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Education Politics


“U.S. Education Department threatens to sanction states over test opt-outs,” according to The Washington Post.

President Obama has released a plan that would ban solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in federal prison.

The EFF asks why so many universities are opposing the Department of Education’s proposed OER policy (that federally funded educational resources would be openly licensed). One possible answer: patent$.

Proposed legislation before Georgia’s General Assembly would “require schools to provide certain information to students and parents prior to using any digital-learning platform; to provide for definitions; to provide for destruction of student data collected through a digital-learning platform; to provide the opportunity to opt out; to provide for legislative findings; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

Proposed legislation in Washington would allow charters in the state to keep operating – this after the state’s Supreme Court said that charters were unconstitutional.

Presidential candidate Chris Christie is the latest Republican to float the idea of shuttering the Department of Education.

The Pacific Standard looks at “The Right’s Opposition to Federal Education Reform.” (Or at least, to the Common Core.)

Education in the Courts


Via the FTC’s website: “The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against the operators of DeVry University, alleging that DeVry's advertisements deceived consumers about the likelihood that students would find jobs in their fields of study, and would earn more than those graduating with bachelor’s degrees from other colleges or universities.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Colman Chadam carries genetic markers for cystic fibrosis, but doesn't have the disease itself, according to his parents.” Buzzfeed looks at the legal battle his parents are waging against a Palo Alto school district which dismissed him from a school, charging he posed a health risk to other students.

Via Reuters: “North Korea detains U.S. student on New Year trip for ‘hostile act’.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Pennsylvania appeals court has thrown out charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy against Pennsylvania State University’s former president, Graham B. Spanier, involving his role in the Sandusky child-sex-abuse case.”

Three executives from for-profit colleges have been sentenced “on charges related to student financial aid and student visa fraud,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Testing, Testing…


Via Inside Higher Ed: “The GED Testing Service … announced that it will lower the passing score for the GED, a test that serves as the equivalent of a high-school degree. At the same time the service, which Pearson and the American Council on Education own jointly, said it was adding two new, optional levels above the passing score (and the previous passing level) that will allow students to signify college readiness or to earn ACE recommendations for college credits.” More via NPR.

Via NPR: “A History Of The SAT In 4 Questions.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “New study suggests the SAT may over- or underpredict first-year college grades of hundreds of thousands of students.”

The AP reports “SAT tests canceled in China, Macau over cheating concerns.”

Via The New York Times: “Over 200 Educators in New York Receive Erroneous Scores Linked to Student Performance.”

Mills College is the latest school to go “test optional” for admissions.

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


Paul-Olivier Dehaye has filed a privacy complaint in 13 European regions against Coursera. Dehaye was involved in a MOOC controversy in 2014 when he deleted his course on the Coursera platform.

Inside Higher Ed’s Carl Straumsheim scrutinizes Coursera’s recent announcement about charging for courses/assessments/certificates. Warning: includes me.

(Walmart heirs’) Walton Family Foundation says it’s time to “rethink online learning.” Whatever that means. For-profit online charter school chain K12 Inc is also launching a charitable foundation “designed to advance online and blended learning opportunities and outcomes.” Be afraid.

Via the Center for Digital Education: “The Struggle to Make Online Courses Accessible in Higher Ed.”

Via The New York Times: “Europe’s Top Digital-Privacy Watchdog Zeros In on U.S. Tech Giants.”

Meanwhile on Campus


Via Fusion: “Remember #AssaultAtSpringValley? A teen arrested in the incident speaks out.”

Via the AP: “Rivier University, which has a total student population of about 2,600 in Nashua, has created an ‘Employment Promise Program’ that will be available to full-time undergraduates starting with the class of 2020. Students are guaranteed to land a job within nine months of graduation, or the school will either pay their federally subsidized students loans for up to a year or enroll them in up to six master’s degree courses tuition-free.”

Via Eater: “Students at the University of Kentucky now have the distinct privilege of being able to get college credit for eating tacos. According to Munchies, the university is offering an undergraduate class called ‘Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South,’ and the professor behind it wants to use tacos as an avenue for students to learn more about how people can forge social connections through food.”

“The American Bar Association is investigating a complaint that Brigham Young University's law school violates the group's nondiscrimination guidelines by maintaining policies that allow the expulsion of students for being homosexual or for losing their Mormon faith before graduation,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via The New York Times: “Success Academy Founder Defends Schools Against Charges of Bias.”

“Yik Yak Tests Universities’ Defense Of Free Speech,” says NPR.

For-profit Westwood College announced it would close its doors in March.

Four people were killed at a school shooting in Saskatchewan.

Via the AP: “Pakistan closes schools in province amid Taliban threats.”

Via NPR: “The Citadel Punishes 14 Cadets Over White-Hooded Photos.”

“Colleges That Ask Applicants About Brushes With the Law Draw Scrutiny,” according to The New York Times.

Should Harvard Rename Med School for $1 Billion?

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “College Endowments Report Lowest Return Rate in 3 Years.” But via The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “U.S. Colleges Raise $40 Billion; Stanford Tops List at $1.6 Billion.”

Oxford University’s Oriel College says it will not remove its statute of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes.

Via Bryan Alexander: “One midwestern university has responded to declining enrollment in a very specific way. Lake Superior State University … is apparently denying tenure to tenure-track faculty in some cases because the campus cannot afford to grant long-term employment to them.”

Go, School Sports Team!


Baltimore Ravens player John Urschel will spend the off-season working on his PhD at MIT.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges Raised $1.2 Billion in Donations for Sports in 2015.” #GoDucks

Former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has joined the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Via Sports Illustrated: Shaq says he was ‘paid very well’ while playing at LSU. (I guess this is something that the O’Neals are weighing as Shaq’s oldest son is being recruited by various colleges.)

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Nearly One-Quarter of College Athletes Report Signs of Depression.”

Amherst will drop its racist mascot, Lord Jeff.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Rhode Island has agreed to pay $1.45 million to the family of a baseball player who died after collapsing during a team workout in 2011.”

From the HR Department


Via The Telegraph: “Pearson chief brands critics ‘naive and ignorant’ as company cuts 4,000 jobs.” Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. (Elsewhere in Pearson news, the company was hit with an Ofsted report that ranked it “inadequate” and found “no key strengths” in its apprenticeship program.)

MIT’s dean for graduate education, Christine Ortiz, is taking a one year leave in order to start a new research university. “‘I’m looking at a new model, where the whole sort of vocabulary is different,’ she said. ‘The distinction between undergrad and grad goes away.’ Ortiz said the university would focus on project-based learning and would dispense with some of the familiar hallmarks of university education, like the lecture.”

Not a good week for Melissa Click, the University of Missouri professor who was caught on camera during protests last year asking journalists to stop filming. She’s been charged with assault, and she’s been suspended from her job.

Elsewhere at Mizzou: “The University of Missouri will raise the minimum stipend for graduate students, to $15,000, in July, the interim chancellor, Henry C. (Hank) Foley, announced on Wednesday,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. And also via The Chronicle: “Former Mizzou Chief Blames Others for Resignation in ‘Confidential’ Letter.”

Via the Chicago Sun-Times: “Wheaton College faculty council opposes effort to fire professor.”

Via Bloomberg Business: “Why Doesn’t Silicon Valley Hire Black Coders?”

Upgrades and Downgrades


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Scholars Criticize Academia.edu Proposal to Charge Authors for Recommendations.”

Oh look. A(nother) new interoperability standard for ed-tech. Cue xkcd.

“Angry Birds creator Rovio has spun out its education operations into a new company under the name of Fun Academy,” Gamasutra reports.

“Instructure and Echo360 To Get Tighter Integration for Student Activity Reporting,” says Campus Technology.

Blackboard announced the “availability of new SaaS offerings,” Michael Feldstein reports.

Via Edsurge: “Bloomboard Releases Micro-Credentials Offering and ‘Pinterest for Teachers’.” Whatever happened to all those other startups that were supposed to be “Pinterest for Teachers”?

Does Technology Ever Reduce the Costs of Teaching?

Via The New York Times: “An App Helps Teachers Track Student Attendance.”

Education Week has an update on what happened to the millions that LeVar Burton raised via Kickstarter to reboot Reading Rainbow as an app.

Via Edsurge: “panOpen Launches OER Platform to Reduce Textbook Costs.”

Funding and Acquisitions


Apple has acquired LearnSprout, a company that initially worked on API- and SIS-integration tools (but that had recently pivoted to an analytics dashboard). Edsurge surmises that the acquisition will help Apple with new iOS features that promise to better integrate devices and apps into school administrative tools. (It's not clear to me what happens to all the student data LearnSprout had accumulated. Were these "assets" also acquired?)

Grovo has raised $40 million from Accel Partners, Costanoa Venture Capital, SoftTech VC, Greg Waldorf, and Vayner Capital. The “workplace learning” company has raised $62.02 million total.

TAL Education, a Chinese tutoring company, has invested an undisclosed amount of money in the mind-reading software Knewton.

ProctorFree has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Task Force X Capital. The startup is “an automated service that uses biometric and machine learning technologies to eliminate the need for human oversight in online exams” which doesn’t sound horrifying at all.

Edsurge looks at New Markets Venture Partners new venture fund.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance


More Security Vulnerabilities Found in Hello Barbie Toy’s Servers.”

Via Education Dive: “The University of Virginia is dealing with the aftermath of a data breach that exposed the W–2s of about 1,400 employees and the direct deposit banking information of another 40.”

Via Education Week: “The Clarksdale, Miss., school board has approved the use of drones for educational purposes” (which in this case means filming athletic events).

Data and “Research”


Via The New York Times: “What a Million Syllabuses Can Teach Us.”

Via Politico: “In an SEC filing, Navient reports that total delinquency rates are at the lowest levels for FFELP and private education loans since 2005.”

Eduventures has published a report on the learning management system market.

Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Percentage of College Admissions Officers Who Check Out Applicants' Social Media Profiles Hits New High.”

Via Education Week: “Per Pupil Spending Down in Most States.” At the higher education level, “State support for higher education is up 4.1 percent this year, according to a new report,” that is, according to Inside Higher Ed. And via The Hechinger Report: “Education spending gap widens between college haves and have-nots since recession.”

Via a story published on Medium about female tech founders: “In the Bay Area, 16 companies that received A funding in 2015 were led by a female CEO, or 8% of the total. This represents a 30% year-over-year decrease in the number of female-led companies that raised an A in the Bay Area compared with 2014.”

According to a study by Duke, “Charter school segregation worsens in North Carolina.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students waste about one-fifth of class time on laptops, smartphones and tablets, even though they admit such behavior can harm their grades.”

Which states allow guns on campus?

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Audrey Watters


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