Education Politics

Obama Wants Students To Stop Taking Unnecessary Tests.” Here’s the official “Testing Action Plan,” that includes some details on how tests will be limited to just 2% of classroom time. (Is that actually less than what tests take now?) Via Vox: “Obama’s flip-flop on standardized tests, explained.” Via the International Business Times: “How Obama’s Push For Fewer Assessments Could Affect Education Companies.” And one, lonely crocodile tear falls down my cheek.

Via Al Jazeera: “Koch brothers pour millions into education to promote libertarian ideals.”

California has become the first state to ban schools from using “Redskins” as a team name or mascot.

The University of Colorado Hosted the Third GOP Presidential Debate, but Almost No Students Were Allowed In.”

Elsewhere on the campaign trail: Jeb Bush, who has a degree in Latin American studies, mocked those who major in the liberal areas, particular psychology.

Via Vox: “Sanders and Clinton want the federal government to fund public college. Colleges aren’t so sure.” Some clarification: by “colleges,” the story actually means “10 university presidents, eight from large public universities.” For what it’s worth, these aren’t the institutions that educate most Americans. That would be community colleges. Let’s ask them instead of relying on the prestige market to protect its prestige.

Senator Marco Rubio (who like most Republicans is running for President) has reintroduced the “Investing in Student Success Act,” which would allow students to fund their college education through private loans to be repaid through income sharing agreements.

The US Department of Education has proposed “a new regulation that would require any new intellectual property developed with grant funds from the department to be openly licensed,” says Education Week.

The Department of Education also finalized its new rules surrounding campus debit cards.

NY “Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch won’t seek another term,” says the Times Union.

Education in the Courts

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A federal judge has ruled that the defunct Corinthian Colleges is liable for roughly $530 million in damages to former students, concluding a lawsuit brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a year ago. According to the judge’s order, Corinthian deceived students by misrepresenting their career prospects, among other things.” More on the story from Inside Higher Ed.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has filed a lawsuit against Global Financial Support, which runs the Student Financial Resource Center and College Financial Advisory, accusing it of predatory behavior.

Testing, Testing…

It was NAEP week, sorta like Shark Week but for scary test score results. Doom! Panic! Handwringing)! Speculation! (And a reasonable response from USC’s Morgan Polikoff.)

“These are the states that really have the best schools in the US,” Vox suggests – that is if you look at test scores and adjust for student demographics.

Students Take Too Many Redundant Tests, Study Finds.” (See the Education Politics section above for the Obama Administration’s announcement about “too many tests.”)

Via The New York Times: “Superintendents in Florida Say Tests Failed State’s Schools, Not Vice Versa.”

Echoing what’s happening with scores from the ACTs, “Some SAT Score Reports Are Delayed,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Via EdSource: “The California Department of Education is recommending that the state dock the Educational Testing Service, the company administering the state’s standardized testing program, $3.1 million for delivering the scores and reports on the new Smarter Balanced tests late.”

Via The Atlantic: “How the Common Core Is Transforming the SAT.”

NYC will make the SAT free for public school juniors.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The College of Idaho and Salem State University are both dropping requirements that all applicants submit SAT or ACT scores.”


Via Inside Higher Ed: “The average instructor of a massive open online course is most likely to be a white man in his 50s with two decades of experience in academe but none in online education, according to a study by researchers at Indiana University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.” LOL. So disruptive.

“Can data help save MOOCs?” asks The Stanford Daily.

Now that the MOOCs and their certificates are no longer free: “Coursera’s Financial Aid: What it is and who is benefiting,” via the Coursera blog.

NPR profiles the University of the People: “The Online College That’s Helping Undocumented Students.”

Inside Higher Ed reports that Kadenze, an online platform that offers “creative arts” classes, will offer for-credit courses. Its partners include California Institute of the Arts and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Meanwhile on Campus

Using her cellphone, a student at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina videotaped a school resource officer violently throwing a fellow student, a young black woman to the ground, purportedly because she refused to comply quickly enough to her teacher’s demand she put her phone away. Both students were arrested. The video – horrific – went viral. Ben Fields, the sheriffy’s deputy, was subsequently fired. More, via The Atlantic, on “Race and Discipline in South Carolina Schools.”

Teen ‘faces assault charge’ for throwing baby carrot at teacher.”

SNHU and the Flat Iron School, a coding bootcamp, have partnered, one of the first partnerships as part of the Department of Education’s new plan to allow bootcamps’ students to receive federal financial aid.

Via The Atlantic: “The Law-School Scam Continues.” (More, via The NYT, on a study that has discovered schools are admitting students who are unlikely to ever pass the bar.)

Investigations into the charter school chain Success Academy and its discipline policies continue, this week with a story in The New York Times: “At a Success Academy Charter School, Singling Out Pupils Who Have ‘Got to Go’.”

“Black Colleges Might Be Struggling, but Their Alums Are Thriving,” according to The Atlantic. (Not “thriving” economically, one should note. This is based on a subjective rating of one’s well-being.)

Albany State University, a HBCU, plans to “deactivate” 15 of its programs, says Inside Higher Ed.

The Harvard Law Library is digitizing some 40 million pages of its collection, with the intention of making “a complete, searchable database of American case law that will be offered free on the Internet, allowing instant retrieval of vital records that usually must be paid for.”

Can a Professor Be Forced to Assign a $180 Textbook?” More on the controversy in the math department at Cal State Fullerton in The LA Times.

“The American Museum of Natural History now offers a master of arts in teaching and a Ph.D. in comparative biology,” according to The New York Times, in an article in the Art & Design section titled “Museums, Always Educational, Now Confer Degrees.”

Via The New York Times: “Cardiff University Rejects Bid to Bar Germaine Greer.”

The University of California system has extended its open access policy to all scholarly articles written by university employees.

Pretty jealous of the 20,000 New York high school students who, thanks to funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, will get free tickets to see Hamilton.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Southern Mississippi has become the second university in the state, following the University of Mississippi, to stop flying the state flag.”

“Stratford University, a for-profit institution based in Virginia, this week announced that it has become a public benefit corporation,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Wired: “The Tech Elite’s Quest to Reinvent School in Its Own Image.” That is, by building private schools. The story’s about Khan Academy’s new private school, which is sorta like Dewey meets YouTube meets the Panopticon.

Unlike AltSchool, Khan Academy, or Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s new private school, Oracle says it will build a high school next to its Silicon Valley headquarters. This one, however, will be a public school and thankfully will not be called Larry Ellison High.

4 people were killed and 47 injured when a drunk driver plowed into a spectators watching the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade.

Via the AP: “Two male students in [Fredricksburg] Virginia have been arrested and accused of plotting an attack at their high school, law enforcement officials said Saturday.”

College Students Find Audio Time Capsule, Can’t Find Tape Player.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via SB Nation: “The State v. Robertson: How Four Football Players Beat the Rap and Changed Free Speech in Oregon”

Andre McGee, an assistant basketball coach at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, has resigned from his position following the ongoing scandal at the University of Louisville (where McGee was a graduate assistant) involving supplying nude dancers for potential basketball team recruits.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last week released new guidelines for how coaches, counselors and faculty members should and should not communicate about the academic work of athletes.” This follows a huge cheating scandal where the university helped thousands of students take “paper classes,” often to aid them in easily maintaining athletic eligibility.

From the HR Department

The Gates Foundation’s Vicky Phillips is leaving the organization, Edsurge reports.

Margaret Spellings, former secretary of education, is now the president of the University of North Carolina system. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Questions Linger Over How UNC Chose Spellings.” And via Inside Higher Ed: “John Fennebresque, whose tenure as chairman of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors was marked by unhappiness over his brusque and secretive style and capped by the controversial selection of Margaret Spellings as the system’s president, resigned Monday.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

SXSW cancelled two panels this week for its big “Interactive” event. One panel dealt with design decisions to address harassment in gaming. (Another was ostensibly going to address “ethics in games journalism,” which is a dog-whistle for harassing women in gaming.) Caroline Sinders writing for Slate: “I Was on One of Those Canceled SXSW Panels. Here is what went down.” Facing several news organizations threatening to back out of the event, SXSW has now agreed to run a day-long event addressing online harassment... that includes the *cough* "ethics in journalism" panel. Boy, I'd sure love to see educators boycott SXSWedu... but who the hell am I kidding.

Via The Guardian: “Artist Ai Weiwei banned from using Lego to build Australian artwork.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, “Alphabet’s Google to Fold Chrome Operating System Into Android.” Enjoy those Chromebooks while they last/work/automatically-update/aren’t full of malware, schools!

Venture capitalists continue to demonstrate that they have no understanding of how school works. Take Mark Cuban, for example. He’s cited in Education Week promoting Snapchat and other “disappearing message apps,” (particularly one in his investment portfolio, CyberDust). “Hopefully, more school officials will use Cyber Dust,” Cuban said. “It will allow them to have private conversations where they can be honest and productive rather than writing every message … to protect themselves.” Uhhhhhhh.

#ProQuestGate: ProQuest announced this week that it had cancelled the subscription to the Early English Books Online database for Renaissance Society of America members. It later reversed its decision, but damn, scholars forget this moment at their peril.

Via Edsurge: “How Teachers Can Run Classrooms Like ”Lean Startups’." Because teaching and learning is just like a high growth, high risk tech company building mobile apps.

Elsewhere in ed-tech-as-ideology (also from Edsurge): “Do Wealthy Communities Breed the Best Education Innovations?”

“Artificially intelligent software is replacing the textbook – and reshaping American education,” Slate contends.

This is the sort of partnership that always prompts me to say: we do a lousy job interrogating TOS and privacy policies in ed-tech. Via Campus Technology: “Civitas Learning Taps into Echo360 Student Data.” “‘Combining historic and student profile data with real-time classroom activity, gives institutions more actionable insights to help each individual student on their path to success,’ said Fred Singer, CEO of Echo360, in a prepared statement.”

World’s First School to Issue Academic Certificates via Bitcoin Blockchain.”

Funding and Acquisitions

Coursera has finalized its Series C round of investment, bringing the total raised this time around to $61.1 million. Coursera has raised $146.1 million total.

Outlearn has raised $2 million from General Catalyst Partners and former Akamai CEO Paul Sagan. The PD-for-software-engineers startup has raised $4 million total.

Tutoring startup MyTutorWeb has raised $1.25 million in seed funding.

Cengage Learning has acquired e-portfolio company Pathbrite.

“Macmillan will be combining its two divisions -- Higher Education and New Ventures -- into a single unit starting January 1, 2016,” says Edsurge.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, with help from Edsurge, has created a list of “The 10 Ed-Tech Companies That Are Raising the Most Money.” I don’t understand why 2U is on it, however, since the company IPOd (and another entry, Instructure, has just filed for IPO). Missing from the list: Social Finance, a private loan provider, which has raised $1.3 billion.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

From the ACLU of Massachusetts, a report on student data and privacy in K–12.

Via Pacific Standard: “When Students Become Patients, Privacy Suffers.” Related to privacy and health records: “‘I Don’t Blame the University for a Rape. I Blame Them for How They Responded to It.’

What will happen to ed-tech in Europe now that the EU has ruled that “Safe Harbour” protections for data are insufficient? According to the BBC, there have already been talk of schools pulling out of Dropbox.

Data and “Research”

The results of the latest Campus Computing Project survey are out. Inside Higher Ed and Edsurge offer their takes.

The latest from Pew Research: “Technology Device Ownership: 2015.” (Notable: a sizable decline in e-reader ownership.)

According to a study by CREDO, cyber charter schools have an “overwhelmingly negative impact.” More via Education Week and Buzzfeed.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students who took out student loans and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2014 had an average debt load of $28,950, up 2 percent from the year before and 56 percent more than their peers from 10 years earlier, the Institute for College Access and Success says in a report released today.”

According to a report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, “70 to 80 percent of college students are active in the U.S. labor market.”

Via Education Week: “USDA Sees 20 Percent Increase in Schools Offering Free Meals to All Students.”

“Coding bootcamp grads boost their salaries by 40% on average,” the Quartz headline reads. But that boost is quite different based on demographics.

From the MAA National Study of College Calculus: “The picture that emerges of the young people who enroll in Calculus 1 in U.S. colleges and universities is of students who are, for the most part, privileged, talented, and very confident. One of the clearest conclusions to come out of our study was how effective this course is in destroying that confidence.”

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

Back to Archives