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Education Politics


“Republican leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday rushed through a bill to repeal all local LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances in the state and ban transgender people from certain restrooms,” Buzzfeed reports. “Introduced and passed within 10 hours, the bill then went to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. He signed it around 10 p.m. Wednesday, citing North Carolina residents’ expectation of privacy and ‘basic community norms.’” Shameful.

“After 8 Months, Pennsylvania Gets a Budget,” reports Inside Higher Ed. Congrats?

Elsewhere: “Illinois cuts off funding for its public universities,” reports Marketplace.

From Texas (well, via the Houston Press to be precise): “The State Board of Education Is Looking at Science Curriculum. Again.” Wheeeeee.

Via Education Week: “Lawmakers in Washington state have passed a bill to resuscitate the state’s fledgling charter school sector six months after the state’s supreme court ruled the original law was unconstitutional.”

Via The Star: “The Toronto District School Board paid departing Education Director Donna Quan close to a staggering $600,000 when she left last December, roughly half of it in unused vacation days over her 14 years as a manager with the board, and the rest of it her salary.”

Via Buzzfeed: “The Education Department will fast-track debt forgiveness for hundreds of thousands of former students at Corinthian Colleges, the government said Friday, in a move that could cost taxpayers billions. Former students at 91 of Everest and Wyotech college campuses spanning 20 states will be automatically granted forgiveness after filling out a simple online form.” Here’s the press release from the Department of Education. Related news about Corinthian from ProPublica: “How a For-Profit College Targeted the Homeless and Kids With Low Self-Esteem.” Related news about student loan debt from the Consumerist: “$176M In Wages Garnished For Unpaid Federal Student Loans In Just Three Months.”

And in still more student loan news: “The U.S. Department of Education has rehired two of the debt collection companies that it said last year would be fired for misleading student loan borrowers, newly released federal records show,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Department officials announced in February 2015 that they would ‘end’ the contracts of five debt collectors, accusing the companies of making ‘materially inaccurate representations’ to borrowers trying to get their loans out of default.” “End” is in scare-quotes because, yeah… heckuva job, Dept of Ed.

Via The New York Times: “Cuomo Faces Loud Backlash Over Push to Cut State’s CUNY Funding.” The Governor has proposed cutting CUNY’s state funding by $485 million.

Education Week has a series of stories exploring the Investing in Innovation program, including one on “What We Can Learn from i3 Grant Recipients Who Struggled.”

Presidential Politics


“Students at Emory Protest ‘Trump’ Chalk Markings,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Via NY Mag: “Emory University: We Will Use Security Cameras to Track Down and Possibly Punish Students Who Chalked Their Support for Trump.” But wait, still more awful: the latest salvo in the BS narrative that this whole Trump thing is the fault of “political correctness,” The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf writes about “How Emory’s Student Activists Are Fueling Trumpism.”

Via the NY Daily News: “N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says case against Trump University is ‘a straightforward fraud case’.”

Funnily enough, many of the same publications who continue to make fun of the offerings from Trump University rarely look critically at the overhyped promise of ed-tech.

Education in the Courts


Via Buzzfeed: “The California attorney general has won a $1.2 billion judgment against Corinthian Colleges, with a judge ruling the company, which operated the Everest University chain of for-profit colleges, lied to and defrauded its students. The judgment includes $800 million in compensation to former students – an amount that the shuttered and bankrupt Corinthian will almost certainly never pay. The little money that was left in the company's coffers has been doled out to hungry creditors.” That second sentence there seems pretty important.

“$31 Million Court Win for a For-Profit College,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Federal judge backs finding that an accreditor misled the Education Department about a now-closed for-profit institution, and relieves most of the college’s debt.”

Via The New York Times: “A jury in San Diego on Thursday rejected claims by a law graduate, Anna Alaburda, that the Thomas Jefferson School of Law enticed her to enroll by using misleading graduate employment figures. In the first – and perhaps last – such case to reach the courtroom, Ms. Alaburda, 37, argued that the school reported a higher percentage of its graduates landed jobs after graduation than was actually the case, and that she relied on the bogus data to choose to attend the school.”

Via the NSBA: “Teacher, whose nude photo was disseminated on social media by student, sues South Carolina district claiming she was forced to resign.”

Via the AP: “Colleges face legal backlash from men accused of sex crimes.”

Also via the AP: “A New England prep school graduate who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old freshman as part of a game of sexual conquest called Senior Salute was sent to jail Friday after acknowledging he violated his bail agreement by repeatedly missing curfew.”

Testing, Testing…


Freddie deBoer has penned a report for New America on standardized testing for college.

Automated essay grading is coming to the PARCC exam, says Politico.

Is Common Core’s Effect on Achievement Fading?” asks Education Week in response to a recent report by the Brookings Institution. (Where in “achievement” equals “test scores.”)

Interesting verb choice in this headline: “Sophisticated test scams from China invade U.S. college admissions.” And the subhead: “Students hire imposter ‘gunmen’ to take the SAT, the GRE and other tests.”

It’s really hard to summarize this story in just a sentence or two, so you’ll have to give The NYT a click if you want to read more about this tale of testing/ed reform/privacy intrigue: “Montclair Still Feels Strife From School Tests Posted Online in ’13.”

Via The Washington Post: “Fire-breathing stunt goes wrong at pep rally for standardized testing.”

Campus Life


“More Teachers Can’t Afford To Live Where They Teach,” NPR reports.

“The End of Research in Wisconsin” by Slate’s Rebecca Schuman. “UW-Madison spent $9 million to keep top faculty from being poached, but the damage has been done.”

Detroit makes community college free.”

Delaware State University purges more than 20 academic programs.” Guess which departments.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “A group of parents at a Cobb County elementary are upset over the school’s use of yoga and other mindfulness practices for students because they believe it endorses a non-Christian belief system.”

Via The Atlantic: “The Rise of Liberal Arts in Hong Kong.”

“Could China buy America’s top universities?” asks an Edsurge op-ed that examines Chinese investment in education/technology.

Via the Aspen Daily News Online: “The budget crunch facing Aspen public schools could be relieved by allowing wealthy donors to put their names on buildings and programs, say representatives involved with a local fundraising effort.”

Buzzfeed has a follow-up to last week’s news about Cincinnati State Technical and Community College’s outsourcing plans: “Public College Opens New Frontier In Education Privatization.”

Via NPR: “Kansas Campuses Prepare For Guns In Classrooms.”

Via The New York Times: “U.C.L.A. Center on Police-Community Ties Will Move to John Jay College.”

“Crytek Brings VR Labs to Universities,” says Campus Technology.

“Sexual Harassment Cases Tarnish Berkeley’s Image as a Center of Social Activism,” says The New York Times.

Via Buzzfeed: “Sent Home From Middle School After Reporting A Rape.”

Via The Atlantic: “UC Davis Students Demand the Ouster of Their Chancellor.”

Via SF Gate: “UC regents’ committee OKs ‘anti-Zionism’ as discrimination.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Universities Build a ‘Connected Learning’ Network for Refugees.”

NPR looks at education in South Sudan and the struggle to keep students in schools. The Economist says that the private sector needs to step in in countries where the governments are failing to provide decent education.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “U of California at San Diego’s new early warning system aims to condense millions of data points into a simple metric showing whether students will graduate on time.” “[T]he university wants to avoid a situation where an adviser looks at the dashboard and tells a student, ’You have low incoming test scores and you’re a low-income Latino – maybe you shouldn’t be an engineering major?”

Inside Higher Ed covers a report released by the AAUP that criticizes Title IX enforcement as harming free speech on campus.

Via Education Week: “New York City public schools … announced plans to move forward on a proposed Amazon contract for an online e-book marketplace for educators, after the deal stalled for seven months while concerns about accessibility for blind and visually impaired users were addressed.”

Headline of the week goes to The Chronicle of Higher Education with this gem: “Does Engineering Education Breed Terrorists?

Go, School Sports Team!


March Madness Sports Team Excitement!

Via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “A controversial bill to restrict the public’s access to records about state economic development projects cleared both chambers of the Georgia Legislature this week, with an unprecedented amendment that would also delay access to information from the University of Georgia Athletic Association and other athletic departments at state public colleges. The bill, SB 323, would give all public college athletic associations 90 days to respond to an open records request. The bill covers all Georgia public colleges, including the four most powerful athletic departments – UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State and Georgia Southern.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III Committee on Infractions placed Kalamazoo College on three years’ probation Tuesday for violating rules that prohibit Division III colleges from awarding financial aid based on athletic ability.”

“Brain-Zapping Headphones Could Make You a Better Athlete,” says the MIT Technology Review. Andreessen Horowitz is an investor, so you know it’s gotta be… something.

Via The New Yorker: “The Faces of College Wrestlers.”

From the HR Department


Chicago Teachers Union delegates have approved an April 1 teacher walkout.

“Non-Tenure-Track Professors Unionize at Duke,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via Edsurge: “Noodle.com, a discovery and rating platform for educational products, services and institutions, has cut its marketing and editorial teams by as much as 80 percent, effectively gutting the departments. The company laid off between 10 and 20 people across the two departments, which collectively had a staff in the ‘low 20s,’ confirmed John Katzman, Noodle’s CEO.”

Via The Atlantic: “Why Teach for America Is Scrapping Its National Diversity Office.” Layoffs at TFA will cut its national staff by 15%.

Scot Graham, an LAUSD official who had accused Superintendent Ramon Cortines of sexual harassment, has resigned and settled with the district for $93,000.

It looks like John McAdams will keep his job at Marquette University, despite the school’s efforts to revoke his tenure because of comments he made on his blog about a graduate student instructor. The details of his punishment aren’t public, but according to Inside Higher Ed, McAdams has to apologize.

Via The Denver Post: “ The University of Colorado nutrition expert who accepted $550,000 from Coca-Cola Co. is stepping down as executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. James Hill announced Friday that he was leaving, effective immediately, but he expects to continue researching causes of obesity.”

Via Politico: “LinkedIn, labor-market analysis organization Burning Glass and the Markle Foundation have joined forces to roll out a new kind of job website – Skillful.com – specifically designed for middle-skills workers, or people who have a high school diploma but not a bachelor’s degree. The site launched in Colorado this month with an initial emphasis on the information technology, advanced marketing and healthcare fields, with plans to branch into the greater Phoenix area as early as next month. The project has the support of Colorado’s state government as well as Arizona State University and MOOC provider edX.”

“Beth Rabbitt Takes Over as CEO of The Learning Accelerator,” Edsurge reports.

Via The Herald-News: “Joliet Junior College President Debra Daniels resigns effective immediately.”

Biggest pay gap in America: Computer programmers,” says CNET. (Not really. But hey, it’s a very clickable headline.)

Upgrades and Downgrades


Congrats to this year’s winner of the Doodle4Google, Akilah Johnson.

Edsurge writes about how schools can bring “Shark Tanks” to their schools. Shark Tank is a reality TV show featuring investor Mark Cuban in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, hoping to win some investment. “Shark Tank funds fewer women than men, with less money,” Mashable wrote earlier this year, but I’m sure it’ll be totally equitable if schools adopt the practice.

The latest batch of Y Combinator startup had their Demo Day this week. There were so many of them, the pitches took two days to complete. Here’s Techcrunch’s list of those from Day 1 and Day 2. Click through to see the education-related companies at your own risk.

The School Library Journal scrutinizes the Open eBooks app recently released as part of the Obama Administration’s ConnectED Initiative. In a nutshell: it “needs work.” There are problems with accessibility and eligibility and plenty of “front-end bugs.”

Language learning community Livemocha will be shuttered in April. Rosetta Stone acquired Livemocha in 2013. Bonus points if you can take advantage of any of the eight languages Rosetta Stone makes this announcement available in.

The bookmarking site Diigo asks, on its blog, if it should keep its “social aspects.” (Is Diigo okay? I don’t know how much money it’s raised or how/if it has revenue.)

O’Reilly Media unveils “Oriole Online Tutorials.” Paco Nathan, the director of the company’s learning group, says, “Our intent was to look beyond books, beyond video, beyond even the likes of MOOCs or oh-so-many search queries leading to dubious StackOverflow threads.”

Oh look. More proprietary ed-tech companies invoking “open.” Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “McGraw-Hill Education Latest to Adopt Knovation Open Ed. Curated Content.” “I don’t see OER as a threat,” says the president of McGraw-Hill’s K–12 division and that speaks volumes.

In other McGraw-Hill news: “McGraw-Hill Education Pulls Textbook Amid Criticism Over Middle East Map,” Education Week reports. [Insert joke about how OER would make a recall like this less likely here.]

In still other textbook news, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish some of the comics of Randall Munroe (of xkcd fame) in its science textbooks. You know what would be super awesome? If instead of textbooks, we could point students to some other resource by Munroe. Like, say, a book or even a website.

“Higher ed’s digital shift not as fast as some hope,” says Education Dive.

iOS9.3 is here, bringing with it Apple’s new Classroom (management/monitoring/deployment) app.

Via The Verge: “Old Kindles will be disconnected from the internet unless you update by Tuesday.” That’s Tuesday 22 March. So ruh-roh if you missed this story! And bummer if you’re a school media specialist who’s had to deal with this.

Michael Feldstein and Phil Hill suggest there will be “some changes at e-Literate and MindWires” as the two expand their consulting/analysis business.

So much of ed-tech sees students as cheats and frauds.

“The Shift Toward Competency Starts With Faculty,” according to an op-ed in Edsurge penned by the president of the for-profit university Capella (which incidentally offers competency-based degrees). So arguably it could be that the shift towards CBE starts with PR.

In news of other education trends: “Medical, Dental, 401(k)? Now Add School Loan Aid to Job Benefits.” (Again, keep an eye on the growth of private student loan startups.)

The Business of Education/Technology


Test-prep company Byju has raised $75 million from Sequoia Capital and Sofina. “This is the largest fundraising in the education start-up segment in India,” Livemint reports. It’s also the largest funding so far this year, according to my calculations. Yay. Test prep.

Digital permission slip startup Permission Click has raised $1.75 million in seed funding from Friesens Corp and Real Ventures.

Tinkergarten has raised $1.6 million from Omidyar Network, Blue Collective, City Light Capital, 500 Startups, and Outbound Ventures. The company helps families find educational activities for their toddlers and has raised $2.1 million total.

From the National Endowment for the Humanities: “Announcing 18 Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant Awards (March 2016).”

In alt-funding news: Blackboard received a one million grant from DC in order to not relocate out of the district.

“Lifelong learning”-tracking startup Degreed has acquired Gibbon, a “learning playlist” startup. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Language-learning startup PRISA has acquired Carvajal Education for $19.5 Million, says EdWeek’s Market Brief.

ReadCube has acquired Papers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

TES Global has acquired a stake in EduKey.

Oh, the irony: “The American Federation of Teachers is pressuring Pearson PLC, the global education company, to conduct a business strategy review with an eye to becoming more profitable.” Several AFT affiliates’ retirement funds own Pearson shares. And the testing/textbook machine grinds on…

Data and “Research”


Via Hechinger Report: “Government data single out schools where low-income students fare worst.”

Via Edutechnica: “LMS Data – Spring 2016 Updates.”

Via the Blackboard blog: “Research in progress: Learning analytics at scale for Blackboard Learn.” Some interesting findings here about the amount of time spent in the LMS and final grade.

Via the Times Higher Education: “Twitter creates ‘new academic hierarchies’, suggests study.”

Via Education Week: “In What Works Clearinghouse Research, Does High Quality Equal Highly Useful?” The article looks at a report by the American Enterprise Institute, which might be all you need to know about whether or not the governmental entity was deemed useful.

“Blended Capital: What Happens When Companies Tap Both VCs and Foundations For Funding?” asks an Edsurge op-ed. Well, for starters, the disclosures at the bottom of an Edsurge article get really long.

Analysts predict the wearable technology market will grow. Cue headlines about what schools should do in response.

“Evaluating The Results Of New Teacher Evaluation Systems,” by the Shanker Institute’s Matthew Di Carlo.

Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say.”

The Atlantic writes up a report from The Education Trust: “How to Graduate More Black Students.”

H/T Tony Bates for a link to and analysis of “A national survey of university online and distance learning in Canada.”

Via George Veletsianos: “Analysis of the data-driven MOOC literature published in 2013–2015.”

Via The Advocate: “More than two out of three Louisiana residents favor more charter schools, but vouchers have nearly as many opponents as backers, according to an LSU survey released Wednesday.”

Nielsen’s Q4 2015 Total Audience Report and the claims it makes about millennials’ media habits show the dangers of making generalizations based on generations. (That’s my takeaway from the report. YMMV.)

The Pew Research Center’s latest survey involves “lifelong learning” and technology. My thoughts are here.

Degreed released a study on professional development, and – shocking, I know – the findings are quite different from Pew’s. Here’s the headline from the tech-business publication Quartz: “Companies are so bad at helping workers develop their careers, most are training themselves.” (No mention of the Pew study in that write-up, even though the same writer had covered the story just two days before. Because journalism!)

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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