Education Politics

The Obama administration will announce today that it will offer Pell Grants to some prisoners, “the first adult inmates to be eligible for the grants since Congress barred prisoners from receiving them more than 20 years ago,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education. More via Politico.

Meanwhile, in a policy speech, Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the administration plans to focus on higher education accountability and outcomes and not costs or debt during its final 18 months.

Via Buzzfeed: “The University Of Phoenix Is Being Investigated By The FTC.” “Regulators are looking into allegations of ‘deceptive or unfair’ marketing practices at the school, which is struggling to turn its reputation around.”

A campaign in the UK is pushing for the right for young people to be able to delete and edit content they post online. According to the BBC, Baroness Shields, the Minister for Internet Safety and Security, backs the idea.

“Legislation working its way through the New Jersey Senate would require colleges to disclose the number of students who die from suicide each year,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Via The New York Times: “Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection.”

The Debate Over Free Community College.”

Education in the Courts

University of Cincinnati police officer Raymond Tensing has been indicted on a murder charge for fatally shooting Samuel Dubose two minutes into a traffic stop. Prosecutor Joe Deter, who described the shooting as “senseless, asinine,” has called for the university’s campus police force to be dismantled. Via The Atlantic: “How One Campus Cop Undid a City’s Police Reforms.” Via Vox: “Why nearly all colleges have an armed police force.”

Via The New York Times: “Three former members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia filed a lawsuit against Rolling Stone on Wednesday for defamation and infliction of emotional distress, saying the magazine’s discredited article on a campus gang rape had a ‘devastating effect’ on their reputations.”

Kaplan Career Institute and Lincoln Technical Institute will pay $2.4 million in a settlement with the state of Massachusetts over allegations that the for-profits had inflated job placement numbers.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A California judge said Friday that she was issuing a temporary injunction to restore control over a massive database of research on Alzheimer’s disease to the University of California at San Diego. UCSD sought the injunction after the scholar who has led the project announced he would move to the University of Southern California and take the research with him.”

Testing, Testing…

Caving to pressure from conservatives, the College Board is revising its AP US History curriculum in order to include more about the founding fathers, less about dead Native Americans, and to make Ronald Reagan and Manifest Destiny sound less horrible. As Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson suggested, after taking the previous new version of the AP, “I think most people, when they finish that course, they’d be ready to sign up for ISIS.”

Via The New York Times: “The principal of a popular elementary school in Harlem acknowledged that she forged answers on students’ state English exams in April because the students had not finished the tests, according to a memorandum released Monday by the New York City Education Department. On April 17, the same day that someone made a complaint about the cheating, the principal, Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, of Teachers College Community School, jumped in front of a subway train. She died on April 25.”

More colleges are dropping the requirement that applicants submit their SAT or ACT scores.


I’m guessing that Udacity is pounding the pavement, trying to drum up interest in a new round of investment. Why? Because a number of articles about the company published this week, all using the phrase “Uber for Education” – an analogy that venture capitalists understand about a company that currently boasts a very high valuation. Of course, I’d ask why the hell we’d want Uber in education – unethical practices, privacy issues, refusal to accommodate people with disabilities, a dismantling of legal and labor protections (“Mr Thrun knows what he doesn't want for his company; professors in tenure”) and of public infrastructure. But hey. You won’t find any tough questions in this MIT Technology Review or Financial Times write-up.

Facebook is publishing its course on how to manage bias in the workplace so that other tech companies can learn from it. LOL as Facebook’s workplace diversity is pathetic: “Last year, 31 percent of staffers were women. This year, it’s 32. Last year, 2 percent of its employees were black. This year, it’s exactly the same. The number of women filling tech jobs at the company slid slightly, from the already paltry 16 percent to 15 percent.”

Trump University: How Donald Trump persuaded students to pay $35,000 to become just like him.”

Meanwhile on Campus

This Woman Gets Students Accused Of Rape Back Into School – For A Price.”

The Most Popular High School Plays And Musicals.”

Academic Freedom Concerns Plague UW-Madison’s Handling of Professor’s Twitter Controversy.”

San Francisco Middle Schools No Longer Teaching ‘Algebra 1’.”

Spelman College is discontinuing The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship.

Leopard injures 3 in a school in India. (Video!)

Go, School Sports Team!

Sports-Medicine Staffs Report Pressure to Clear Concussed Athletes Prematurely.”

From the HR Department

Bryan Alexander continues to chronicle universities’ decisions to make the “queen sacrifice,” but notes that the University of Akron has “hacked around” that by cutting (161) staff not faculty positions.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Anonymous messaging app Yik Yak has introduced photos. What could possibly go wrong.

Via Education Week: “Amazon Digital Services Inc. would create a comprehensive online shopping source for e-books and digital content available for New York City schools, under a $30 million contract that is expected to be approved next month, the city’s department of education confirmed Thursday.” Teachers (well, and Amazon of course) will be able to see what their students are reading and how quickly they’re doing so. Gee, no privacy concerns here.

The venture capital fund NewSchool Venture Fund is launching NewSchools Ignite, an accelerator program to support startups “that will support entrepreneurs tackling the most pressing gaps in K–12 education technology.” The first gap: science education.

Here’s the headline from the CK–12 Foundation blog: “Announcing: CK–12’s new partnership with Google Classroom.” It’s not really a partnership, from what I can gather however. It’s a “share” button that lets you share CK–12 materials into Google Classroom.

Via the Getting Smart blog: “Global Personalized Academics, a new Orlando based education venture launched last week aiming to provide virtual classroom learning to help students across the globe transform the way they learn. The company is headed by Julie Young, a virtual learning pioneer and former Founding President and CEO at Florida Virtual School.”

‘Code Can Save Lives:’ Inside One Techie’s Mission to Bring Programming Skills to Kids in Watts.”

The Common Core Explained.

Funding and Acquisitions

According to a report from Reuters, Blackboard is going up for sale. The company, currently owned by a private equity firm, is looking for a buyer who’ll pay up to $3.4 billion. More speculation via The Chronicle of Higher Education and Mindwires Consulting's Phil Hill. Pre-sale analysis from Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

On the heels of reports that it would sell The Financial Times, it looks like Pearson is offloading The Economist too. “All the better to eat you with,” said the Wolf springing up to eat Little Red Riding Edu-Hood.

The adaptive learning startup Acrobatiq has raised $9.7 million from Draper Triangle Ventures, Hearst Ventures, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Noodle has acquired

Via Edsurge: “Village Capital has announced a $13.2 million fund that will make 100 investments in 75 companies around the globe tackling tough social problems including education.”

Also via Edsurge: “Here’s a $5M Seed Fund to Support Higher-Ed Innovations Besides MOOCs.” The fund comes from the VC firm University Ventures.

The controversial chain of charter schools Success Academy announced that it has received a gift of $8.5 million from hedge fund manager John Paulson in order to open more schools in NYC.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

The inBloom dream is back, revived by Carnegie Mellon University, thanks to $5 million in funding from the feds to build “the biggest open repository of education data” in the world, says The Hechinger Report. In charge of the project, Ken Koedinger of Carnegie Learning, “cognitive tutor” fame. Ah, the zombies of ed-tech.

FERPA dictates that students (and until they’re 18, their parents) can access their education records. According to Reason, the Goodrich Area Schools in Michigan initially billed a mom $77,718.75 when she demanded access to her son’s records.

Google Glass is coming back, says Wired, this time pitched as a workplace tool. I can’t wait to see if Google plans to market this surveillance device to schools.

Two trends you just know ed-tech will pick up on: “App Used 23andMe’s DNA Database To Block People From Sites Based On Race And Gender.” And “Using Algorithms to Determine Character.”

Tony Bates on “Privacy and the use of learning analytics.”

Data and “Research”

The Jefferson Education Accelerator will partner with Echo360 in order to “test and showcare” its tech platform. And that sort of partnership is why I put “research” here in this section in quotation marks.

Well-timed “research” from G2 Crowd, which claims to have found Blackboard topping overall satisfaction ratings for LMSes.

Here’s the latest calculations from Edsurge on ed-tech investment for the first half of this year. (Many publications are noting the boom in investment in online learning from China.)

And here’s the latest research from the API Evangelist on universities with APIs.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “How Unemployment Rates Shift Choices of Majors.”

From the Pew Research Center: “15% of Americans don't use the internet. Who are they?

A round-up from the World Bank’s Michael Trucano on various global initiatives regarding “tablets in education.”

What the New Education Buzzwords Actually Mean.”

My nominee for the worst education-related graphs of the week.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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