Education Politics

The Senate approved the renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – the Every Student Succeeds Act, which will replace No Child Left Behind. President Obama signed the bill on Thursday. Via Vox: “How schools will be different without No Child Left Behind.” Via NPR: “How Poor And Disadvantaged Students Will Fare Under The New Education Law.” Computer science is now considered part of a “well-rounded education,” according to the new law. “Will Ed-Tech Companies Prosper From ESEA Reauthorization?” asks Education Week. Spoiler alert: yes.

The new National Education Technology Plan was unveiled on Thursday. Here’s Edsurge’s coverage of the new plan and its assessment of the previous one.

A bill in Florida would allow students to substitute computer science for the foreign language graduation requirement. (A terrible idea.)

California politician wants computer science to count as math pre-req.” (Also a terrible idea.)

First Lady Michelle Obama raps that everyone should go to college.

Chris Christie Wants Fewer Rock-Climbing Walls, More iPads in Education.”

The CDC Gives U.S. Schools Low Marks In Sex Ed.”

Education in the Courts

Abigail Fisher was back at the US Supreme Court with her challenge to race-based admissions at the University of Texas. Via Vox: “Fisher v. Texas, the Supreme Court's big affirmative action case, explained.” The questions from some of the Justices were simply awful. “Chief Justice Roberts asked why diversity matters in a physics class. Here's an answer,” says Vox’s Libby Nelson. Antonin Scalia said he thought African American students should be kept out of the university and be poised towards a “less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.” He’s wrong on “mismatch.” Scientific American columnist Danielle N. Lee responded to Scalia, drawing on her own experiences in science. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce also weighed in.

“More than 100 students involved in a sexting scandal at a southern Colorado high school will not face criminal charges,” says the Fremont County DA.

Via the LA School Report: “A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction yesterday against Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, the latest development in the effort by the LA teachers union, UTLA, to unionize Alliance teachers.”

“The FCC Is Being Forced to Defend Net Neutrality in Court,” Wired reports. Observers said that the judge seemed to be okay with the new rules.

Testing, Testing…

“Are American students overtested?” asks OECD’s Andreas Schleicher, who insists they’re not. Confirmation bias in action.

“A task force Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo created is calling for changes in what New York State students learn and how they are assessed,” The New York Times reports.

From FiveThirtyEight: “How Arne Duncan Lost The Common Core And His Legacy.”

New bill would end PARCC testing in N.J..”


American Council on Education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Association of American Universities have asked the Department of Education for more flexibility when it comes to accreditation.

The Department of Education has recommended that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges which oversees accreditation for California’s community colleges should lose some of its authority. More via Inside Higher Ed.

“Dean Dad” Matt Reed responds to talk on the presidential campaign trail and in think-tank-land about changing accreditation.

“The University of Tennessee at Martin has been placed on probation by its regional accreditor for falling short of standards related to evidence of institutional effectiveness and general education competencies,” Inside Higher Ed reports.


Market research firm MarketsandMarkets says that MOOCs will be a $8.5 billion industry by 2020 (up from $1.83 billion today). Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. No.

“Charter Oak State College is the latest institution to grant college credit to learners in select massive open online courses offered by edX,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “In January, learners who take two computer science MOOCs offered by the University of California at Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can pay the college $100 a credit hour to receive credit – provided they score an 80 or higher in the course and pay to have their identity verified.”

Meanwhile on Campus

“The president of Liberty University, a leading evangelical Christian college in Virginia, urged students to apply for concealed-weapons permits and said that if more people did so, then ‘we could end those Muslims,’” reports The New York Times.

Citadel confirms suspensions after cadets filmed in white hoods.”

An op-ed from Sara Goldrick-Rab and Katharine Broton in the NYT: “Hungry, Homeless and in College.”

Some 120 students at Boston College are sick after an norovirus outbreak at a Chipotle near the school.

Meal Plan Costs Tick Upward as Students Pay for More Than Food.”

“Evangel University of Missouri announced plans to fire a group of faculty and staff. It looks like another queen sacrifice,” says Bryan Alexander.

Via The New York Times: “More than two dozen religiously affiliated colleges and universities across the United States have received exemptions from the federal civil rights protections provided under Title IX since 2014, documents show, waivers that activists said allow them to discriminate against students and employees on the basis of categories like sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Miller College will close.

Virtual-Reality Lab Explores New Kinds of Immersive Learning.” The lab in question is at University of Maryland College Park, built thanks to money donated by Oculus Rift’s founder.

A love letter to AltSchool in The NYT.

Via The LA Times more on the LAUSD’s probe that led to the firing of Rafe Esquith: “The Los Angeles Unified School District’s internal investigation into celebrated fifth-grade teacher Rafe Esquith found that he allegedly fondled children in the 1970s and that in recent years he inappropriately emailed former students describing them as hotties, ‘sexy’ and referring to himself as their personal ATM, according to new documents.” The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews calls this a “witch hunt,” which to me is just a mind-boggling response.

More Colleges Rescind Cosby Degrees.”

Massive DDoS Attack Leaves UK Universities Without Internet.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Diversity’s Elusive Number: Campuses Strive to Achieve ‘Critical Mass’.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The Guardian: “Concussion expert says children shouldn’t play football until they turn 18.”

“College coaches are pushing the N.C.A.A. to end a largely hidden practice that has become increasingly common: the recruitment of young high school and occasionally even middle school students,” according to The New York Times.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Steve Sarkisian, the former head football coach of the University of Southern California who was fired in October after he appeared to be intoxicated at a game and during team meetings, sued the university Monday, alleging that he was discriminated against on the basis of a disability.”

From the HR Department

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges.” More on presidents’ salaries via The New York Times.

Via Politico: “Brian Jones was sworn in Friday as the 15th president of Strayer University, a for-profit with 78 campuses. Jones spent four years as general counsel of the Education Department during the Bush administration. Movement between the department and the for-profit industry tends to draw ire from sector critics. (One example is Sally Stroup, who left the department’s Office of Postsecondary Education for the for-profit college trade group APSCU.)”

“Erika Christakis, associate master of one of Yale University’s residential colleges, has decided to stop teaching at the university, in part because of the continuing controversy over an email message she sent about Halloween costumes,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

Non-tenured faculty at the University of Chicago have voted to unionize.

Michael Horn, formerly of the Clayton Christensen Institute, will head up a $25 million ed-tech fund, the Robin Hood Education + Technology Fund.

The Wall Street Journal profiles the training and staffing startup Andela. “Is Africa Hiding the Next Mark Zuckerberg? The Future of Tech Talent.”

Via Re/Code: “Economists Suggest Silicon Valley Startups Aren’t Really Creating Many Jobs.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

This week was Computer Science Education Week. I don’t think I saw as much excitement (on Twitter at least) about it or the Hour of Code. But maybe I wasn’t paying attention to the right thing. Perhaps it’s as MIT Media Lab’s Mitch Resnick told NPR: “We’re Making Computer Class Way Too Boring.”

“IBM Ends Its Boneheaded #HackAHairDryer Campaign After Backlash” Wired reports.

“Are Hardware Toys the Future of Kids’ Coding?” asks Edsurge.

According to Futuresource Consulting, Chromebooks made up 51% of devices shipped. It’s not clear to me if this was shipped to the K–12 ed-tech market or to the market as a whole, but hey there’s an infographic.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that his company won’t make “testing machines” like Chromebooks.

The Atlantic examines “Silicon Valley’s College-Consultant Industry.”

From Mike Caulfield: “Introducing Wikity.”

According to Phil Hill, the University of Phoenix is ditching its “homegrown” LMS platform and adopting Blackboard Learn Ultra.

Via Edutechnica: “Year in Review: Top LMS Developments of 2015.”

Feminist Frequency launches practical guide to defend against online harassment.”

Funding and Acquisitions

The Noodle Companies, founded by John Katzman (who previously founded The Princeton Review and 2U), has raised $28 million. Education Week looks at its latest product, Noodle Markets, “a one-stop, Amazon-like source for K–12 schools and districts searching for educational tools.”

Everwise has raised $8 million from Canvas Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and the Webb Investment Network. The mentor-matching startup has raised $10.35 million total.

BrainStorm has raised $6.4 million from Kickstart Seed Fund and Jeremy Andrus.

GoNoodle has raised $5 million from Children's Health, Chrysalis Ventures, and SSM Partners (as well as debt funding from Gefinor Capital and Rand Capital). The company, which makes “brain break” exercise videos and whose questionable privacy practices have been explored by Bill Fitzgerald, has raised $10.9 million total.

Jigsaw Academy has raised $3 million from Manipal Global Education Service. The company offers data science classes.

Edsurge has raised $2.8 million in funding from and the Omidyar Network, as well as a $600,000+ grant from the Gates Foundation to expand its coverage to higher ed ed-tech. Edsurge has raised roughly $5.6 million total.

VLurn has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding so it can built a mobile app.

Open English has acquired Next University. Terms were not disclosed.

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Barnes & Noble Education Profit Falls 9.6%.”

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via Motherboard: “Bugs in ‘Hello Barbie’ Could Have Let Hackers Spy on Children’s Chats.”

Via NPR: “At School And At Home, How Much Does The Internet Know About Kids?”

Via Re/Code: “When Personalized Learning Gets Too Personal: Google Complaint Exposes Student Privacy Concerns.”

Data and “Research”

From the Pew Research Center: “Public Interest in Science and Health Linked to Gender, Age and Personality.”

“A sting operation by the environmental group Greenpeace suggests that some researchers who dispute mainstream scientific conclusions on climate change are willing to conceal the sources of payment for their research, even if the money is purported to come from overseas corporations producing oil, gas and coal,” The New York Times reports. Researchers from Princeton and Penn State took the money.

Whiteboard Advisors asked ed-tech investors about ed-tech investments. 66% said they believe ed-tech companies are overvalued. (Meanwhile, “Investors at Ed-Tech Forum Offer Advice to Companies.”)

What People Want to Know About the Payoff of Different Degrees.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Stability and modest growth. That’s what U.S. colleges and universities can expect over the next year to 18 months, according to a 2016 outlook by credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service.”

Education loans increased in October.

“4 in 5 Parents Question Value Proposition of College,” according to a survey by Kaplan Test Prep.

According to a study by the National Education Policy Center, charter schools are a “gravy train.”

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

Back to Archives