Education Politics

No Child Left Behind looks to be replaced by another set of meaningless words: “the Every Child Achieves Act,” which passed the Senate this week. The House’s version, “the Student Success Act” passed last week, so it’s on to committee. “The Senate’s plan to replace No Child Left Behind, explained.” A related explainer also from Vox’s Libby Nelson: “The bizarre alliance between Republicans and teachers unions, explained.”

(Yet Another) Federal Student-Data-Privacy Bill Introduced”: “The SAFE KIDS Act would prohibit ed-tech companies and operators from selling student data, using that information to target advertising to students, or disclosing such information to unapproved third parties.”

ConnectHome: a new Obama Administration initiative to expand access to broadband to low-income families in order to address the “homework gap.”

Wisconsin governor (and presidential candidate) Scott Walker signed a budget bill this week that, among other things, weakened tenure protections for professors at the state’s public universities. (More via Politico and Inside Higher Ed.) University of Wisconsin professor Sara Goldrick-Rab has angered conservatives (and some university officials) by being outspoken and highly critical about Walker’s policies.

The state of Missouri has banned college aid for undocumented students.

The US Department of Education will delay some loan collection for former Corinthian College students.

28 primary school teachers were killed in Nigeria in an attack by Boko Haram.

Education in the Courts

Students Matter, an advocacy group that sued California over its teacher tenure laws, is now suing 13 school districts in the state for not using test scores in teacher evaluations.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Two doctoral students at the University of California at Los Angeles who say they were sexually harassed and assaulted by a history professor over a period of years have sued the university for allegedly doing little to help them.”

Testing, Testing…

A New Mexico district court judge has “found that the American Institutes for Research lacked proper legal standing to appeal a decision by the states belonging to the consortium, PARCC, to award an enormously lucrative contract to Pearson,” Education Week reports.

Massachusetts might be the next state to ditch PARCC.

Why big civil rights groups think standardized testing is good for kids.”

Testing Revolt In Washington State Brings Feds Into Uncharted Waters” – more than 42,000 11th graders did not take their mandated standardized tests this year, NPR reports.


Chinese MOOC students no longer need to use a credit card to pay for their Coursera certificates now that the company has partnered with the Chinese online payment platform Alipay.

Practical Guidance from MOOC Research: Helping Busy Students Stick to Plans” and “Practical Guidance from MOOC Research: Persistence and Activity” by Justin Reich.

Updates on Unizin from Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill. (I’m still not clear on what exactly Unizin is but Hill’s updates make it clear that there’s probably no point in worrying too much about that.)

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Stirring Fear and Hope, U. of Akron Mulls an Aggressive Move Online.”

Meanwhile on Campus

Mount St. Clare College will close its doors in 2016. Bridgepoint Education bought the college in order to secure accreditation for its for-profit Ashford University, but apparently it has now served its purpose.

The University of Toronto has canceled a class on alternative medicine that was to be taught by a homeopath/anti-vaxxer.

According to Mother Jones, “At least 28 students have been seriously injured – and one killed – in the past 5 years” by school police.

Go, School Sports Team!

The University of Michigan is going Nike with “a deal valued at $169 million that begins Aug. 1, 2016 and runs through 2027, with a school option to extend it to 2031. Nike will supply uniforms, footwear, apparel and equipment for all 31 varsity athletic teams. The financial terms total $122.3 million guaranteed, with Michigan receiving $12 million cash up front (due Thursday), $56.8 million in equipment and apparel and $53.5 million total in cash, paid annually.”

Florida State Vows to Improve Conduct of Athletes.”

The University of Akron is scrapping its baseball team.

From the HR Department

A job posting for “Volunteer Professor.”

Maria Andersen is the new Director of Learning Design at Western Governors University.

Education giant Pearson lays off 208 Texas employees, mostly in Austin.”

For-profit Devry University is laying off 90 employees and closing its Chicago office.

Via Boing Boing: “With faked degrees, U.S. tech official ran law enforcement data systems for years. Then he resigned, got a new gov job.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

TurnItIn remains terrible.

Via Education Week: “Microsoft Server 2003’s Demise Could Bring Tech Woes for Unprepared Schools.”

The Boy Scouts of America voted to end its ban on gay scout leaders.

4.0 Schools will take over the administration of Startup Weekend EDUs.

The latest in robots-replacing-teachers, via Edsurge: “Watson Beat Jeopardy – Can It Beat Teacher Burnout and Fix Education?

Instructure: Accelerating growth in 3 parallel markets,” says Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill. “Instructure Is Truly Anomalous,” says Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

Funding, Acquisitions, and Spinoffs

Corporate training platform XanEdu has raised $8.1 million from Superior Capital Partners and Plymouth Ventures. The company has raised $12.8 million total.

McGraw-Hill has invested $6.7 million in the language learning company Busuu. Busuu has raised $11.4 million total.

Corporate training platform mLevel has raised $5.3 million from BIP Capital.

ThirdSpaceLearning has raised $2.3 million from Ananda - Social Venture Fund and Nesta. The tutoring company has raised $3.6 million total.

ClassWallet has raised $1.9 million from NewSchools Venture Seed Fund, Kaplan Ventures, William Gutman, Accelerated Growth Partners, and MaverixLab. The company, which helps schools manage classroom spending, has raised $3.1 million total.

Feedback tool Kaizena has raised $900,000 in seed funding from NewsSchools Venture Fund Seed, Horizons Ventures, Umang Gupta, LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner, Tom Williams, and Victor Alcantara.

Pluralsight has acquired live instructor help site HackHands for an undisclosed sum.

“Barnes & Noble Inc. said Tuesday its board has approved the spinoff of its education business, which is expected to begin regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange Aug. 3,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Chinese gaming company NetDragon has acquired interactive whiteboard maker Promethean for $130 million.

Atomic Learning has acquired Versifit Technologies, which according to the press release is “a leading provider of data warehousing and analytic reporting platforms in education.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Data and Surveillance

Software that UK schools are using to monitor students’ Internet use has a major security flaw: “a flaw in the company’s encryption protocols which could allow almost anyone to gain full access to computers running the Impero software, run software such as spyware on the systems, or access files and records stored on them.”

Data and “Research”

It’s always depressing and a little embarrassing to read what tech investors think about education. Here’s Edsurge with “5 Questions With Mark Cuban on Higher Education and His Newest Edtech Investment.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The American Psychological Association gave psychologists involved in the often-brutal interrogation of detainees at Guant√°namo Bay and elsewhere a free pass. The association tweaked its ethics code for the convenience of the U.S. military. For years it failed to investigate serious complaints of unethical conduct – and when it did investigate, its efforts were laughable.”

From the Pew Research Center: “Parents and Social Media.”

According to a study from the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy (as reported in The Atlantic), “dual-enrollment programs, where students take classes simultaneously in high school and at a local college, have proven especially successful at getting less-affluent and first-generation students into college – and through it.”

Brain Waves May Help Diagnose Reading Problems Early,” says Pacific Standard. My brain waves help me to be skeptical of neuro-bollocks.

New study finds that one in 10 male college students have committed rape.”

Only tangentially related to ed-tech, I suppose, but I’m including it here anyway: “Study: Low status men more likely to bully women online.”

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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