Education Politics

Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have reintroduced their update to FERPA, the “Protecting Student Privacy Act.” And David Vitter (R-LA) introduced his “Student Privacy Protection Act.” Vitter’s bill, according to Education Week, “would expand the types of student information covered under FERPA, require educational institutions to obtain prior consent from parents before sharing that information with third parties, outlaw a host of data-sharing practices that have become commonplace over the past decade, and require educational agencies and private actors who violate FERPA to pay cash penalties to individual families.”

Via the Sacramento Bee: “Gov. Jerry Brown presented a revised $115.3 billion general fund spending plan Thursday that includes hundreds of millions in additional money for the University of California in return for a tuition freeze on in-state students.” Here’s The New York Times’ take.

“Bills that would decriminalize truancy are moving through the Texas legislature, with the state House recently passing HB 2632. The bill would eliminate criminal penalties and institute fines for students who chronically skip school,” reports Politico.

The California State Senate has passed a bill that would mandate vaccinations for school children.

From the AP: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is opening a public inquiry Thursday into student loan servicing practices that it says can make paying back loans ‘stressful or harmful.’”

Interest rates on federal student loans will drop to 4.29%.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education says it will standardize how colleges in the state accept “prior learning” for credit.

Moody’s has downgraded the credit rating of the Chicago Public Schools. Heckuva job, Rahm.

Education in the Courts

The US Department of Justice has joined a lawsuit by a student at Miami University in Ohio that charges the university has violated the ADA by adopting education technologies that are inaccessible to the disabled. The software listed in the suit includes the university’s websites, YouTube, Vimeo, TurnItIn, Google Docs, and more.

University of Virginia associate dean Nicole Eramo is suing Rolling Stone and journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely for defamation “alleging that it portrayed her as callous and indifferent to allegations of sexual assault on campus and made her the university’s ‘chief villain’ in a now-debunked article about a fraternity gang rape.”

Ivy Bridge Education has filed a lawsuit against the accreditor that put it out of business. Via Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy: “The education company filed suit today against the Higher Learning Commission, alleging that the accreditor illegally ‘strong-armed’ the closure of Ivy Bridge College as part of a ‘witch hunt’ against nontraditional higher education.”

California’s teachers’ unions have filed their opening brief in their appeal of Vergara v California, a decision that overturned the state’s tenure laws. More via Education Week. (Meanwhile, the group behind Vergara, Student Matters, had its website hacked.)

The SEC has filed a lawsuit against ITT “charging the large for-profit chain and its two top executives with fraud for allegedly concealing massive losses in two student loan programs the company backed.”

From the Palm Beach Post: “The principal of the Mavericks High of Palm Springs charter school has been suspended after police say they caught her in a marijuana-filled car with one of her students.” (Bonus: “The Mavericks charter school chain was founded by Frank Biden, brother of Vice President Joe Biden.”)

Testing, Testing…

Security breach on the SAT. Security breach. Security breach.

From the AP: “Online Common Core testing lays bare tech divide as slow Internet speeds plague rural schools.”

Pearson Blames ‘Third Party’ Attack for Disrupting Minnesota Online Tests.” I love it how everyone uses the excuse “Oh, we were DDOSed!” now when their sites go down.

“Testing company Pearson – slated to run Indiana’s statewide ISTEP+ tests beginning in 2016 – is facing criticism over security of assessments it handles in other states,” Indiana Public Media reports. (Indiana has chosen to ditch its current testing provider CTB-McGraw Hill to go with Pearson. LOL. Good luck with that!)


FutureLearn has signed a deal with Pearson to have the education giant handle administration of its MOOC tests. I mean, if it’s good enough for the Common Core tests, it’s gotta be good enough for MOOCs. Right?

edX is teaming up with Qualcomm, and according to the marketingspeak it’s “a collaboration aimed at further developing edX’s MOOC mobile capabilities and enhance its open source platform to benefit connected learners around the world.”

(Once upon a time this was a #Slatepitch. Now, it’s a Campus Technology article) “When Actors Replace Instructors as On-Camera Talent

UC Irvine is offering a MOOC on the TV show The Strain.

HarvardX’s Justin Reich reports from China, “where everything is a MOOC.” (And here’s the report from the World Bank’s Michael Trucano on the same event.)

FutureLearn, bless its heart, boasts that it has the MOOC with a record number of students: “FutureLearn says it has 370,000 students enrolled for a British Council course preparing for an English language test,” the BBC dutifully reports.

Disrupting Medical Education” with MOOCs. Eek?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “Four liberal-arts colleges on Monday formed a consortium to share information about their experiments with online education, and more members may soon join in.” It does not, however, report the name of the consortium, which I’m hoping is LiberalArtsX or UberLearn or Voracity or something like that.

Meanwhile on Campus

Virginia’s community college system is piloting an open textbook initiative, reports Campus Technology. “VCCS plans to model its open textbook initiative on Tidewater’s Z-Degree program. The pilot program will run at 15 of Virginia’s community colleges and is expected to save 50,000 students more than $5 million dollars in the first year.” Ink, Bits, & Pixels has more details.

Entire USC MFA 1st Year Class is Dropping Out.”

Waiting While Black: University Student Accused of ‘Harassment’ for Wanting to Talk to Adviser.” Kennesaw State University, that is.

The LAUSD iPad debacle is obviously an opportunity for every local education reporter to write about what their district’s doing differently. Oh, and also an opportunity for Wired magazine to cite Michael Horn. Again.

Gifts: $100 million to the UCLA Business School from Marion Anderson. $150 million to the Yale Cultural Hub from Stephen Schwarzman.


Congratulations, Class of 2015. (You are the most indebted in history.) Special shout out to Dr. Kanye West, Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Dr. Bonnie Stewart.

Go, School Sports Team!

Vox’s Libby Nelson collected Simon Cvijanović’s tweets, arguing they “show why college athletes need unions.” Cvijanović is a former offensive lineman at the University of Illinois who experienced a season-ending injury.

From the HR Department

Boston University (incoming) assistant professor of sociology Saida Grundy came under fire this week after conservative news sites had their feelings hurt by things she tweeted about white male privilege. She says she regrets the tweets. (Read: Tressie McMillan Cottom on public scholarship and public speech.)

Harvard University Librarian Robert Darnton has retired.

The Orange, New Jersey school board has decided to fire Marylin Zuniga, a third-grade teacher who allowed her students to write “get well” cards to Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Upgrades and Downgrades

NewSchool Venture Fund has spun out and rebranded its seed fund: Reach Capital. More from the new investment firm here.

Edsurge is now posting stuff to Pinterest.

“A South Carolina school district is partnering with the local housing authority and two wireless service providers to get all students connected to high-speed Internet. Kajeet and Novatel Wireless are providing students in Spartanburg School District Seven with filtered, high-speed broadband in the form of mobile hotspots placed in public housing,” reports Politico.

Moodle 2.9, guys.

From Amazon: AWS Educate, which will provide students and teachers with “grants of AWS credits for use in courses and projects” and more.

The CHIP is a $9 computer. Or at least, it’s a Kickstarter campaign for a $9 computer.

HathiTrust Research Center Releases Massive Dataset of Features Derived from Public Domain Corpus.”

Funding and Acquisitions

TAL Education Group has acquired the test prep company Gaokaopai. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Brazilian online education company eduK has raised $10 million from Accel Partners, Monashees Capital, and Felicis Ventures.

Knod has raised $3.5 million from Epic Ventures, Impact Investment Leaders, and “undisclosed investors.” The startup, which offers “online experience-based learning program,” has raised $6.2 million total.

Test prep startup Edrolo has raised $2.65 million from “14 different investors,” including Blackbird and AirTree Ventures.

Screencasting app Explain Everything has raised $2 million from Credo Ventures, New Europe Ventures, and RTAventures.

Test prep company Plancess has raised $2 million from the Aarti Group.

Tinkergarten has raised $500,000 in seed funding from Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Structure Capital, John Katzman (founder of 2U, The Princeton Review, Noodle), and Don Katz (founder of Audible). Techcrunch’s Sarah Perez profiles the startup, which “is using technology to get kids back outdoors.”

WaPo’s Valerie Strauss looks at the money the Gates Foundation has invested in Common Core-related initiatives – $10 million over the last seven months.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via The Atlantic: “Long-Range Iris Scanning Is Here. An engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon says he’s invented technology that can identify someone from across the room with the precision of a fingerprint.” What could possibly go wrong?

Well, here’s a chilling headline from Edsurge: “​How Bank Regulation Applies to Student Data Privacy.”

“Anything that can be counted or measured will be,” as The New York Times reports “Some Schools Embrace Demands for Education Data.”

Data and “Research”

OECD ranks schools. News at 11.

A study by the University of North Carolina system (in conjunction with the National Council on Teacher Quality) questions the value of meeting the NCTQ’s teacher education standards.

The report will cost you – “Ka’Ching” – but according to a promo for Edsurge’s latest findings on venture capital and ed-tech, “More Money, Fewer Deals.”

The US Department of Education has released data that it says shows that school bullying is on the decline.

The US high school graduation rate has hit a record high (81%).

Educause has released a white paper on “next generation learning management systems,” a phrase that totally bums me out.

Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill pushes back on PR: “About Those D2L Claims of LMS Usage Increasing Retention Rates.”

Via David Perry: “The New York Times Confirms Academic Stereotypes: Two months of opinion essays on higher education.”

“Should teachers be evaluated on how ‘gritty’ their students are?” asks The Washington Post. I’m gonna go with “Nope,” a response echoed by “grit”-promoter Angela Duckworth.

The NEPC reviews a recent report by the Center for American Progress on turnaround schools. tl;dr “The report’s recommendations are unsupported by rigorous research.”

This week's final word on bullshittery in research and marketing: the Luminosity edition.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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