Education Politics

President Obama proposed a $4 billion “Computer Science for All” initiative late last week. No clear indication about what he means by “computer science.” But hey, the industry loves that “high tech worker shortage” narrative, doesn’t it. Gary Stager has thoughts. And via Education Week: “With Computer Science Ed. Gaining Momentum, Girls Still Well Behind.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “The U.S. Department of Education has suspended student-aid eligibility at 26 for-profit education programs, in California, Illinois, and Nevada, after an investigation found several rules violations by the programs.” One of those programs, Marinello Schools of Beauty, announced it would subsequently shut its doors.

The Department of Education has added new requirements for accreditors. According to Inside Higher Ed, it said “it would require accreditors to provide more information to the feds – and to the public, when possible – about sanctions the agencies slap on colleges, including the reason for those sanctions. The department also will require accreditors to separate their reporting of punitive actions against colleges from the other information they submit to the federal government, such as when colleges receive renewal of their accreditation status.” More via The Wall Street Journal.

Iowa held its caucuses this week, and we still have months to go of this election crap.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Higher Learning Commission sent a letter to Illinois lawmakers on Thursday, saying it is ‘obligated to move swiftly to protect Illinois students’ if the state’s budget impasse continues and public colleges are denied state funds.”

Via The Chicago Sun-Times: “More than a thousand teachers marched down La Salle Street on Thursday afternoon, starting in the heart of Chicago’s financial district, to protest a recent contract offer by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”

“Lawmakers Roast the Education Dept.’s Top Technology Officer Over Ethics and Data Security,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Elsewhere at the Department of Education: “A senior Education Department official is apologizing for what he acknowledged was poor judgment and ”unacceptable“ behavior related to working on his side businesses with subordinates, failing to pay taxes on his profits and awarding a government contract to a friend’s company,” Education Week reports. The official in question: Danny Harris, the department’s chief information officer.

Education in the Courts

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Northwestern University’s teaching hospital and its chief of cardiac surgery have lost a court bid to dismiss a lawsuit alleging he used unsuspecting patients to test an experimental heart device.”

New Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced that he is ending the state’s lawsuit, filed under former Governor Bobby Jindal, against the Obama Administration over the Common Core.

Via The New York Times: “Public Advocate Letitia James has sued the New York City Education Department, saying a $130 million computer system meant to track services for students with disabilities was a failure.”

Testing, Testing…

“PARCC Scores Lower for Students Who Took Exams on Computers,” says Education Week. Also via Education Week: “Comparing Paper-Pencil and Computer Test Scores: 7 Key Research Studies.”

Via “MaryEllen Elia, tapped seven months ago to lead New York’s education department, now finds herself wedged between a federal mandate to test students and a groundswell of parents in this state who refuse to let their kids take the tests.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “First-semester grade point average may be a better way to predict whether students will graduate than an ACT score, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”

California “sends mixed messages on Smarter Balanced test participation,” according to EdSource.

“Ed Dept issues new guidance on scaling back standardized testing,” says Education Dive.

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

“Hardly Anyone Wants to Take a Liberal Arts MOOC,” says Edsurge. (Only “1.86 unique users have enrolled 4.1 million times in edX’s liberal arts course.” So hardly anyone at all.)

“Dismal performance by Idaho virtual charters result in 20% grad rate,” says Education Dive.

Meanwhile on Campus

Meet the New Student Activists.”

“University of Missouri protests could lead to lower credit rating,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “A Cobb County high school’s new reliance on iPads for classroom work has some worrying students without them could be left behind. Walton High School is directing parents of its nearly 2,600 students to buy iPads for their children to use in classroom assignments starting this month. School officials have said iPads would be available for check-out for students who couldn’t afford or didn't own them, but only about a dozen are being provided for those students to use.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “MIT Dean Takes Leave to Start New University Without Lectures or Classrooms.” (That’s Christine Ortiz.) Dean Dad Matt Reed weighs in.

Via The Washington Post: “At ‘State U.,’ a surge of students from out of state.”

Billy the Kid is on the loose” – one of 14 goats owned by the University of Iowa has escaped.

Emerson College is fining a student for renting out his dorm room on AirBnB.

A letter from MIT President L. Rafael Reif announces an “expansion of learning research and online and digital education.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

Via the Seattle Times: “Lake Washington School District has suspended all Friday classes at Juanita and Redmond high schools after school administrators discovered threatening messages in bathrooms at both schools.” According to Education Week, “Hoaxers increasingly going online to threaten schools.”

“Earlham College, in Richmond, Ind., canceled classes on Thursday after a group of students voiced concerns about diversity on the campus,” The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Three Maryland community colleges plan to close a jointly run health education center because of enrollment changes.”

Via The New York Times: “Students Say Racial Hostilities Simmered at Historic Boston Latin School.”

“Concordia College attempts a queen sacrifice,” says Bryan Alexander.

“University of Michigan and IBM Launch AI-powered Advising System,” says Edsurge.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The New York Times: “John Thrasher, the president of Florida State University, is a former politician who once was chairman of the Rules Committee in the Florida Senate and served a stint as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. He knows how to spin, and how to play hardball. He proved it this week when he issued an astonishingly disingenuous and meanspirited statement after settling a Title IX lawsuit brought by a student who accused Jameis Winston, the former star quarterback of the Seminoles who won the Heisman Trophy in 2013, of raping her in 2012.” The real victim here, according to Thrasher: the university.

Via ESPN: “Baylor faces accusations of ignoring sex assault victims.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “UC-Berkeley Admits Liability in Death of Football Player During 2014 Practice.”

Via LA School Report: “California’s Super Bowl classroom: Inside Levi’s Stadium, a first-of-its-kind STEM education.”

From the HR Department

Robots are coming for education jobs, says the Brookings Institution.

Teach for America turns 25.

Darnell Earley, the emergency manager for Detroit’s public schools, has resigned. In addition to facing criticism about the abysmal conditions of the city’s schools, Earley has been tied to the lead poisoning of the people of Flint. Earley was the person who carried out the decision to use the Flint River as a source of drinking water of that city.

Apollo Education, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, has laid off 70 employees, the Arizona Republic reports.

Jason Lieb, who The New York Times describes as “a prominent molecular biologist at the University of Chicago,” has resigned amid a sexual misconduct investigation.

James Cole, Jr has been tapped as “number 2” in the Department of Education, says Education Week.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “AAUP Asks Mizzou to Lift Suspension of Melissa Click.” Click made a deal this week to avoid assault charges, stemming from her efforts last year to block a journalist from accessing a student protest.

Via The Register: “Uni of Manchester IT director resigns after sacking 68 people.”

“Adjuncts Vote to Unionize in 2 of 3 Schools at U. of Southern California,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a neuroscientist and president of Rockefeller University, has been named the 11th president of Stanford University,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Stuart Udell has been named the new CEO of K12, Inc.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Sesame Workshop, maker of Sesame Street, is launching a venture capital arm in order to invest in startups because everything is terrible.

Could Computer Coding Academies Ease the Student Loan Crisis?” Hahahahahaha. Oh yes, please go on about how for-profit higher ed will ease the student loan crisis.

Pearson is getting out of the LMS market, according to Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

Open Badges in 2016: A Look Ahead.”

More education companies hop on the “growth mindset” bandwagon.

Campbell Brown’s advocacy site The Seventy Four has taken over LA School Report, a website that, as the name suggests, covers schools in the Los Angeles area. More via The LA Times.

The XPRIZE has chosen the 109 teams to compete in its adult literacy competition.

New Carnegie Classifications Are Out.” Whee.

Because ed-tech suffers from amnesia, folks are once again predicting that virtual reality is poised (again) to be “the next big thing.”

Announcing Known 0.9, named for Delia Derbyshire.”

Investments and Acquisitions and Spin-Offs

Magic Leap isn’t an ed-tech company (and I won’t be counting this in my official tally of ed-tech investments unless the marketing for this vaporware changes to focus on education, no matter the edu-related predictions about VR and AR being “on the horizon”). The company, which promises it’s making something augmented reality something something, has just raised $793 million from Alibaba, J.P. Morgan Investment Management, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and T. Rowe Price Associates. The company has raised $1.39 billion total. So I’m sure it’s legit.

Late last year, Edsurge reported that Knewton had filed with the SEC for a $47.25 million round. Looks like that total actually came to $52 million, according to Edsurge, with investment from Sofina, Atomico, EDBI, and as noted last week China’s TAL Education Group. Crunchbase puts the latest round at $10 million (having counted that $42 million in last year’s numbers). Knewton has raised $157.25 million for its mind-reading robo-tutors.

College Ave has raised $20 million from Comcast Ventures, Fenway Summer Ventures, and DW Partners for its student loan marketplace. The company has raised over $40 million.

Xerox is spinning off its student loan servicing company, Affiliated Computer Services.

Handshake, “a university career services platform and student professional network,” has raised $10.5 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, True Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Lowercase Capital. The company has raised $14 million total.

Twig World has raised $4.98 million from Imperial College London for its STEM video offerings.

ProctorExam has raised $550,000 in seed funding from LeapFunder for its proctoring platform.

PowerSchool (which was sold by Pearson to Vista Equity Partners last year) has acquired assessment-maker Interactive Achievement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Edsurge, “Excelligence Learning Corporation, an educational products retailer and portfolio company of the private equity firm Brentwood Associates, has acquired Really Good Stuff, Incorporated, a marketer of K–8 educational products and teaching tools.” Terms were not disclosed.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via The Chronicle: “UC Berkeley faculty members are buzzing over news that University of California President Janet Napolitano ordered the installation of computer hardware capable of monitoring all e-mails going in and out of the UC system. ‘The intrusive device is capable of capturing and analyzing all network traffic to and from the Berkeley campus and has enough local storage to save over 30 days of all this data,’ Ethan Ligon, one of six members of the school's Senate-Administration Joint Committee on Campus Information Technology, wrote in an e-mail Thursday to fellow faculty members.”

“‘Freakouts’ Over Student Privacy Hamper Innovation,” says Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein. Tracy Mitrano, Academic Dean of the University of Massachusetts Cybersecurity Certificate Programs, responds: “Vendor motivations for profit hardly qualify as freedom for a student.” But it sure seems to count as “innovation” these days, eh.

Via Motherboard: “Internet-Connected Fisher Price Teddy Bear Left Kids’ Identities Exposed.”

Also via Motherboard: “Christian University Requiring Students to Use Fitbits Says It Won’t Track Sex.”

Meanwhile, from Open Effect: “Every Step You Fake: A Comparative Analysis of Fitness Tracker Privacy and Security.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What the Education Dept.’s Information-Security Breakdowns Really Mean.”

Data and “Research”

I’ve run the numbers on January’s ed-tech investments. More details here.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Professor Who Helped Expose Crisis in Flint Says Public Science Is Broken.”

Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The University of Maryland at College Park, stung by criticism over a news release in December that touted the benefits of a specific brand of chocolate milk among high-school athletes who had suffered concussions, has convened a high-level panel to review the incident and how the university communicates research findings.”

Edsurge has released a report on adaptive technology. Education Week covers the report in turn (because infographic), asking “Is Adaptive Technology an Ed Tech Prize or Fool’s Gold?

Jeffrey Selingo says we’re poised to see “the end of college rankings as we know them.”

The Gates Foundation says more data will be more better when it comes to higher education.

NMC and Educause have released the latest higher ed Horizon Report. Don’t worry – I’ll be liberating the data from the PDF this weekend and adding it to the site.

From the Joan Ganz Cooney Center: “Opportunity for All? Technology and Learning in Lower-Income Families.”

Is culinary school worth it?

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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