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Education Politics


The plan to convert all schools in England to academies could cost some £1.3 billion, the Labour Party contends.

Via the Drinks Business blog: “Italy has drafted a bill that would see children as young as six take lessons in wine at primary school, with one hour a week dedicated to ‘wine culture and history’.”

Reassurance from the Department of Education’s blog (I guess): “No, You Won’t Be Arrested For Falling Behind On Your Student Loans.” And you know the department’s on the cutting edge of technology when one of its announcements this week involves a web portal – this one for student loans.

“Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday that he will allow a bill aimed at saving charter schools to become law without his signature, an option not exercised by a Washington governor in 35 years,” The Seattle Times reports.

“Anti-Gay Laws Bring Backlash in Mississippi and North Carolina,” The New York Times reports.

Via Education Week: President Obama has made three new Secretary nominations for the Department of Education: “Matthew Lehrich to be the assistant secretary for communications and outreach at the department; Amy McIntosh to be assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development; and Ann Whalen to be assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.”

Inside Higher Ed reports that “Several civil liberties and academic freedom organizations have sent the U.S. Education Department a letter urging it to avoid decisions or policies that would punish colleges that do not ban Yik Yak.”

With legislation in the state waiting for the governor’s signature, “Virginia Could Be First State to Require All K–12 Students to Learn Computer Science,” says Education Week.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter has vetoed a bill that would have allowed the Bible and other religious texts to be used in public school classrooms.

Presidential Politics


Via Politico: “ Hillary Clinton’s union problem.”

Bronx School Cancels Ted Cruz’s Visit After Students Threaten to Walk Out.”

Education in the Courts


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Department of Homeland Security has arrested 21 people who it says conspired with more than 1,000 foreign nationals to fraudulently obtain foreign worker and student visas through the University of Northern New Jersey, a fake institution.” What does a fake university look like? Like this: “Inside the Elaborate Web Presence of the Government’s Fake University.”

Via The Washington Post: “Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a lawsuit against ITT Educational Services, one of the largest operators of for-profit technical schools, for engaging in abusive sales tactics and misleading students about the quality of its programs.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Parents Will Sue America’s Largest School District Over Classroom Violence.” A pro-charter school org is behind the suit: “Backing the lawsuit is one of the most powerful forces in New York politics: Families for Excellent Schools, an advocacy group that spent $10 million on state lobbying in 2014, more than any other lobby group.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A U.S. district court judge has once again taken a look at three publishers’ case against Georgia State University’s e-reserve and ruled that, in 41 of 48 cases, no copyright infringement took place.”

“The central figure in a discredited Rolling Stone account of a gang-rape at the University of Virginia has been ordered to take part in a deposition for a federal libel lawsuit filed against the magazine by an associate dean at the school, the first time she’ll give a sworn statement about her allegations,” says The Washington Post.

“Parents are suing a Utah school district, claiming their daughter suffered a severe leg injury during an alcohol impairment simulation exercise that involved wearing special goggles,” The Associated Press reports.

Testing, Testing…


Standardized testing is on hold in more than a dozen states. Because Internet.

According to the AP, “The state’s top education official says a computer glitch erased answers on about 14,220 standardized tests taken by Texas high school students.”

Via Chalkbeat New York: “Missing and unlabeled pages on state English exams cause confusion.”

Elsewhere in New York testing news: “A year after record refusals, new round of NY testing begins.”

This week in robots taking the jobs of those (often low-paid, temporary) workers hired to grade standardized tests, via Politico: “PARCC has made more readily available a study on what happens when computers score student essays. The verdict? ‘The performance of the automated engines matched that of the human scorers based on a variety of different performance metrics.’ It said that only in grade three did the automated systems perform ‘slightly’ below the humans. Some PARCC states will begin using the computer-based scoring to judge essays this year, a spokesman for the testing group said.”

The College Board changed the American History AP course/exam in 2014 and The New York Times is on it.

The New York Times also published a story on changes to the Common Core testing market this week: “Rejected by Colleges, SAT and ACT Gain High School Acceptance.”

“Will controversial new tests for teachers make the profession even more overwhelmingly white?” asks The Hechinger Report.

“Newly Launched Assessment Program Aims to Recast Testing,” Education Week reports. One of the schools winning a grant for “innovative testing” is the Summit Public Schools charter chain.

Online Education (The Trend Formerly Known as “MOOC”)


Happy 15th anniversary to MIT OpenCourseWare. (The original NYT announcement.)

Via htxt.africa: “City of Joburg wants to give 25 000 residents free access to online learning by June.” (That’s Johannesburg, South Africa, which is investing heavily in free WiFi at public libraries.)

Meanwhile on Campus


Welp, looks like George Mason University will not go with “ASSoL” as the acronym for its newly renamed (in honor of the late Antonin Scalia) law school.

Via the CBC: “Brandon University sexual assault victims forced to sign contract that keeps them silent.”

Via the Huffington Post: “Video Shows Texas Cop Body Slam Middle School Girl.”

Dev Bootcamp, a coding school owned by the for-profit university Kaplan, will open a new program in Seattle.

Students are occupying a building at Duke. They’re demanding the dismissal of several university administrators, including one who struck a parking attendant with his car and using a racial slur. Tallman Trask says he’s sorry for the former and never said the latter. More via Inside Higher Ed.

“A group of students at Ohio State University began a sit-in on Wednesday in the campus building that houses the president’s office, in pursuit of goals that involve the university’s budget, its investments, and the food served on the campus,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Despite student protests, Princeton says it will keep Woodrow Wilson’s name on its public affairs school.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, on Thursday issued a statement criticizing Margaret Spellings, president of the University of North Carolina, for sending a memo to campus chancellors telling them to enforce a new state law that requires public institutions to label any multiple-person bathroom or locker room as being for either men or women and to bar entry to those whose biological gender at birth does not match the room.”

Also protesting Spellings, HBCU students – those at NC Central, in particular.

The Casper Star Tribune reports that “The University of Wyoming Faculty Senate on Monday voted against a controversial measure to create a new professor track. That would be based on real-world experience rather than academic or teaching credentials.”

“While federal DREAM Act stalls, some public universities already welcome the undocumented,” The Hechinger Report reports. “But dramatic differences among states also block some immigrants from higher educations.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Wesleyan U professor’s lawsuit alleges sexual harassment by a dean and a campaign of retaliation for reporting him.”

Reporting Harassment at MIT.”

“Top students at the University of the People, a tuition-free online institution, will be eligible to transfer to the University of California at Berkeley to finish their bachelor’s degrees,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “The two universities on Monday announced an articulation agreement under which UC Berkeley will consider UoPeople’s top associate degree graduates for admission.”

“Growing number of small colleges struggling to stay afloat,” says the AP.

“It’s harder than ever to get into Harvard,” the AP reports, clearly having failed to read last week’s story in FiveThirtyEight, “Shut Up About Harvard.”

Elsewhere in exclusive schools grabbing all the headlines: “Health Scare at Malibu School Sets Off Media War,” says The New York Times.

Accreditation and Credentialing


Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Obama administration is proposing new standards that govern how and when college accreditors have to alert the U.S. Department of Education about troubled institutions under the accreditors’ purview.”

Doug Belshaw writes up his “Notes on ACE’s ‘Quality Dimensions for Connected Credentials’.” Here’s a link to the original report via the Lumina Foundation website. “What is a ‘credential’ anyway?” Belshaw asks.

Via Campus Technology: “A Digital Badge Initiative: Two Years Later.”

Go, School Sports Team!


Via Vice Sports: “Four Years A Student-Athlete: The Racial Injustice of Big-Time College Sports.”

“Cheating Incidents Blemish NCAA’s Marquee Event,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III Committee on Infractions last month placed Kalamazoo College on three years’ probation for violating rules that prohibit the division's members from awarding financial aid based on athletic ability. For five years, the college considered athletic participation as a factor when determining aid for prospective students, meaning that 567 students received aid packages based on their athletic skill.”

Via the AP: “A YMCA in northeast Nebraska has cited concussion and other health risks in announcing that it will drop its tackle football program for children in third through sixth grades.”

From the HR Department


The University of Phoenix is laying off 470 employees, about 8% of its workforce. (Remember: as the university’s parent company is going private, we’ll no longer be able to see financial information like this about it.)

Lots of sponsored content over at Edsurge that will “help you become a successful teacherpreneur.” No mention of the layoffs happening across venture-backed startups or in for-profit endeavors like UofP. It's always sunny in Teacherpreneur Valley.

Via DNAinfo: “‘F The Police’ Speaker At Teacher Rally Not With CPS, But Union Takes Heat.”

Via The LA Times: “Cal State faculty union postpones planned strike after tentative salary agreement is reached.”

“Unionizing Pays Big Dividend for Professors at Regional Public Universities,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Faculty Senate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison has been largely thwarted in its effort to restore at the campus level many of the faculty powers and job protections that were stripped out of the university system's policies last month.”

Via The Washington Post: “Teachers union touts victory in evaluation fight.” That’s the DC teachers’ union, and the dispute in question involved using students’ test scores as part of teachers’ evaluations. In this case, an arbitrator has ruled that teacher who filed a grievance claiming he was wrongly fired because of this system must be re-hired by the district.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “This week two Ivy League institutions announced high-profile appointments designed to tackle diversity challenges on their campuses. At Yale University, Kathryn Lofton will become the inaugural deputy dean for diversity and faculty development in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. At Princeton University, LaTanya N. Buck will become dean for diversity and inclusion, with a focus on students.” A notable statistic hiring and retention of professors of color at Yale: “Of 86 professors hired from underrepresented groups between 2006 and 2011, half are no longer there.”

Jon Waters, the former director of the Ohio State marching band who was fired because of his tolerance of “routine sexual harassment” among band members has a new job at a private college, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

Upgrades and Downgrades


The AP will change its stylebook and permit lowercase i for Internet and lowercase w for Web. But I don’t use the AP Stylebook here at Hack Education and the capital letter will stay. So there.

MinecraftEDU has released its latest – and its last – update, version 1.7.10. “It is critically important that customers using the MinecraftEdu Hosting Service install this new version on their computers and update their servers immediately. Older versions of MinecraftEdu will no longer be able to connect and play after 30 June 2016.” MinecraftEDU was acquired by Microsoft back in January.

Via Education Week: “The Education Industry Association, which struggled to keep membership after a downturn in federal funding for tutoring, is joining a division of the Software & Information Industry Association, or ETIN, effective immediately, under an agreement announced today.”

“Dear Teachers: You talked, We listened,” says Edmodo, which announced it’s changing how it categorizes and displays resources found in the app.

Bookmarking site Diigo says it plans to refocus on annotation. (No mention of any of the concerns that have been in the news lately about Hypothes.is and Genius and concerns about annotation as harassment.)

According to Edsurge, the writing and annotation tool scrible will start charging money, having been free for the three years of the startup’s existence. (And ditto here for the last sentence in the previous news item.)

Google Classroom adds a polling feature.

Your periodic reminder to never ever trust Google products. “Nest is permanently disabling the Revolv smart home hub,” The Verge reports. Google, which owns both, will shut down the latter’s product on May 15. Boing Boing has a good headline: “Google reaches into customers’ homes and bricks their gadgets.” Now imagine when it does that for your schools’ Chromebooks.

According to Edsurge, “Kira Talent, makers of the higher education video admissions platform Kira Academic, has launched Kira University, a suite of online courses that aims to train university admission officials in spotting the best students and boosting both applications and enrollment.” (Kira University should not be confused with the University of Northern New Jersey. Maybe.)

Congratulations to the 2016–2017 Spencer Education Journalism Fellows.

The Business of Ed-Tech


I won’t include this in my calculations of ed-tech investment, but as many folks are using this software for educational purposes, I’ll make note of this here: “Slack, a Leading Unicorn, Raises $200 Million in New Financing.” Investors in this round include Thrive Capital, GGV, Comcast Ventures, Accel Partners, and Spark Growth. The communication/collaboration platform has raised $539.95 million total.

Claned has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding. Here’s how the company is described by Arctic Startup: “The Helsinki-based startup is solving the riddle one-size-fits-all approach in learning as it is developing a personal learning platform. Empowered by artificial intelligence, the platform will show each user’s study performance and learning orientation, and help individual to discover a personal way of learning for maximizing results.” It’s raised $9.02 million total and hasn’t even launched yet. The list of investors for this and previous funding rounds are not disclosed. Sounds totally legit.

Schoold has raised a $4.5 million seed round from FastForward and Lorne Abony. According to Wikiepdia, Abony is the founder of Schoold (a college search app) as well as Vemo Education, a private student loan company. He was also once on the reality TV show Undercover Boss, for those keeping score at home. I dunno folks, $4.5 million is a big seed round for a pretty basic search app, so maybe this is some Undercover Investor gag for ed-tech.

Always Be Learning Inc. (a.k.a. Abl Schools) has raised $4.5 million from Owl Ventures, Reach Capital, and First Round Capital. The startup, founded by Yammer co-founder Adam Pisoni, focuses on administrative software for schools.

GoReact has raised $4 million from Five Elms Capital. The video-based training tool has raised $4.7 million total.

Sawyer has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Notation Capital, Collaborative Fund, and VC1 in order to be “the OpenTable of kids’ activities.”

Robotics education company SP Robotic Works has raised $300,000 in seed funding from the Indian Angel Network and the Chennai Angels.

Macmillan Learning has acquired WriterKEY.

Frontline Technologies has acquired The Centris Group.

Follett has acquired Wobo.

This is news from the tech sector more broadly, but it’s still worth noting: “for only the fourth time since data the early 90s, there have been no tech company I.P.O.s in a quarter.”

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance


Via L’Obs: “Admission post-bac: des lycéens veulent connaître l’algorithme mystère.” That is, high school students in France want to know what powers the algorithm that’s used to dictate their post-baccalaureate education options.

Via PBS: “Why digital education could be a double-edged sword.”

According to Education Week, the Consortium for School Networking will offer school systems a “‘Trusted Learning Environment’ Seal, intended to demonstrate to parents and the community at large that they are taking appropriate steps to protect the privacy and security of sensitive student information.”

From the National Association of State Boards of Education: “Policymaking on Education Data Privacy: Lessons Learned.”

“There Are Some Super Shady Things in Oculus Rift’s Terms of Service,” says Gizmodo.

Elsewhere in shady Terms of Service: Character Lab, software out of Angela Duckworth’s lab that can be used to assess “grit.”

Via Education Week: “A coalition of groups, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the FBI on Tuesday to dismantle its ‘Don’t Be a Puppet’ website, which the agency created to educate youth about violent extremism but has been criticized as targeting American Muslims and encouraging the policing of thoughts in schools.”

Data and “Research”


By me: “The Blockchain for Education: An Introduction.”

“Taking High School Courses In College Costs Students And Families Nearly $1.5 Billion,” reports NPR’s Anya Kamenetz.

In other research-related news about remediation, “Two studies show successful pass rates from Tennessee’s first full semester of putting all developmental students in college-level courses,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

“Nearly Half of Students Are Open to Free-Speech Restrictions on Campuses, Survey Finds,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Via The New York Times: “Students Say Free Speech Is Alive, With One Big Exception.”

Via NPR’s Anya Kamanetz: “Research Finds Poor Outcomes For Students Who Retake Courses Online.”

The research of now-discredited UCLA grad student Michael LaCour is back in the news. That’s because the two grad students from Berkeley who “sank a bogus canvassing study have replicated some of its findings,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. LaCour’s paper said that short conversations with door-to-door canvassers could change people’s minds on gay marriage.

Research from Seton Hall’s Robert Kelchen: “When States Tie Money to Colleges’ Performance, Low-Income Students May Suffer.”

Via The Wall Street Journal: “More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “The system for funding American flagship public universities is ‘gradually breaking down,’ said Robert J. Birgeneau, a former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, and the co-chair of a two-year project to examine the role of public research universities and recommend changes to help them stay competitive.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “American universities awarded 54,070 research doctorates in 2014, the highest total in the 58 years that the National Science Foundation has sponsored the Survey of Earned Doctorates, a new edition of which was released Friday.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A memo from Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic finds that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had the authority to protect veterans from institutions that use deceptive recruiting practices by denying GI Bill funds to those colleges. But the VA and other state approving agencies have failed to do so.”

Via Mindshift: “Depression in the Home Can Significantly Impact Kids’ Grades.”

Via Education Week: “U.S. Adults Perform Below Global Peers in Tech, Numeracy, Study Finds.” That study is by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “More Professors Say Undergraduates Need to Hone Research Abilities, Survey Finds.” Bryan Alexander also examines the Ithaka S+R survey results.

“Website Seeks to Make Government Data Easier to Sift Through,” says The New York Times. The website in question – a project from the MIT Media Lab: Data USA.

Via Education Dive: “Despite lack of scientific evidence, Ban Wi-Fi movement persists.”

Survey by educational game maker finds half of educators use games in the classroom.

Survey from school networking organization finds that school networking is a top priority for school leaders.

Survey by security camera maker finds more than half of adults want security cameras in schools.

Survey by digital content provider finds that 80% of schools use digital content.

Survey by digital education content farm finds school districts are “going digital.”

Students use “cheat sheets,” according to “research” from an online proctoring company.

“EduStar Platform Promises Quick, Randomized Ed-Tech Trials,” says Education Week.

Is Addiction a Learning Disorder?” asks Dana Goldstein in her review of a book by Maia Szalavitz, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction.

A report from the GAO on libraries’ access to those with disabilities finds that “Additional Steps Needed to Ease Access to Services and Modernize Technology.”

Via Gawker: “More Than One Medical Student At UVA Believes Black People Don’t Feel Pain.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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