Education Politics

Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that ends California’s personal exemption for vaccination for school children.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Education Affiliates, a for-profit chain with 50 campuses, has settled with the federal government over false-claim allegations, the U.S. Department of Justice said. The Maryland-based company agreed to pay $13 million in response to allegations that it received aid payments from unqualified students, some of whom the for-profit admitted by creating false or fraudulent high school diplomas.”

The US House of Representatives might vote next week on its NCLB re-write. Maybe.

Via Politico: “Maine’s government watchdog panel has greenlit an investigation into whether Republican Gov. Paul LePage abused his power by pressuring a charter school to fire his political adversary, Maine Public Broadcasting reports. Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves, president of Good Will-Hinckley school, alleges he was fired after LePage threatened to block the transfer of half a million dollars in state funds to the school. LePage says that his office doesn’t qualify as a state agency and is therefore immune to the government watchdog’s probe.”

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “ Employers have considerable leeway to use unpaid interns legally when the work serves an educational purpose, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, setting aside a lower court decision that the movie studio Fox Searchlight Pictures had improperly classified former workers as unpaid interns rather than employees.”

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging public sector union’s ability to compel nonmembers to pay service fees.

The Supreme Court has also agreed to hear (again) a challenge to affirmative action and admissions at UT Austin.

Testing, Testing…

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Ohio picks AIR to replace just-ousted PARCC for Common Core tests.”


Practical Guidance from MOOC Research: Student Diversity,” by Justin Reich.

MIT Researchers Develop Model To Predict MOOC Dropouts.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that federal financial aid might be extended to “ed-tech upstarts,” including “edX and Udacity, and coding schools like General Assembly and Pluralsight.” (That means they’d have to respect FERPA and Title IX, right? That’ll be fun to watch.)

Slate goes with the headline “Can an Online Teaching Tool Solve One of Higher Education's Biggest Headaches?” And I’m going to go with the answer “No.”

Meanwhile on Campus

The University of Phoenix is making massive layoffs and cutting degree programs. It let go 600 people on Monday, after revealing that it had already laid off 900 employees this year. MindWires Consulting’s Phil Hill also observes that the university is “Losing hundreds of millions of dollars on adaptive-learning LMS bet.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The messy dismantling of Corinthian Colleges is moving through a federal bankruptcy court, as a judge mulls whether to halt loan repayments for up to 350,000 former students and the defunct for-profit chain seeks the court’s approval for the fire sale of its remaining assets - including trademarks, furniture and even old diplomas and typewriters.”

Community Care College, a for-profit college in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has switched to being a not-for-profit.

Glued to the screen: A third grade class where kids spend 75% of the day on iPads.”

ASU Is No Longer Using Khan Academy In Developmental Math Program.”

Go, School Sports Team!

NCAA’s Mark Emmert made more than $1.8 million in 2013.”

From the HR Department

Sonia Manzano is retiring from Sesame Street at the end of this season, having played Maria for 44 years.

No, Zandria Robinson was not fired by the University of Memphis.


There was a big ed-tech conference in Philadelphia this week. ISTE says about 21K people attended – but remember, (roughly) for every two teachers present, there’s one exhibitor. Edsurge has a round-up of some of the company news announced onsite.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Microsoft has launched an education portal for Minecraft. (There’s really nothing there.)

Google Classroom now has an API.

“Rupert Murdoch’s Education Company Will Stop Making Tablets,” reports Buzzfeed. Ciao, Amplify.

Vicki Davis and Angela Maiers Sign Brand Management Contracts with SyndicatED.” I honestly do not understand why someone would want to be a brand or to have their brand managed. People > products. Elsewhere: “Angela Maiers and Choose2Matter, Inc. collaborate with Microsoft for authentic, passion-driven learning.”

The American Federation of Teachers will now operate its lesson marketplace ShareMyLesson on its own. It had developed the site in partnership with TES Global, who now plans to launch a competing service.

Via Edsurge: “International nonprofits Camfed and Worldreader will partner to provide eBooks to female students in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Messaging app Celly has launched a crowdfunding platform for schools.

Funding and Acquisitions

McGraw-Hill Education is selling most of its testing business to Data Recognition Corporation. “DRC will acquire ‘key assets’ of McGraw-Hill Education’s CTB assessment business, the organizations said. Those assets include McGraw-Hill’s existing state testing contracts, as well as a lineup of other assessment products, including TerraNova, LAS Links, and the Test Assessing Secondary Completion, or TASC, a high school equivalency exam,” says Education Week. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Lost My Name has raised $9 million from Google Ventures, Greycroft, The Chernin Group, Allen & Co, and Cris Conde. The “personalized storytelling” company has raised $9.8 million.

Bloomboard has raised $7.2 million from Birchmere Ventures, the Gates Foundation, Learn Capital, Dell Foundation, and Gera Ventures. The professional-development-for-teachers startup has raised $12.2 million total.

PowerToFly has raised $6.5 million from Crosslink Capital, Hearst Ventures, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures. The site, which offers “an online marketplace connecting women to jobs, focusing on positions that allow mothers to work remotely,” has raised $7.5 million total.

The test prep company ScoreBeyond has raised $2.8 million from Khosla Ventures. This is a great quote from the CEO: “These tests exist because they are an amazing way to test students' masteries of a subject. The SAT is designed to measure skills you would use in college–math, writing, and understanding grammar.” Riiiight. $2.8 million to a guy who doesn't even understand psychometrics. Awesome work, venture capitalists.

One Month has raised $1.9 million from Arena Ventures, Idea Bulb Ventures, and Cornerstone OnDemand. The startup, which launched promising to teach people to code in one month, has raised $2.7 million total.

Calolo has raised $100,000 from friends and family for its app “to help students get organized around applying to college.”

Apollo Education Group, the parent company of the University of Pheonix, has acquired the coding bootcamp Iron Yard.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via Techcrunch: “Harvard Reveals It Had An IT Breach In June Impacting 8 Colleges And Administrations.”

Via The New York Times: “When a Company Is Put Up for Sale, in Many Cases, Your Personal Data Is, Too.”

No Child Left Un-Mined? Student Privacy at Risk in the Age of Big Data.”

Data and “Research”

MindWires Consulting’s Phil Hill says that, “D2L Again Misusing Academic Data For Brightspace Marketing Claims.”

According to a report produced by the Software and Information Industry Association, “Educational institutions in higher ed and K–12 are making slow but steady progress toward instructional and operational goals, such as improved use of student data, through use of technology.” Thank goodness for industry organizations, otherwise how would we ever know that.

Professor Says Facebook Can Help Informal Learning.”

The latest from the Pew Research Center: “Americans, Politics and Science Issues” and “Americans’ Internet Access: 2000–2015.”

The Horizon Report: 2015 K–12 Edition. On the horizon in one year or less, according to the report: BYOD and makerspaces.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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