Education Politics

Democrats have proposed a number of measures that would expand the Pell Grant program (including the return of Pell Grant money for summer school).

“The U.S. Department of Education has set aside more than $4 million to develop the Obama administration's college ratings system,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Via Politico: “Loan servicer Navient spent $1 million lobbying Congress in the first three months of 2015, new records show, more than the company has spent in any quarter thus far but a little less than Sallie Mae spent in the first quarter of last year. Sallie Mae has wound down its lobbying operation, spending only $60,000 in the first quarter. Other big spenders among education groups in the first quarter of 2015: The Association of American Medical Colleges ($1 million); the National Education Association ($605,000); Apollo Education Group ($350,000); American Federation of Teachers ($332,527) and California State University ($270,000).”

Education in the Courts

Three of the educators recently convicted in the Atlanta cheating case – and who received the harshest sentences – will be re-sentenced.

“A California judge has denied a request for state intervention at six California high schools where students said they had been assigned to multiple contentless classes, were told to go home, or sit idly in classrooms or perform menial administrative tasks.” More on the Cruz v California lawsuit here.

“A judge in Manhattan has ordered a hearing that will touch upon the continuing debate over whether caged chimpanzees can be considered ‘legal persons,’ in the eyes of the law, and thus sue, with human help, for their freedom,” The New York Times reports. The chimps in question are being held by Stony Brook University.

Via the Courthouse News Service: “Donald Trump’s profit-seeking business college must pay $798,000 in legal fees to a former student, for filing an anti-SLAPP suit, a federal judge ruled. Tarla Makaeff sued Trump University and Donald Trump in 2010, in a proposed class action alleging deceptive business practices. Makaeff claimed she shelled out $60,000 for a real estate program that consisted of seminars that were little better than infomercials. Trump University countersued, accusing Makaeff of defaming it in online postings and elsewhere.”

Paul Nungesser, a student accused of rape, is suing Columbia University alleging he has “been the victim of a harassment campaign by the other student, Emma Sulkowicz.” Sulkowicz drew national attention to rape on college campuses by carrying a mattress around with her.

Testing, Testing…

Testing in Minnesota was briefly halted due to “an overloaded processor and a ‘malicious denial-of-service attack’.” Pearson, the company administering the tests, say the problem has been fixed.

Testing in Florida was briefly halted due to a “technical blunder.” The American Institutes for Research, the organization administering the tests, says it’s sorry.

Due to problems with online testing in Nevada, the state is claiming its vendor, SBAC, that it’s in breach of contract.

Up to 14% of students in New Jersey have opted out of state testing.

Via Education Week: “PARCC Opt-Outs Raise Question About Score Validity.”

Opt out of testing? Then “sit and stare.”

The New York Times explores teacher unions’ role in the opt-out movement.

According to a poll by USC and Los Angeles Times, “Majority of California’s Latino voters highly value school testing.” “Only 23% of Latinos said students were tested too much, compared with 44% of white voters.”


Arizona State University announced this week that it’s partnered with edX to offer a freshmen year of college via MOOCs. It’s calling this the Global Freshmen Academy. Students will pay $200 per credit hour (so $600 for a three-credit course), plus a $45 identity verification fee per class. “The catch,” reports The Chronicle of Higher Education: there’s no financial aid. Another “catch”: apparently ASU hasn’t run this plan by its accreditor. Buzzfeed’s coverage. Thoughts from “Dean Dad” Matt Reed. More thoughts from Dean Dad, from John Warner, from Jonathan Rees, and from George Siemens.

Remember Coursera? It’s partnered with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Academic Partnerships says it will share tuition revenue with faculty at its partner institutions. More details via Inside Higher Ed.

Meanwhile on Campus

Via Buzzfeed: “Texas Sends Poor Teens To Adult Jail For Skipping School.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Louisiana State University System is drafting a plan to declare financial exigency, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has proposed massive cuts for higher education and the Legislature’s various versions of his budget have added to the cuts, which now appear to total more than 80 percent of state funds for LSU.”

And more horrors from Louisiana: according to Slate’s Zack Kopplin, “records show teachers and school board members conspiring to teach creationism in public school science class.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Jeremiah True, the Reed College student who made headlines in March for protesting his professor's decision to remove him from class, was arrested on Thursday by the Portland, Oregon police for alleged sex abuse, harassment, and disorderly conduct.”

Jon Krakauer’s new book Missoula examines sexual assault and rape in the Montana city, including on the university campus. According to The New York Times, “the local prosecutor wrote an urgent letter to its publishers trying to delay its release.” God forbid the local prosecutor place similar urgency on addressing assault there.

The latest university to perform what Bryan Alexander calls “the queen sacrifice” – that is, cutting academic programs: the University of Alaska. Or perhaps this is the latest: the University of Wisconsin.

DeVry University plans to close some of its campuses and “rebrand.”

Ohio middle school backs down after deleting ‘feminist’ from student’s class photo shirt.” The school had claimed that the shirt was offensive.

A denial of service attack disrupted the West Virginia public education network, reports Education Week. The attack was traced to a computer lab at an area high school.

Go, School Sports Team!

Apparently University of Alabama at Birmingham’s football program actually made money, according to a study critical of the university’s decision to scrap the program.

From the HR Department

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is taking a leave of absence during a federal probe into the district’s no-bid contract awarded to her former employer SUPES Academy.

Rockville Centre School District (NY) principal Carol Burris has announced her (early) retirement. WaPo’s Valerie Strauss has the story.

Matt Hill has been selected as the new superintendent of the Burbank Unified School District, despite criticism from teachers and Hill’s connection to the Broad Foundation and his involvement in the iPad debacle at his previous employer LAUSD.

Via Buzzfeed: “Here's Marco Rubio's College Syllabus, Reviews, And Personnel File From His Time As A Professor.” Rubio taught at Florida International University for $24,000.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Buzzfeed reports that the 3D printer company MakerBot has closed its stores and laid off about a fifth of its staff after failing to meet its financial targets.

Via Gizmodo: “Norway Will Be the First Country to Turn Off FM Radio in 2017.”

Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill looks at Cisco’s new product Collaborative Knowledge, “designed to allow companies to access real-time expertise and enable collaborative work based on employees’ expertise, or in another word, competencies.”

Phil Hill also looks at updates to 2U’s platform, including the removal of Moodle.

The Online Learning Consortium and MERLOT are merging their scholarly journals. The new journal’s name: Online Learning.

Via Campus Technology: “IMS Global Learning Consortium has unveiled the IMS Digital Credentialing Initiative, an effort designed to promote the adoption, integration and transferability of digital credentials, such as badges.”

Also via Campus Technology: “ProctorU Launches Multifactor Online Student Verification.” This is a fine piece of churnalism that fails to mention the privacy concerns raised by these sorts of products. The article does boast, however, that ProctorU has signed the Student Privacy Pledge, which I think is pretty fair to call industry "privacy-washing" at this stage.

Think Through Learning has become a B Corp.

Awards and Prizes

Congratulations to my (almost) local newspaper The Daily Breeze for its Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. The winning story was its investigation of Centinela Valley Union High School District “which exposed former Superintendent Jose Fernandez's excessive salary and unusual perks as well as other serious issues within the district and its leadership.”

ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones received the Education Writers Association's top prize for her series on US public schools’ ongoing segregation.

Funding, IPOs, and Acquisitions

For-profit college chain Laureate Education plans to IPO, according to Bloomberg.

Oxford University Press has acquired the multilingual dictionary and translation site Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Chinese test prep company Yuantiku has raised $60 million in funding from CMC Capital Partners, New Horizon Capital, IDG, and Matrix Partners China. The company has raised $84.2 million total.

Student retention company Full Measure Education has raised $5.5 million from Safeguard Scientifics, Inc. and Bull City Ventures.

MediaPro, a company which “develops e-learning software for employees at Fortune 500 companies,” has raised $5 million from Clovis Point Capital.

College counseling startup Campus Steps has raised $3 million from its partner company Campus Explorer along with OCA Ventures, Rincon Venture Partners, and Vicente Capital.

Educational game-maker Muzzy Land Software has raised $450,000 from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation.

Data and “Research”

“Promising Results for New Approach to Remedial Math,” says Inside Higher Ed, noting research by MDRC examining a remedial math program that focuses on statistics and quantitative literacy.

Via The New York Times: “Why American Workers Without Much Education Are Being Hammered.”

The latest Horizon Report: the 2015 Museum Edition available (sigh) as a PDF.

The latest Pew Research survey asks Americans about open data and open government initiatives. Among the findings: “20% have used government sources to find information about student or teacher performance.”

More research on the persistent gender gap in computer science.

Research on California’s community colleges by professors at University of California at Davis finds that “online students are not doing as well as those who enroll in face-to-face courses.”

A UC Berkeley study has found “a high percentage of graduate students showing signs of depression.” Shocking.

A survey by the Instructional Technology Council has found an increase in online enrollments at two-year colleges.

A Stanford University study explores the racial biases of teachers when it comes to school discipline.

To Be a Featured Speaker at a Scholarly Meeting, It Helps to Be Male.”

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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