Education Politics

“President Obama’s 2017 Budget Seeks to Expand Educational Opportunity for All Students,” says The Department of Education. According to Education Week, “Obama Budget Would Prioritize Integration, Flat Fund Key Programs.” Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education look at the budget plans for higher ed (noting that “it’s a nonstarter for Congress”). The data for the proposed budget is available on GItHub.

President Obama has formally nominated John B. King Jr. as Secretary of Education. Meanwhile, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan has signed with a talent and sports agency.

The Department of Education announced the creation of the Student Aid Enforcement Unit “to respond more quickly and efficiently to allegations of illegal actions by higher education institutions.”

Via Politico: “ Sens. Bob Casey and Orrin Hatch on Thursday introduced the bipartisan Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success Act, which would eliminate the FAFSA's drug conviction question and prevent students convicted of drug offenses from losing their financial aid.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Hillary Clinton To Tap Education Department Aide As Director Of Black Media.” (That’s Denise Horn, whose been DoE assistant press secretary.)

Maine Governor Paul LePage has appointed himself education commissioner.

“A Florida proposal requiring public high schools to offer virtual or in-person computer science classes – and classifying those courses as foreign language – has passed in the Florida House of Representatives,” Edsurge reports. This is a terrible idea.

Proposed legislation in Kansas would eliminate tenure for its community college faculty. (K–12 teachers in the state have already lost any due process protection.)

Education in the Courts

Via Education Week: “The Kansas Supreme Court struck down a stopgap law for funding the state’s public schools on Thursday, saying it left poor districts $54 million short.”

Via Pacific Standard: “Abusers in the Juvenile Justice System Are Getting Off Scot-Free.”

Testing, Testing…

Via Chalkbeat TN: “On a day that was supposed to mark a new era of online testing in Tennessee, a major technology failure led State Department of Education officials to scrap their new online exam and revert to paper-and-pencil tests.” The state has frozen its $108 million testing contract with Measurement Inc.

“Rhode Island students who took the 2014–15 PARCC exams by computer tended to score lower than those who took the exams by paper, raising further questions about the validity and usefulness of results from the tests taken last school year by more than 5 million students in the multi-state Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers,” Education Week reports.

Also via Education Week: “Computer Glitch Throws Off New York Principals’ Scores.”

According to a study released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, “The PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments do a better job gauging the depth and complexity of important academic skills and knowledge than do the ACT Aspire, or Massachusetts’ MCAS exam.”

Via Edsurge: “Why the SAT and ACT May Replace PARCC and Smarter Balanced.”

Via Education Week: “PARCC Considers Reorganization, Seeks Input to Shape its Future.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why the OECD Wants a Global Effort to Measure Student Learning.” And Education Week writes up another complaint from the OECD: “U.S. Efforts Haven’t Helped Low Performers on Global Math, Reading Tests.” More testing is sure to solve it.

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

A couple of reports on online education: “WCET Distance Education Enrollment Report 2016: Using IPEDS 2014 Fall Enrollment Data” and “Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States.” More on the results via The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and the Hechinger Report.

Why Harvard and One of Its Professors Are Fighting to Trademark a CS Course.” Because “open.” Duh.

Coursera is launching “project-based learning courses.” (Or rather, it’s labeling classes like “Build Your First Android App” as such.)

Georgia Tech joins edX as a charter member. The KTH Royal Institute of Technology has also joined edX.

Meanwhile on Campus

Imani Perry, an African-American history at Princeton, said that she was arrested for an unpaid parking ticket (from three years ago) and handcuffed to the desk at the police station. Police have released a video of her arrest.

Via ABC News: “Double Shooting Reported at Arizona High School.”

A ten-hour leopard attack, starting at the Vibgyor International School in Bangalore, India.

You thought the president of Mount St. Mary’s comment about treating struggling students bunnies needing to be drowned was bad? Oh man. It’s gotten worse. The provost who challenged the president’s retention plans has been fired, as have two professors (one tenured) – charged with “lack of loyalty,” whatever the hell that means. The school’s accreditor says it’ll investigate. The latest (at time of publishing) from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Mount St. Mary’s Tells Tenured Professor It Fired That He Remains on the Payroll but Is Suspended.” “Tenure Protects Nothing,” Slate’s Rebecca Schuman concludes.

Students at the University of Michigan are having their email inboxes flooded with messages containing lines from Drake’s “Hotline Bling.”

Is Berkeley getting ready to consider a queen sacrifice?” asks Bryan Alexander. “Can Berkeley Stay Berkeley?” asks Inside Higher Ed. The US’s number one public university is embracing a “new normal,” administrators say. That’s code for accepting austerity without accepting one’s role in running up a big budget deficit, I think.

Elsewhere in the UC system: “Cybersecurity experts say the network monitoring program at the U of California is less intrusive than reported, but question the university’s decision to keep it hidden from faculty.”

Via the News Tribune: “A $100 million computer software system for Washington’s 34 community colleges is so far behind schedule and operating so poorly that it will likely cost another $10 million before it’s installed in all schools.”

“Could a State Takeover Help Chicago’s Struggling Public Schools?” asks The Atlantic. I mean, state takeovers have such an amazing track record, amirite?

“10 Percent of Ursinus College Students Have the Same Mystery Illness,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

The BBC has found that more than £500,000 in tuition fees, loans and grants have been awarded to West London Vocational Training College in Cardiff, a private college being investigated for fraud.

“Thousands of students of at least four colleges have been left in limbo with huge debts following the collapse of one of the country’s largest vocational education companies,” The Sydney Morning Herald reports. The colleges in question: Aspire College of Education, The Design Works College of Design, RTO Services Group, and the Australian Indigenous College.

Howard University President Proposes Tuition-Free HBCUs.”

Denver is getting a private “microschool.” Tuition: $11,494. Invocation of Laura Ingalls Wilder in describing it: priceless.

Via The Guardian: “Tomb Raider creator to open two free schools with digital focus.” (“Free school” here refers to an English school that is something like a charter school in the US – one not controlled by local authorities.)

Via NPR: “Video Chat Your Way Into College: How Tech Is Changing The Admissions Process.”

Some schools have maker spaces, and The New York Times is on it.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via Jessica Luther, writing for Vice Sports: “On Tuesday, six women filed a civil lawsuit against the University of Tennessee, stating that the school has ‘intentionally acted by an official policy of deliberate indifference to known sexual assault.’ The result, they say, is ‘a hostile sexual environment,’ which is a violation of Title IX.”

Via the AP: “North Carolina’s NCAA academic case stuck in holding pattern.”

From the HR Department

Larycia Hawkins will “part ways” with Wheaton College, which tried to fire her for comments she made about Muslims and Christians worshipping the same god.

Wellesley College has named its first black president, Paula Johnson.

Flat World Education’s CEO Christopher Etesse has resigned. He’ll be replaced by Jade Roth.

Via Mother Jones: “Is America’s Most Controversial Education Group Changing Its Ways?”

Following a battle over the school’s leadership, the president of Suffolk University and the chairman of its Board of Trustees will step down, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Facebook’s plan to offer Facebook-as-Internet to India has run into trouble as Indian regulators have blocked the plan, saying it violates net neutrality.

Via The New York Times: “Wildly Popular App Kik Offers Teenagers, and Predators, Anonymity.”

Ed-Fi and IMS Global announced a partnership, Edsurge reports, “to work towards creating a ‘unified approach to rostering.’”

Via Ars Technica: “Oculus reveals first ‘Oculus Ready’ PCs, in bundles starting at $1,499.” A wonderful price-point for the VR-in-education revolution.

Yet another way that ed-tech expands inequality: “Boom in Online Tutoring Means Another Cost for Many Students.”

Doug Belshaw calls out Pearson’s Acclaim “open badges” offering for not being open (or at least, not being portable).

Via Education Week: “Christensen Institute Offers Database to Compare School Blended Learning Models.”

Techcrunch says that “LendEDU Is Making Student Loan Refinancing Easier.” (Keep an eye on the private student loan market startups. This one is backed by Y Combinator. VCs love private student loans.)

Funding and Acquisitions

Via Buzzfeed: “Investors With Ties To Obama Will Buy University Of Phoenix Owner.” The deal, worth $1.1 billion, will sell Apollo Education to a group of investors, including the Vistria Group, which “will install the former deputy secretary of the Education Department, Tony Miller, as the company's new chairman.” More via Inside Higher Ed., a marketplace for student housing, has raised $60 million from VY Capital, Horizons Ventures, Expa, Daniel Ek, Martin Lorentzon, and Hugo Barra.

Online education platform Digischool has raised $15.7 million from Clément Cézard and others. The startup has raised $19.62 million total.

After School has raised $16.4 million from Cowboy Ventures, Naval Ravikant, and Tikhon Bernstam. The anonymous messaging app – it’s like Yik Yak but aimed at high schools – was banned temporarily from the app stores because of “objectionable content.” But nothing objectionable enough to stop VCs from investing in it, apparently.

“School choice platform” SchoolMint has raised $8 million from Runa Capital, Reach Capital, Fresco Capital, Govtech Fund, Kapor Capital, Crosslink Capital, Maiden Lane Ventures, CSC Upshot, Jared Kopf, Josh Reeves, and Tomer London. The company has raised $10.2 million total.

From the press release, without comment: “NuuED Inc., the advanced technology education company with the power to assist learners based on their unique learning styles, today announced a $3 million financing deal with Swiss-based DuKlaw Ventures. DuKlaw Ventures led the investment effort with participation from German-based Deutsche Gruppe.”

Crunchbase has raised $2 million from Salesforce Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, SV Angel, and 8 Partners. It’s raised $9 million total. The database of venture funding says it will start charging for access to its data (so it’s time for me to find another source to link to in my work on tracking ed-tech investments, I guess.)

CWIST has raised $1.2 million from SFP Capital and Sagamore Ventures.

VTech has acquired Leapfrog for $72 million. And a lot of publications that wrote up the press release failed to talk about VTech’s recent privacy breach. But hey. (More on VTech in the data and privacy section below.)

Fulcrum Labs has acquired Adapt Courseware. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Upswing has acquired AskOnline. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Next Education has acquired InOpen Technologies in an “all cash deal.”

Wisewire has acquired Words and Numbers. Terms were not disclosed.

Teachers-Teachers and myEDmatch are merging. Terms were not disclosed.

The education technology startup accelerator program Imagine K12 has merged with Y Combinator.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via Boing Boing: “Vtech, having leaked 6.3m kids’ data, has a new EULA disclaiming responsibility for the next leak.” “No, VTech cannot simply absolve itself of security responsibility,” writes Troy Hunt.

Via The Washington Post: “D.C. accidentally uploads private data of 12,000 students.”

Approximately 4,100 people – students and employees – have had their data compromised (and this includes Social Security Numbers) due to a laptop stolen from the University of Mary Washington.

Some 63,000 people have been affected by a data breach at the University of Centra Florida.

Via Education Dive: “The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Tenth Amendment Center are teaming up in an attempt to advocate for states to adopt model legislation, written by the ACLU, aimed at strengthening student privacy protections.”

Data and “Research”

CB Insights has released its report on 2015’s ed-tech funding: “more than $2.98B across 442 deals.”

“Adaptive gamified approach can boost math performance” says a study funded by the company making the adaptive gamified math software.

An eye-popping ethnography of three infant cognition labs.”

Via Education Week: “What the Silicon Valley Preschool Gap Says About Schools in Communities.”

According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, education may cut the risk of developing dementia.

Via Ed Yong, writing in The Atlantic: “The Bitter Fight Over the Benefits of Bilingualism.”

Via The New York Times: “Science Teachers’ Grasp of Climate Change Is Found Lacking.”

The Feds’ Best-Value Schools” (according to The New York Times and to a certain definition of “best value”).

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Black students enroll disproportionately in majors that are not the most lucrative, according to a report being released today by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.”

The Internet is making us stupid. Episode 3154.

Github patches from women who don’t reveal their gender more likely to be accepted than patches from identifiable women.” Because meritocracy.

The latest Pew Research Center study looks at dating apps.

How Right-Wing Billionaires Infiltrated Higher Education.”

Meet the Robin Hood of Science.”

AERA Announces Most Read Education Research Articles of 2015.”

Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?” asks Freakonomics. Another wonderful headline from the podcast: “How to Fix a Broken High-Schooler, in Four Easy Steps.” JFC, these guys.

Via Education Week: “Common Core Changes to Teacher PD Raise Student Scores in Math, not English.”

Via the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: “Students with disabilities are restrained and secluded in Wisconsin’s public schools at an alarming rate, despite a 2011 law intended to curb the practices.”

Inside Higher Ed asks, “Why Is Tuition So High?”: “A new study asserts that increased student aid, not faculty salaries or state cutbacks, drives prices higher.”

UCLA has surveyed incoming college freshmen: “Backgrounds and Beliefs of College Freshmen.” The results? “Today’s Freshman Class Is the Most Likely to Protest in Half a Century,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Atlantic calls it “The Re-Politicization of America’s Colleges.”

Image credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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