gates Foundation): “Who’s Tying Money to College Performance, and How?”

Also funded by the Gates Foundation, a survey on “faculty attitudes.” (I hope some survey asks if they’re sick of being surveyed by the Gates Foundation.)

For the 35th year in a row, Johns Hopkins University spent more on research than any American university, according to the National Science Foundation.” Elsewhere, university spending on research was also up slightly in 2013.

According to the Advocates for Children, “Most of New York City's charter schools have disciplinary codes that do not meet either state or federal requirements.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Overall enrollment in foreign language courses is down for the first time since about 1995, and enrollments in major European languages – including Spanish – are way down, according to a new report from the Modern Language Association.”

Via Vox: “Why Teach for America isn’t as popular as it used to be.”

According to the Education Intelligence Agency, non-union teachers are not the majority of public school teachers in the US.

Flip Side of Reducing Student Debt Is Increasing the Federal Deficit” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“Attacks against girls attending school or seeking access to education appear to be increasing around the world despite legal protections of gender equality, the United Nations said….” The report chronicles over attacks in over 70 countries from 2009 to 2014.

The latest Horizon Report for Higher Education. On the horizon: BYOD, maker spaces, the flipped classroom, wearable technologies, adaptive learning, and the Internet of Things. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Remember how last fall people were upset that Harvard researchers had surreptitiously recorded classrooms to gauge student attendance? Anyway… the research is now available. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

From Edsurge: "How Being a CEO and Teaching Aren't So Different." Maximum Kaomoji usage in one post reached. No longer able to shrug at the ed-tech bullshit.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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