Education Politics

Presidential candidate and clown Donald Trump “criticized the federal government for earning a profit on the federal student loan program,” Inside Higher Ed reports. (Remember that time Trump ran a for-profit “university” that got fined by New York state because it wasn’t accredited and was making false claims? Good times.)

Defunct for-profit Corinthian Colleges has donated over $27,000 to presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s various campaigns over the last five years.

“The U.S. Department of Education continues to work on its plan to grant experimental federal aid eligibility to partnerships between accredited colleges and alternative providers, such as job skills boot camps, coding academies and MOOCs,” Inside Higher Ed reports. I bet the ed-tech industry is pretty stoked to have former VC Ted Mitchell there as the undersecretary of education, eh.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has signed legislation creating a free community college program in the state. (Related: Who’s against tuition-free education?)

Federal Accreditation Advisory Panel Seeks More Power.”

College ratings system proposed by Obama is scrapped.”

Scaled-Back FERPA Overhaul Introduced in U.S. House.”

Via Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy: “One of the country’s largest private student loan servicers, Discover Bank, was fined $18.5 million Wednesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for a host of illegal practices. The action is Bureau’s first action against a student loan servicer, the latest step in the government’s attempts to ferret out bad practices by banks and nonprofits that service private student loans.” Hensley-Clancy also reports on the bad practices of USA Funds: “A student loan guarantor run by a former Bush administration official has sued the Education Department for the right to impose thousands of dollars in fines on struggling borrowers who default on their student loans, but immediately make efforts to repay them.”

Education in the Courts

ProPublica reports that an appeals court in DC has revived a case against AT&T that claims that the company overcharged schools for their Internet service – “a decision that could lead to the disclosure of AT&T’s internal records about the federal program known as E-Rate.”

Judge Rules That University Did Not Hold Fair Trial In Sexual Assault Case.”

Testing, Testing…

Nevada will cut ties with Measured Progress, its standardized testing vendor, after troubles with online testing this spring.

“Congress might end No Child Left Behind, but your kids will still take standardized tests,” says Vox’s Libby Nelson.


Davidson College has launched Davidson Next, its Advanced Placement test prep-as-a-MOOC modules.

The latest in Justin Reich’s series on “Practical Guidance from MOOC Research”: “Students Learn by Doing.”

When One State Required Online Learning in High School, Colleges Saw Changes, Too.” Shocking, I know.

Meanwhile on Campus

The number of for-profit colleges is shrinking, according to data released by the National Center for Education Statistics. (But I’m working on a story on how this sector is now co-opting the “everyone should learn to code” mantra and acquiring coding bootcamps. Boy, it'll sure help when financial aid is available for these, eh? Thanks, Department of Education!)

Who’s actually running America's charter schools?” Great data, maps, and charts from Rutgers professor Bruce Baker.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual list of “Great Colleges to Work For.”

A professor tried to warn incoming freshmen about the gutting of their education. It didn't go well” – Slate’s Rebecca Schuman on University of Wisconsin professor Sara Goldrick-Rab.

Only 85 out of the UK’s 18,5000 professors are black.

The Search for Vanderbilt’s Elusive Red-Tape Study.”

Go, School Sports Team!

A team of American high-school students has won the International Mathematical Olympiad. OK. It’s not sports news.

From the HR Department

Thomas C. Leppert, the CEO of Kaplan, is stepping down.

Sharon van Wyk is the new head of Princeton Review /

Upgrades and Downgrades

Blackboard has a new UI. More on this ever-so-exciting development via Wired, Buzzfeed, and Inside Higher Ed.

Ed-tech for prisoners.

The Library Digital Privacy Pledge.”

A couple of years ago, hardly a week would go by without the announcement of a new ed-tech startup incubator. The trend has died down a bit recently (I think – I’m not seeing as many headlines, at least). However, this week Edsurge notes two new incubators in Southeast Asia: Topica EdTechLab in Hanoi and Lithan EdTech Accelerator in Singapore.

Funding, Mergers, and Acquisitions

Pearson has sold the Financial Times to Japanese media company Nikkei for $1.3 billion. Pearson will now be “be 100 percent focused on our global education strategy,” CEO John Fallon says. (More via Bloomberg Business.) Wheeee.

Higher ed consortium Unizin has acquired digital textbook software company Courseload. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. (More on the implications via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.)

Handsfree Learning will merge with ApprenNet. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. More details on the companies’ backgrounds via Edsurge.

Predictive analytics company Civitas Learning has acquired “student engagement platform” BlikBook. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Catapult Learning has merged with Specialized Education Services, Inc., which according to its own PR, will make it “the nation’s largest provider of contracted instructional services.”

BrightBytes has raised $33 million from Insight Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Learn Capital, and Rethink Education. The company, which measures learning outcomes of ed-tech, has raised $51.5 million total.

DataCamp has raised $1 million in seed funding from Chris Lynch “to develop a data science learning platform.”

Montessorium has raised $1 million from Bluestem Capital Appreciation Fund for its Montessori-branded apps.

Remember how earlier this summer Techcrunch claimed that investment in ed-tech was drying up? Not so fast! Inside Higher Ed reports on “a record-setting year for investments in ed tech.” Education Week writes about the “ed-tech venture capital boom.” Investment analysts CB Insights say that “Funding To VC-Backed Education Technology Startups Soars 96%.”

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via The New York Times: “Information on as many as 4.5 million people was stored on servers that were breached during online attacks beginning last year against UCLA Health, the hospital system of the University of California, Los Angeles.”

ShotSpotter: gunshot detection system raises privacy concerns on campuses.”

The unsurprising response to privacy concerns and proposed privacy legislation from Michael Horn et al: “Privacy Push Must Not Prevent Personalized Learning.”

NSA summer camps: “More hacking than hiking.”

Data and “Research”

Via Edsurge: “Will Teaching New Computer Science Principles Level the Playing Field?” (Me: No. Not until the culture of CS and the tech industry changes.)

Meanwhile: “Is Silicon Valley Driving Teachers Out?” The Atlantic reports that, “As housing costs in America’s tech hub continue to soar, local educators are finding it tough to stay and work in the area.” Level the playing field lulz.

Slate reports that the poverty rate for children in the US is up – some 22% of children live in poverty. And “66 percent of students – 55 percent of non-Hispanic white kids, and more than 80 percent of black and Latino kid – [are] not reading proficiently by fourth grade.”

Via The Washington Post: “This is where your child is most likely to get suspended from school.” (“This” in the headline refers to states in the southeast.)

CREDO has found that charter school students in Texas are making less progress in math and reading than their peers in traditional public schools.

Seattle kids are less likely to get polio vaccine than kids in Rwanda, and rates continue to drop.”

Study of colleges shows ‘encouraging’ texts dramatically cut dropout rates.”

Moody’s Revises Higher Ed Outlook to ‘Stable.’

Stanford University professor Robert Jackler has found the names of his fellow researchers who repeatedly testify that there is no link between cigarettes and disease.

Via Education Week: “Back-to-School Spending Dips, Even as Consumer Confidence Rises.” Edsurge, however, reports that spending on ed-tech will grow.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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