Education Politics

Expanding on President Obama’s plan for two years of free community college education, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing “the federal government … give $18 billion a year in dollar-for-dollar matching grants to states, which he says would allow them to slash public college tuition by 55 percent. He said this would apply to students at all public universities and colleges.”

Wisconsin governor (and likely presidential candidate) Scott Walker does not have a college degree. Cue the think-pieces: "Why Scott Walker's lack of a college diploma doesn't matter." And “Graduating university isn’t evidence of leadership. Neither is not graduating.”

If the governor signs the bill, Arkansas will soon require students in public schools in the state be taught cursive.

From Inside Higher Ed: “Illinois’s new governor, Bruce Rauner, this week proposed a $387 million cut to the state’s higher education budget. About $209 million of that will come from the University of Illinois – that’s nearly one-third of the system’s state subsidy.”

A handful of student activists occupied the headquarters of Newark Public Schools, protesting the leadership of superintendent Cami Anderson and demanding her resignation.

An Oklahoma legislative committee voted this week to ban the teaching of AP US History in the state, arguing that the curriculum was un-patriotic. More via NPR.

The Jefferson County School Board, where students protested last year after it said it was going to review the AP US History curriculum to make sure it sufficiently promoted patriotism, now says it that plans no such review.

A legislative committee in Arizona is moving forward with an effort to dump the Common Core (and its associated tests) in that state.

From In These Times: “How Mexican Teachers Are Fighting Standardized Tests and Corporate Education Reform.”


Looks like LAUSD cannot afford one iPad (or computer) for every student and staff after all. Instead, the Superintendent Ramon Cortines said “the L.A. Unified School District will try to provide computers to students when needed for instruction and testing.”


“The New York Times and CIG Education Group have come together to launch NYT EDUcation, a new education initiative,” says the press release. “NYT EDUcation will provide innovative courses and programs covering a wide array of subjects, including communications and media, which reflect the authoritative content and intellectual breadth of The New York Times.” Oh I sure hope David Brooks or Thomas Friedman offer a class on NYT coverage of MOOCs.

Meanwhile on Campus

The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign issued DMCA takedowns over students’ computer science homework that had been posted to GitHub. The university later backed down, apparently recognizing the importance of open source and open collaboration. More on the story in Inside Higher Ed.

The State Department said it was surprised to learn that UMass was banning Iranian students from its engineering programs. The school later reversed its policy.

William Scheide has bequeathed his rare books collection to Princeton University. Appraised at $300 million, it’s the largest gift in the university’s history.

Oops. Carnegie Mellon sent 800 students letters telling them they’d been admitted to its prestigious CS program – in error.

Via The New York Times: “A Yale fraternity has been banned from conducting on-campus activities until August 2016 as punishment for violating the university’s sexual misconduct policy at an initiation ceremony last year and then trying to impede the resulting investigation.”

“As gun rights advocates push to legalize firearms on college campuses, an argument is taking shape: Arming female students will help reduce sexual assaults,” says The New York Times.

“Can Dartmouth Rehabilitate Itself?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Delta Kappa Epsilon is suing Wesleyan University over its order to admit women to the fraternity.

According to the Sacramento Bee, “The California Student Aid Commission has halted funding for Heald College after the for-profit chain failed to provide required documents demonstrating that it is financially stable.”

“The financial aid director at North Idaho College was arrested this month and fired for offering to trade scholarships for sex with a student,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

Go, School Sports Team!

The First Lawsuit Over Concussions in Pop Warner Football.”

Via CBS Sports: “Several conference commissioners say it’s time to consider making freshmen – or at least some of them – ineligible, again, for the first time since the NCAA rule changed in 1972.”

From the HR Department

Faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield have voted to unionize.

Upgrades and Downgrades

From Bruce Schneier: “For the past few months, Lenovo PCs have shipped with an adware app called Superfish that man-in-the-middles TLS connections. Here’s how it works, and here’s how to get rid of it. And you should get rid of it, not merely because it’s nasty adware. It’s a security risk. Someone with the password – here it is, cracked – can perform a man-in-the-middle attack on your security as well.”

And speaking of surveillance: “It’ll Be A Lot Harder To Cut Class With This Classroom Facial-Recognition App” says Fast Company in an article that raises zero questions about privacy or ethics but notes the app is “unobtrusive.”

It’s time once again for the annual Google Science Fair.

Google is closing its Helpouts platform (where “experts” could offer advice via Hangouts).

Wired profiles Stop!t, an app that lets students report bullying anonymously.

Knewton partners with Cengage.

From Edsurge: “Jeffersonian Meritocracy: A New Accelerator for Edtech Research.” That is, a new ed-tech accelerator at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education.

The Pope is also getting into the education accelerator business with a program called Scholas Labs.

“Codecademy CEO Zach Sims Wants To Fix The Broken Education System,” according to an interview in Benzinga. Apparently the startup is still not looking to make money. (The learn-to-code company last raised funding in 2013, so yeah. I don’t buy it that money isn’t an issue.)

Rafranz Davis writes, “shocked,” about Mission US: Flight to Freedom, a slavery simulation promoted in Common Sense Media’s Black History month email. In an op-ed in Edsurge, the producer of the slavery simulation says “we regret to hear that some people have found the game to be problematic, we stand by it.”

Submit a math activity to the Museum of Math that’ll appear on its jumbotron floor display.

Funding and Acquisitions

Instructure has raised $40 million and says it’s on course for an IPO. The funding came from Insight Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and EPIC Ventures. The LMS startup has now raised over $79 million. According to the press release, this latest round of funding will help Instructure move into corporate training. Phil Hill writes “What TechCrunch Got Wrong (and Right) About Instructure Entering Corporate Learning Market.”

Chinese homework platform 17zuoye has raised $100 million from H Capital, Temasek, Yuri Milner/DST, and Shunwei. This brings to $135 million total invested in the company.

NoRedInk has raised $6 million from True Ventures, the Social+Capital Partnership, Kapor Capital, and Rethink Education. The startup, which offers online grammar exercises, has raised $8 million total.

Video training platform Grovo has raised $15 million from Costanoa Venture Capital, Greg Waldorf, and SoftTech VC. The startup has raised $22 million total.

NVBots has raised $2 million in seed funding. The startup offers wireless 3D printing to schools.

Fedora, a site that according to Techcrunch “hopes to completely change the way that teachers think about their profession by offering them a platform to create online ‘schools.’” has raised $2 million from Atlas Ventures and other angel investors.

Renaissance Learning Acquires UClass, a ‘Dropbox for Education.’

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has made a $2 million gift to Rocketship Schools.


Tech blog Techcrunch reviews ed-tech investment.

What are the ethical implications of researchers and scholars using services like Mechanical Turk, asks Nathan Schneider in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

A report finds that “about 80 percent of Michigan charter schools perform below the state average in reading and 84 percent below average in math.”

10 most (and least) popular Advanced Placement (AP) subjects.”

Less than half of English and modern languages PhDs are on the tenure track.

Reported by the BBC: “scientists have identified the part of the brain that teachers use to detect when their pupils do not understand what they are being taught. Researchers found that a brain region called the anterior cingulate cortex picks up how mistaken students are.”

Student loan delinquencies are on the rise. 11.3% of student loans were delinquent in the last quarter of 2014, reports Bloomberg.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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