Education Politics

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that he will step down in December. (President Obama will reportedly nominate John King as his replacement.)

Earlier in the week, Duncan proposed a “prison-to-school pipeline,” reducing the number of people incarcerated for non-violent crimes and using the money saved for pay raises for teachers in high poverty schools.

The Department of Education will give $157 million to create new charter schools, “despite criticisms by its inspector general in the past that the agency has done a poor job of overseeing federal dollars sent to charter schools.” (Meanwhile, “Why Don’t Suburbanites Want Charter Schools?”)

Will the rewrite of No Child Left Behind get derailed now that John Boehner has announced his resignation?

The Department of Education extended a NCLB waiver to LAUSD.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Congress Lets Perkins Loan Program Lapse.”

Via Education Week: “Wyoming could become one of the first states to institute broad protections for students unwilling to give school officials access to their social media accounts. The proposal, which made its way through the state Task Force on Digital Information Privacy, now sits before the state’s joint education committee.”

The surprising things Seattle teachers won for students by striking”: a guarantee of a daily, 30 minute recess for all elementary school students.

Education in the Courts

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday upheld a lower court’s opinion that National Collegiate Athletic Association rules to limit what college athletes can be paid violate antitrust laws. But the appeals court also tossed out a federal judge's requirement that the NCAA allow athletes to receive deferred compensation of up to $5,000 per year.” More on the decision via The Chronicle of Higher Education and The New York Times.

A federal judge has ruled that “students who experience traumatic events while growing up in poor, turbulent neighborhoods could be considered disabled,” NPR reports. The ruling comes as part of a class action lawsuit against the Compton School District. (The judge also denied the plaintiffs’ request for class action status.)

“Seattle will take several steps to make the ed-tech used in its schools accessible to blind students, faculty, and parents, in the settlement of a lawsuit brought against the district by Noel Nightingale and her co-plaintiff, the National Federation of the Blind,” reports Education Week. A statement from the National Federation:

This landmark agreement with the Seattle Public Schools should serve as a model for the nation and should put school districts on notice that we can no longer wait to have equal education for blind students and to have access to information, use of school services, and full participation in school activities by blind faculty, personnel, and parents

Via the Southern Poverty Law Center: “A federal judge in Alabama has found that the Birmingham Police Department violated the constitutional rights of students in public schools by using pepper spray to deal with minor discipline problems and by failing to ensure that children were decontaminated afterward.”

The Kansas Court of Appeals reversed the expulsion of Navid Yeasin, a University of Kansas student expelled for tweets he made about his ex-girlfriend.

Via The Oregonian: “A federal jury awarded a former University of Oregon public safety officer $755,000 Friday after finding that UO Police Chief Carolyn McDermed and a top lieutenant retaliated against the young officer for blowing the whistle on department wrongdoing.” (For those unfamiliar with this case, this involves the campus police department’s “extensive ‘eat a bowl of dicks’ list." Go Ducks.

A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit – Bain v California Teachers Association – a lawsuit backed by the ed reform group StudentsFirst, that would have hindered teachers’ unions from raising money for political activities.


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Year After Starbucks Offered Tuition Discounts at Arizona State, Who's Enrolling?” Spoiler alert: about 3700 employees, far fewer than the enrollment projects of 15,000.

How to Take a Class From Serena Williams and Usher.”

Meanwhile on Campus

A shooter killed 10 people and injured 7 more at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. “Mass shootings since Sandy Hook, in one map.”

The LA Times’ Joy Resmovits looks at the student loan default rates at Umpqua CC, some of the highest in the country, noting that “The grief on the campus in light of Thursday’s violence puts added pressure on a college where resources are slim and the kind of counseling available to students in wealthier schools is harder to come by.”

The Rise of Law Enforcement on College Campuses.”

Admissions Revolution,” reads the Inside Higher Ed headline. The change involves a push, by some 80 colleges and universities, for a portfolio platform for high schoolers to begin to showcase their work. It also marks a move away from the Common Application.

Lots of publications wrote about the London Acorn School this week. The school bans media and technology – at school and at home. The Guardian. Quartz. The Telegraph. No technology but great marketing, I guess.

Via KPCC: “LAUSD board to vote on $6.4 million settlement proposal with Apple over iPad software.” Meanwhile, “LAUSD hunting down the last 500 missing computer devices.”

Brown University has rescinded the honorary degree it gave Bill Cosby.

Go, School Sports Team!

The NCAA has suspended Southern Methodist University’s men’s basketball coach for nine games and banned the team from postseason play.

Via The New York Times: “As Worries Rise and Players Flee, a Missouri School Board Cuts Football.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

The end of an era: OCLC has printed its last library catalog card.

The 2015 MacArthur Fellows.

Via Fortune: “Here’s why MakerBot is putting 3D printers in schools.”

Google Virtual-Reality System Aims to Enliven Education,” says The New York Times. Educational videos, but on your face. Pretty enlivening, man.

Remember Your Old Graphing Calculator? It Still Costs a Fortune – Here’s Why.”

Via Techcrunch’s Sarah Perez: “YouTube Addresses Complaints About Inappropriate Content In Updated YouTube Kids App.”

Via Education Week: “Teach to One, Ed Tech Instruction Model, Grows to 28 Schools Nationwide.”

Newegg is entering the textbook market, says The Digital Reader. (Wow, Newegg is still around?!)

Funding and Acquisitions

News Corp has sold its education division Amplify to Amplify’s management team including Joel Klein. Terms of the deal were not disclosed (but I bet it was less than the $360 million that News Corp spent to buy Wireless Generation back in 2010). Earlier in the week Amplify fired about 40% of its staff.

A record-setting round of funding for Social Finance: $1 billion. The company specializes in refinancing student loans and was already the largest investment in ed-tech of the year, having raised $200 million in January. This round was led by Soft Bank and brings the total raised by SoFi to $1.77 billion.

General Assembly has raised $70 million from Advance Publications, Wellington Capital Management LLP, IVP, Learn Capital, Maveron, Rethink Education, WTI, and others. The startup, which offers on- and offline courses in tech and entrepreneurship, has raised $119.5 million total.

Civitas Learning has raised $60 million from Warburg Pincus. The data analytics company has raised $89.95 million total.

Math software maker Origo has raised $11.2 million from Blue Sky Funds.

Credible, another student loan refinancing company, has raised $10 million from Soul Htite, Ron Suber, and Scott Langmack. The startup has raised $12.7 million total.

ZeeMee has raised $5.8 million from Blue Run Ventures. The startup offers a “social media college application platform” and has raised $6.8 million total.

Skilljar has raised $2.6 million from Trilogy Equity Partners. The corporate LMS provider has raised $4.92 million total.

Online tutoring company Savvy has raised $1.7 million in seed funding from Partech Ventures, LearnCapital, Fresco Capital, and Metatron Worldwide.

Coding school Hack Reactor has reorganized – its new name for its umbrella company, Hack Reactor Core – and has acquired iOS bootcamp Mobile Makers Academy.

Principled Technologies has acquired Weejee Learning.

College Raptor and PowerSchool have merged.

Investment analysis from CB Insights (“Seed-Stage Ed Tech Startups Are Moving More Slowly To Their Series A Rounds”) and from Matt Candler (“The 3 stages of education investing we’re ignoring”).

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via Education Week: “Microsoft’s Windows 10 Scrutinized for Privacy Controls.”

Via ComputerWorld: “Lenovo collects usage data on ThinkPad, ThinkCentre and ThinkStation PCs.”

Another cyberattack cripples Rutgers networks.”

Data and “Research”

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

“Closure rates of small colleges and universities will triple in the coming years, and mergers will double,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Those are the predictions of a Moody’s Investor Service report released Friday that highlights a persistent inability among small colleges to increase revenue, which could lead as many as 15 institutions a year to shut their doors for good by 2017.”

The latest from the Pew Research Center: “Teens, Technology and Romantic Relationships.”

The student loan default rate has dropped to 11.8%. (The default rate for those who take out loans for community college is at 20.6%.)

Via Ars Technica: “Study: Racially charged hate crimes go up as broadband expands.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Just half of college alumni ‘strongly agree’ that their education was worth what they paid for it, according to the newest data from an ongoing Gallup-Purdue University study of college graduates.”

Via NPR: “Admitting Dropouts Were Miscounted, Chicago Lowers Graduation Rates.” I’m sure now that Arne Duncan is heading back to Chicago, things’ll be grrrrrreat.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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