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Education Politics


Arne’s officially out, and John King is now Acting Secretary of Education. (And the for-profit college sector has already reached out to him, no surprise.)

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College, the accreditor for California’s community colleges, lost its appeal to the Department of Education and will have a year to resolve issues around its not meeting federal accreditation standards.

The FTC has fined Lumosity $2 million over deceptive advertising claims about its “brain training” program.

Education in the Courts


Via Inside Higher Ed: “The loan guarantor USA Funds plans to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court … seeking to overturn a federal appeals court ruling that barred the agency from collecting fees from a borrower who had defaulted on her student loan but started repaying it.”

The Authors Guild’s appeal of the “Google Books lawsuit” has reached the Supreme Court (although there’s no guarantee that the court will hear the case).

Also looking to have his case picked up by the Supreme Court: Taylor Bell, a high school student who claims his first amendment rights were violated when he was suspended for writing a rap song about his school’s coaches.

Also before the Supreme Court: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which will determine the legality of mandatory union fees.

Testing, Testing…


Delaware is dropping the Smarter Balanced test in exchange for the SAT for eleventh graders.

West Virginia is considering dropping SBAC in exchange for the ACT.

MOOCs and UnMOOCs (a.k.a. Online Education)


Towards Automated Study Guides for MOOCs: A Tech Report From the Stanford Info Lab.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Six universities from Australia, Europe, Canada and the U.S. are seeking to establish a new alliance in which each organization’s massive open online courses (MOOCs) are formally accredited by partner institutions.”

“Penn State World Campus is partnering with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) to offer union members the opportunity to finish their degrees online,” Campus Technology reports.

“Could Silicon Valley virtual charter’s all-inclusive model revolutionize the space?” asks Education Dive. Nope. It can’t.

Meanwhile on Campus


“What’s So Innovative About Salman Khan’s One-Room Schoolhouse?” asks Edsurge. NPR also profiled Khan Academy’s new “lab school.” Solid work on the PR front, Khan Academy.

“Older Students Learn for the Sake of Learning,” and The New York Times is on it.

Barber-Scotia College, a HBCU, will close for the spring semester.

Via The New York Times: “The scope of a sexual abuse scandal at St. George's School in Rhode Island widened substantially on Tuesday as lawyers reported that at least 40 former students had made credible reports of sexual abuse, and in some cases rape, by seven former staff members and four students over three decades.”

“Federal Campus Rape Investigations Near 200, And Finally Get More Funding,” the Huffington Post reports.

Colleges are banning hoverboards on campus.

Go, School Sports Team!


“ESPN’s College Football Playoff Ratings Plummet On New Year’s Eve,” NPR reports.

From the HR Department


Blackboard has replaced its CEO Jay Bhatt. The new head of the LMS company: Bill Ballhaus.

Wheaton College announced that it is taking steps to fire tenured professor Larycia Hawkins because of statements she made about Christians and Muslims worshiping the same god.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “More than 100 Republican state legislators have urged the University of Missouri at Columbia to fire Melissa Click, a communications professor who was videotaped during a campus protest blocking a student journalist from getting close to the protest.”

Via Edsurge: “Jim Shelton Appointed 2U President After Rob Cohen Announces Retirement.”

“A Florida Atlantic University professor who suggested in blog postings and radio interviews that the 2012 massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary and other mass shootings were a hoax designed by the Obama administration to boost support for gun control was fired Tuesday,” The New York Times reports.

Via The NYT: “The principal at a Success Academy charter school who created a ‘Got to Go’ list of difficult students is taking a personal leave of absence, a Success Academy spokeswoman said on Monday.”

Upgrades and Downgrades


LEGO Education has launched a new version of its WeDo robotics kit.

Four new elements have been synthesized, completing the seventh row of the periodic table and making all non-OER chemistry textbooks out-of-date. (There’s a petition to name one of the heavy metal elements after Lemmy.)

Fortune has a special report on business interests behind the Common Core State Standards.

Forbes has published its annual clickbait “30 Under 30.” I’m unwilling to turn off my ad-blocker to read that crappy site, so if you’re like me, you’ll have to get the information about its “education changemakers” secondhand from Edsurge.

Elsewhere in clickbait, Inc has published its list of the 5000 fastest growing companies (note: just like Forbes’ clickbait, you have to apply to appear on the list), and whee, there are some education ones on it.

Khan Academy is seeking a patent on A/B testing educational videos.

Campus Technology has a list of “10 Products From CES That Will Impact the Classroom,” including a “smart helmet.” So yeah. No.

Via The New York Times: “Putting the Heat on Yik Yak After a Killing on Campus.”

“E-learning for Africa held back by power shortage,” the BBC reports.

“In 2016, The Coding Bootcamp Bubble Is Bound to Burst,” Wired predicts.

“Google is becoming U.S. K–12 schools’ operating system,” the San Jose Mercury News contends. “Google, a ‘school official?’ This regulatory quirk can leave parents in the dark,” The Washington Post frets.

Funding and Acquisitions


Tutoring company Jerry Education has raised $40 million from Sailing Capital and the investment wing of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Degreed has raised $21 million from Jump Capital, Signal Peak, Rethink Education, and Deborah Quazzo. The startup has raised $29.8 million total.

Tutoring company Zhiyou Education has raised $9.2 million from Legend Capital.

Coding bootcamp Bloc has acquired DevBridge. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Capita has acquired Brightwave Group. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Washington Post has a list of donors to the Foundation for Education Excellence, the education organization founded and formerly run by Jeb Bush.

Via Buzzfeed: “Walmart Heirs Will Give $1 Billion To Expand Charter Schools.”

Data and Surveillance


The EFF offers its review of student-related privacy issues in 2015.

Via The New York Times: “Tweets About Israel Land New Jersey Student in Principal’s Office.”

The latest report from the Pew Research Center looks at “Parents, Teens and Digital Monitoring.”

Bill Fitzgerald looks at school directory information and how much can be gleaned from this data, despite the privacy protections that FERPA purports to provide.

Data and “Research”


Rick Hess has published his annual list purportedly ranking “edu scholars” by their influence.

A forthcoming paper: “Are We Heading Toward a Charter School ‘Bubble’?: Lessons from the Subprime Mortgage Crisis.”

Ambient Insights has published a white paper about 2015 ed-tech investments, which it says totaled $6.54 billion.

Inside Higher Ed covers the results of a survey by Public Agenda about what college faculty and administrators think about competency-based education.

Via Education Week: “Nation Earns a C on Quality Counts Report Card.” (It also provides a letter grade for each individual state.)

Bryan Alexander looks at a recent report by Goldman Sachs on the state of higher ed.

“Turns Out Monkey Bars And Kickball Might Be Good For The Brain,” says NPR.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds that attractive female students earn higher grades than unattractive female students do. For male students, looks don’t seem to matter.”

“The concept of different ‘learning styles’ is one of the greatest neuroscience myths,” says Quartz.

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Audrey Watters


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