Education Politics

“Every few weeks, it seems, a new investigation is launched into one of the larger for-profit colleges in the country,” Inside Higher Ed reports. And yet… And yet: the US Department of Education just announced it will allow federal financial aid to be used for “alternative education providers,” including MOOCs and coding bootcamps. Although the Obama Administration has cracked down on for-profit universities, it seems more than happy to fund a new revenue stream for for-profits: the outsourcing of instruction to tech startups. Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary of Education and former venture capitalist at New School Venture Fund, announced the pilot program. More via Edsurge. Meanwhile, as The New York Times observes, “For-Profit Colleges Accused of Fraud Still Receive U.S. Funds.”

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking information from a national accreditor about the for-profit colleges it oversees, which include several controversial chains,” writes Inside Higher Ed. “The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools received the civil investigative demand from the CFPB in August. It is unclear whether the council, which is the largest national accreditor, is the target of an investigation, or whether the request is linked to another probe.”

The US Department of Education announced it will publish data on chronic absenteeism in schools, according to Edsurge, “in hopes of giving them the insights (and the public shaming) to do something about it.”

The Democratic presidential candidates held their first debate. Bryan Alexander has the run-down on what they said about education.

Via Michigan Live: “The governor’s office confirmed Thursday that the FBI is investigating the 15-school, state-run education reform district in Detroit, noting that it was an internal review that led to the probe.”

California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that abolishes the state’s high school exit exam and will award diplomas to thousands who failed the exam as far back as 2004 but had completed all their high school classes.

Before he left office last month, Australia’s education minister Christopher Pyne approved a new curriculum that made the teaching of programming central. No longer will students be required to learn history or geography.

Education in the Courts

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former head of Chicago Public Schools pled guilty for “her role in a scheme to steer $23 million in no-bid contracts to education firms for $2.3 million in bribes and kickbacks.” She will serve 7.5 years in jail. More of the contracts she approved during her tenure are now under scrutiny.

Via the LA School Report: “Following up on a months-long threat, high-profile attorney Mark Geragos today slapped LA Unified with a class action lawsuit, calling for an end to the practice of ‘teacher jails’ and asking for more than $1 billion in damages. The suit was filed in state superior court on behalf of Rafe Esquith, a well-known teacher….” (More on Esquith below.)

Via The Atlantic: “How California’s Largest School District Blamed an 8th Grader for Her Rape.”

Pearson has reached a settlement with LAUSD to the tune of $6.45 million – a reimbursement for the flawed vaporware curriculum that was to come pre-installed on iPads.

Via Reuters: “Apple Inc. could be facing up to $862 million in damages after a U.S. jury on Tuesday found the company used technology owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s licensing arm without permission in chips found in many of its iPhones and iPads.”

Former speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has pled guilty “in a case in which he is accused of skirting banking laws and lying to the federal investigators,” says The New York Times. The case involves hush money paid by Hastert over allegations of sexual misconduct with a male student with Hastert was a high school teacher in Illinois.


Via Inside Higher Ed: colleges explain why they “double-dipped” with MOOC providers.

Via the Coursera blog: “Will all courses now have start dates and deadlines? No and yes.”

Meanwhile on Campus

School shootings at Northern Arizona University, Texas Southern University, and Tennessee State University. (Roger Schank’s response: “Stop school shootings. Get rid of school.” University of Baltimore professor Jeffrey Ian Ross’s response: more campus security systems.)

A black bear roamed the halls of Bozeman High School in Montana.

“Fraternities Hire Trent Lott To Lobby For Limiting Campus Sexual Assault Investigations,” says The Huffington Post.

The New York Times examines new sex ed classes in California: “With Gov. Jerry Brown's signature on a bill this month, California became the first state to require that all high school health education classes give lessons on affirmative consent.”

Go, School Sports Team!

“UCLA football player is suspended indefinitely following arrest in rape case,” according to The LA Times.

Via the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “University of Minnesota football players accused of sexual assault, harassment and retaliation.”

Via NPR: “University of Louisville is investigating claims that a former staffer hired escorts to have sex with basketball players and recruits.”

USC has fired its head football coach, Steve Sarkisian, after he appeared to be intoxicated at a game.

An LSU football player will auction his jersey and donate the proceeds to charity, despite NCAA rules that prohibit players from making money doing this type of thing. “That the NCAA will allow Fournette's auction means that college officials have either long interpreted those rules incorrectly, that the NCAA is making an exception for the running back or that the association is beginning to soften its rules,” Inside Higher Ed notes.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Oregon’s new ‘pioneer-themed’ athletics uniforms celebrate a ‘history of genocidal violence, ethnic cleansing and exclusion of nonwhites,’ a coalition of Native faculty, staff and students said in an open letter this week. The uniforms, unveiled by Nike earlier this month, are inspired by the travels of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and feature the explorers and a map of the Oregon Trail.”

From the HR Department

Award-winning LAUSD teacher Rafe Esquith has been fired by the district’s board, “following a misconduct investigation that included allegations he made an improper joke to students and inappropriately touched minors.”

UC Berkeley astronomy professor Geoff Marcy has resigned following a Buzzfeed story about a university investigation into Marcy’s repeated sexual harassment of female students. The university has been criticized for its response as “a number of astronomers across academe asked why the university hadn’t been tougher on him.”

UC Berkeley math lecturer Alexander Coward will not have his contract renewed. Coward, a popular and apparently quite effective instructor, wrote about the school’s decision on his blog. More via Inside Higher Ed.

Brice Harris, the chancellor of the California Community College system, announced his retirement.

Academic Freedom Fail” is the headline on the controversies at UBC surrounding the resignation of its president.

Upgrades and Downgrades

“Disney Fulfills All Your Childhood Dreams with Augmented Reality Coloring Books,” says Edsurge. (I think we had very very different childhood dreams, for what it’s worth.)

Yes, I did say that Knewton is ‘selling snake oil’,” says Michael Feldstein.

According to Education Week, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has created a database “with details about how each state, Guam, and the Mariana Islands approaches the procurement of digital education resources.”


Instructure has filed for an IPO.

Data and “Research”

A forthcoming paper in the Journal of Academic Ethics – “BB&T, Atlas Shrugged and the Ethics of Corporation Influence on College Curricula” – on the influence of the holding company BB&T which demands schools teach the works of Ayn Rand.

“Would assigned seating during exams curb cheating?” is the Education Dive headline about an algorithm that purports to identify potential cheaters.

Via the Shanker Institute: “The Role Of Teacher Diversity In Reducing Implicit Bias.”

“More than half of the world’s countries have failed to achieve gender parity in education for girls in primary and secondary schools,” according to UNESCO.

Why Do Rich Kids Do Better Than Poor Kids in School? It’s Not the ‘Word Gap.’

According to the US Census Bureau, women are more likely than men to have a bachelor’s degree.

Bryan Alexander examines the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll: “Americans look at education and are not too pleased.”

The 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology.

State of the US Higher Education LMS Market: 2015 Edition.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

Back to Archives