Education Politics

Chris Christie was for the Common Core before he was against it. (He’s proposed that New Jersey drop the standards that Christie once pushed for.) As Politico notes, “The Republican flip-flop on the Common Core is nearly complete,” with almost every (potential) Republican presidential candidate now opposing the CCSS – save Jeb Bush.

“Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sought – and received – advice from Jeb Bush about how to deal with Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s concerns about Common Core, emails obtained by BuzzFeed News show.”

Meanwhile in Newark, thousands of high school students walked out in a major protest of the designation of eight schools as “turnaround schools.”

A bill has passed the Michigan Senate that would strip families of welfare benefits if their child misses too much school.

The FCC might make changes to its “Lifeline” program. The program currently helps subsidize phone service for low-income families, and the FCC is weighing whether or not it could help pay for broadband service as well.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Education said Tuesday that its four main federal student loan servicers, including Navient, have mostly followed the law in granting special interest-rate benefits to members of the military.” I love that adverb there: “mostly.”

The Copyright Board of Canada has delivered what Michael Geist calls a “devastating defeat” to Access Copyright, rejecting much of the latter’s claims for how (and how much) it be reimbursed for use of copyrighted materials.

The Scottish government has banned the teaching of creationism in science classes.

Many students in Silicon Valley community not reading by 3rd grade,” so San Mateo County is launching a campaign that will, among other things, help expand preschool programs for low-income families.

Education in the Courts

A district court judge has tossed out a lawsuit filed by for-profit colleges challenging the Obama Administration’s new “gainful employment” rules.

“Neither the legal principle of academic freedom nor the receipt of outside financial support for his work gives a public-college lecturer a right to declare his correspondence private, the University of Kansas argued this week in state court.” More on the legal battle between the university’s director of Center for Applied Economics and Students for a Sustainable Future in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“A Georgia woman likely faces probation after she was arrested and put in ankle shackles earlier this month because of her son’s school absences,” says

Testing, Testing…

Via PBS NewsHour: “What galvanized standardized testing's opt-out movement.”

The New York Times reports that 15 Chinese nationals have been accused of cheating on the SAT, “with a scheme that involved fake passports and test-taking impostors.”


Some historians at the University of Oklahoma aren’t too thrilled about the school’s partnership with the History Channel (because, ya know, there is no “history” there.) More via Inside Higher Ed and OU instructor Laura Gibbs.

The Invisible Learners Taking MOOCs” by George Veletsianos.

Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill looks at reports that the University of Florida Online is not meeting its enrollment goals. Here’s The Chronicle of Higher Education’s coverage.

Meanwhile on Campus

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill board has voted to change the name of Saunders Hall, which was named after a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

In other NC higher ed news: the state’s Board of Governors has voted to eliminate 46 degree programs across the UNC-System.

“7 in 10 schools now have shooting drills, needlessly traumatizing huge numbers of children,” Vox reports.

The Washington Post mocks Harvard undergraduates because apparently they aren’t having sex.

NYU says its admissions officers will no longer review take into consideration if applicants have a criminal record.

Via NiemanLab: “What happened when a college newspaper abandoned its website for Medium and Twitter.” (A look at student journalism at Mt. San Antonio College.)

Via Campus Technology: “Why Blogging Is Key to the Future of Higher Ed.” (A look at the digital learning initiatives out of Virginia Commonwealth University.)

Another example of a wealthy tech exec creating his own school because “regular school” (public school) just wasn’t cutting it: “Elon Musk created his own grade school for the children of SpaceX employees.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Oh look! More news from North Carolina! “UNC receives Notice of Allegations from NCAA” regarding pervasive academic fraud and “paper classes” for athletes.

Congratulations to the University of Tokyo baseball team, which has ended its 94 game losing streak.

USA Today reports that just 24 of 230 public schools in Division I" have self-sufficient athletics programs.

Oregon led the nation with $196 million total operating revenue and an $83.5 million difference between its generated revenue and its total operating expense of $110.4 million. However, the school reported that its revenue included in-kind facility gifts of $95 million – the value of a football training facility funded primarily by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife.

Spelling as Sport

Congratulations to Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam, co-champs of this year’s Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.

From the HR Department

The one-and-only Jim Groom has submitted his resignation from the University of Mary Washington in order to work full-time at Reclaim Hosting, helping spread the good word on “Domain of One’s Own”-ish efforts.

Louise Richardson will become Oxford University’s new vice chancellor – the university’s 272nd vice chancellor and the first woman to hold the job.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Onstage at its annual developer/marketing event Google IO, Google said that it would release something called “Expeditions” this fall – “virtual field trips” that utilize Google’s cardboard-wrapper-for-Android-phone-VR-viewer.

Meanwhile, according to a patent application, “Google wants to make creepy bunny robots to talk to your kids.”

“Startup Aims to Make Silicon Valley an Actual Meritocracy,” says Wired which is always the publication I turn to for insights on “actual meritocracy.” (The startup in question is Gradberry, a Y Combinator-backed artificial intelligence recruitment tool.)

Inside Higher Ed covers D2L’s new adaptive learning offering. Inside Higher Ed covers Ranku’s marketing efforts helping Columbia attract more online students.

Education Week covers The Learning Accelerator’s plans for a “pricing database” that would allow districts “to share information on the costs they’re paying for education technology – primarily desktop computers, laptops, and tablets.”

A web standard for annotations? “Introducting for Education.”

Ed-Tech Investment (Singular)

Online tutoring company Boost Academy has raised $600,000 in seed funding from Tom Ladt and other investors.

Data and “Research”

The National Center for Education Statistics released its annual report on “The Condition of Education 2015.” According to the report, approximately 21% of school-age children live in poverty (that is, they live in families with household incomes of less than $15,510). That’s a 50% increase since 2000.

According to a survey conducted by Northwestern University, approximately 55% of preschool teachers have a tablet computer in the classroom.

Via Education Week: “Data breaches are costing companies in education up to $300 per compromised record, making it the second most impacted sector – behind only healthcare – for businesses with lost or stolen records globally, according to research released Wednesday by the Ponemon Institute.”

KPCC looks at research on Hot Wheels math and science lessons: “Mattel funds classroom lessons that teachers love, critics want to limit.”

Via Politico: “About 39 million people ages 16 to 29 across the globe weren’t employed and weren’t participating in any kind of education or training in 2013. That’s 5 million more than before the economic crisis of 2008, a new OECD report stresses, and 2014 predictions don’t look much better.”

But hey! At least they’ve got mobile phones, right? That’s one of the insights from analyst-turned-VC Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report.

Does Google Help Students Learn (or Just Think They Do?)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Dartmouth College researchers say a new app they have created can predict with great precision the grade point averages of students. The app tracks student behaviors associated with higher or lower GPAs. Students need to report their activities, as the app infers what they are doing and can tell when students are studying, partying or sleeping, among other activities.” Gee, no privacy issues there.


Highly influential educator Grant Wiggins passed away suddenly this week. Wiggins was the author of the 1998 book Understanding by Design, which argued that teachers engage in “backwards design” – that is, determine the learning goals and then design their lessons “backwards” from there in order to meet those goals.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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