Education Politics

No Child Left Behind just might be left behind. Via The New York Times: “Negotiators Come to Agreement on Revising No Child Left Behind Law.” Via Education Week: “House, Senate ESEA Compromise Sails Through Conference Committee.”

The Department of Education announced the results of an investigation that founds even more students were ripped off by Corinthian College than initially thought. The DoE’s announcement. More via NPR and Inside Higher Ed.

Via The New York Times: “The Department of Education announced Tuesday that it would expand its program to forgive federal student loan debt to thousands more students who attended programs of Corinthian Colleges, once one of the nation’s largest for-profit education companies.”

“Texas rejects letting academics vet public school textbooks,” the AP reports.

“Can California AG’s new bureau clean up for-profit virtual schools?” asks Education Dive. “A K12 Inc subpoena revealed in an SEC filing reveals wider investigation of virtual charters.”

“The Competency-Based Education Experiment Expanded to Include More Flexibility for Colleges and Students,” says the US Department of Education. That flexibility allows for “subscription delivery models.” Question: if you cancel the subscription, do you get to keep your competencies?

From the presidential campaign trail: “Clinton says ‘no evidence’ that teachers can be judged by student test scores.”

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “The nation’s second-largest for-profit college operator, Education Management Corporation, is expected to agree to pay nearly $90 million to settle a case accusing it of compensating employees based on how many students they enrolled, encouraging hyperaggressive boiler room tactics to increase revenue.” But as Goldie Blumenstyk observes, “Little for Students in ‘Historic’ Settlement of Education Management Case.” However, it will forgive about 80,000 students’ loans.

Via The News Tribune: “The Washington State Supreme Court announced Thursday that it will not reconsider its September decision declaring the state’s voter-approved law establishing charter schools was unconstitutional. The high court had been asked to reconsider its decision by several parties, including the state charter school association, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a bipartisan group of 10 legislators and four former state attorneys general.”

Via The San Jose Mercury News: “A 17-year-old Lincoln High School student has been criminally cited after he hosted an Instagram account that featured nude photos of underage girls, authorities say, including some from Lincoln.”

Prosecutors Weigh Teenage Sexting: Folly or Felony?

Testing, Testing…

The Pacific Standard reviews the new GED: “Making the Case for a Good-Enough Diploma. Common Core and big business have combined to make the lot of the upwardly mobile high school dropout even more dire.” (“Could Your Pass the New GED Test?”)

Massachusetts will develop its own Common Core assessments, dropping its plans to use PARCC’s.

Education Week asks, “How Is the Big Year for Common-Core Tests Shaking Out?”


Udacity and Google announced a co-developed nanodegree in “senior Web development.”

“edX and Microsoft Collaborate to Help K–12 School Leaders Improve Education,” says edX.

“Has edX become a platform for a Chinese propaganda course?” Inside Higher Ed asks.

Reflections on the Paris attacks from Coursera CEO Rick Levin.”

From IHE blogger Joshua Kim: “5 Ways That Campus MOOC Initiatives Impact Local Residential Learning.”

The arts-oriented MOOC platform Kadenze has launched an LMS called Kannu. Sigh.

Meanwhile on Campus

Protests continue on campuses

Via Corey Robin: “Black Alumni at Yale Weigh In With Major List of Demands.” “Responding to student demonstrations and demands related to the racial climate at Yale University, its president, Peter Salovey, introduced a host of initiatives and promises in a letter to alumni on Tuesday,” The New York Times reports. (The letter.)

Princeton Students Hold Sit-In on Racial Injustice.”

“Journalists Closed out of Smith College ‘Sit-In,’ Should We Be Troubled?” asks Angus Johnston.

Amherst faculty unanimously agreed to get rid of the school’s unofficial mascot Lord Jeff – “tarnished by his dealings with Native Americans more than 200 years ago” – in a non-binding vote.

Via The Atlantic: “Black Tape Over Black Faculty Portraits at Harvard Law School.” Via The WaPo: “Harvard Evacuates 4 Buildings After Bomb Threat.”

Howard University Increases Security After Students Receive Death Threats.”

The Seattle school board has okay’d a proposal for high schools to start at 8:45am, giving students some additional minutes of sleep each day (ideally at least).

“It Won’t Be Long Now Until Every School Has Internet Access,” Wired trumpets. According to EducationSuperHighway, the schools which meet the FCC’s minimum requirements for Internet speed has jumped from 30% to 77% since 2013. (Mark Zuckerberg also announced this week he’s giving EducationSuperHighway $20 million. While headlines read that the money will help schools get faster Internet, it will actually go towards more staff and consultants for EducationSuperHighway.) Education Week has a good series of stories on how schools are charged outrageous fees for lousy Internet service.

Washington College will remain closed until after Thanksgiving weekend as police have been unable to locate a student who brandished a gun on campus.

“Westwood College, a for-profit chain with 14 campus locations, last week announced on its website that it has stopped enrolling new students,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via NPR: “U.S. Colleges See A Big Bump In International Students.”

“The University of Montana on Tuesday announced plans to cut 201 full-time positions – 52 of them faculty slots – to deal with enrollment declines,” says Inside Higher Ed.

The Silicon Valley Suicides” by Hanna Rosin.


From the California Community College Board of Governors: a call to establish a new model to accredit the systems’ 113 colleges. “The board approved a resolution citing the need to raise the professionalism of accreditation in California, stating that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) has lost credibility with its peers and no longer meets the current and anticipated needs of California community colleges.”

“A College Watchdog Finally Barked, So The Colleges Got A New Dog,” Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy writes.

Go, School Sports Team!

The $10-Billion Sports Tab.”

The University of Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel has announced his resignation so he can focus on his fight with cancer.

From the HR Department

“Teachers at California’s largest online charter school unionize,” The Santa Barbara Sun reports. (That is, the California Virtual Academies.)

Via The Chicago Sun-Times: “Chicago taxpayers paid almost $900,000 for three and a half years’ work by disgraced former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. And though she’s a felon since pleading guilty in a contract rigging scheme at CPS, she still stands to cost taxpayers in districts that employed her more than $140,000 in annual public pensions.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

“Months after being acquired by Follett, campus store operator Neebo is still sending students to collection agencies over textbooks the students say they have already returned,” IHE’s Carl Straumsheim reports.

Meanwhile… “Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute (ELI) and open courseware provider Lumen Learning announced a collaboration to publish 24 online college courses for two complete degree programs. All courses were developed for zero student cost using open educational resources (OER) (i.e., no textbooks, just public access Internet).”

“The War on Campus Sexual Assault Goes Digital,” says NYT’s Natasha Singer in a profile of an online service called Callisto that lets students anonymously record details of sexual assaults and then decide on whether or not to later report them.

Via The Washington Post: “FBI Online Game Combating Youth Extremism Draws Ire of Muslim Groups.”

The word of the year is an emoji, FFS.

Investments and IPOs

Match Group raised $400 million in its IPO. Match Group, a unit of billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC owns, OK Cupid, Tinder… and and the Princeton Review.

LMS Instructure raised $70 million in its IPO. MindWire Consulting’s Phil Hill interviews CEO Josh Coates.

Via Vox: “David Geffen’s $100 million gift to UCLA is philanthropy at its absolute worst.”

Earnest has raised $275 million in funding from New York Life Investment Management and Battery Ventures. The company has raised $299.1 million total. This makes Earnest the ed-tech company that has raised the second most amount of funding this year. The most: SoFi, which has raised $1.2 billion in 2015. Both of these companies offer private student loans, which is truly a fascinating indication of how venture capitalists predict the push for MOOCs and coding bootcamps and other post-secondary education/tech opportunities will be funded – on the backs of students carrying loan debt. Disruptive!

TutorGroup has raised “about” $200 million in funding from GIC, the Russia-China Investment Fund, Goldman Sachs, and Silverlink Capital LP. It’s a unicorn now, Edsurge notes, with a valuation of over $1 billion. The company, which offers online tutoring, has raised $315 million.

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest some $34 million in cooperative initiatives designed to improve teacher-preparation programs’ overall effectiveness,” Education Week reports.

PresenceLearning has raised $25 million from Catalyst Investors, Birchmere Ventures, Blue Heron Capital, Catamount Ventures, and New Markets Venture Partners. The company which offers online speech and occupational therapy, has raised $33 million total.

Lingvist has raised $8 million from Rakuten, Smart Cap, Jaan Tallinn, and Geoff Prentice. The company, which says it can teach you a foreign language in 200 hours, has raised $9.47 million total.

Student loan management company has raised $5 million from MassMutual Ventures LLC, Wildcat Venture Partners, and Mohr Davidow Ventures. The company has raised $8.15 million total.

VersaMe has raised $2.5 million from Learn Capital and Stanford-StartX for its wearable device (price-tag: $149) that you pin to your toddler to count how many words they hear. Certainly in the running for worst ed-tech idea of 2015.

BridgeU has raised $2.5 million from Octopus Investments, Fresco Capital, and Seedcamp. The company, which boasts that it has built “the first truly adaptive university preparation & application platform for students,” has raised $2.9 million total.

“Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) and Aavishkaar have announced a $2.3 million Series A round of investments in Karadi Path, which makes immersive English language curriculum and multimedia materials,” Edsurge reports.

WriteLab, “a browser-based tool that provides feedback on writing,” has raised $2 million in seed funding from Reach Capital, Kapor Capital, and Learn Capital.

Job placement company iStar has raised $1.51 million from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

Authess has raised $675,000 from “US investors and Manipal Global Education,” says BetaBoston. “The company makes mobile and online assessment systems that better reflect a person’s abilities, instead of his or her ability to memorize information for a multiple-choice test, according to its website.”

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via Politico: “The Education Department is doing a poor job on everything from responding to cyber attacks to updating its software and hardware, but it’s especially bad at monitoring its computer networks for threats, according to an annual inspector general audit.”

Carnegie Mellon Universities denies taking money from the FBI to infiltrate the TOR network.

“California school bus service eyes biometric technology for pupils,” says CS Monitor. “A transportation service that serves four districts in California is testing iris scanners to ensure students aren’t accidentally left on a bus, but the trial raises privacy concerns for some experts.”

Data and “Research”

A report from Australia’s National Assessment Programme says that tablets are “eroding” children’s digital skills.

According to data from the US Department of Education’s Quarterly Student Aid Report, “Two-Thirds of Freshmen FAFSA Applicants List Only One College on Their Applications.”

“There’s No Substitute for In-Person Lectures,” says Pacific Standard. “A study released last week finds that students who watched a videotaped lecture recalled less of the material, and felt less engaged in the subject, than they did after sitting through a similar live lesson.”

Hufflin Muffin (or the craziness of textbook data).”

“Research” from Knewton on the effectiveness of its platform.

A report from Common Sense Media (via Education Week): “Media Usage Highest Among Poor, Minority Youth.”

According to a study by Digital Promise (also via Education Week): “Little Consistency in How Districts Judge Ed-Tech Through Pilot Tests.”

A survey from Gallup and Google on computer science. Among the findings: “Observations from students and parents suggest that TV and film media portrayals, as well as personal perceptions among students, parents and educators, often reflect stereotypes about people who engage in computer science; this has the potential to limit participation among certain student groups.”

According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, “Fewer students are earning a college credential within six years of first enrolling in college” – down 2.1% from the previous year’s cohort.

Moody’s Investor Service projects blah blah blah.

US student loan debt has officially surpassed $1.2 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Again, congrats venture capitalists for getting in on this important education trend.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

Back to Archives