Education Politics

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. Statement on the Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.” Via The Atlantic: “The Challenge of Educational Inequality.”

Via NPR: “The U.S. Education Department said this week it will make Pell Grants available to 10,000 high school students who are enrolled in courses at 44 colleges.”

Via PBS Newshour: “GOP reinstates usage of ‘illegal alien’ in Library of Congress’ records.” The total jerk move will force the LOC to use the phrase in lieu of less prejudicial terms like “noncitizen.”

Why Free School Lunches Might Be Harder To Get Soon.” The explanation for this jerk move is pretty much same as above: The GOP.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “UNC Tuition for $500? State Lawmakers Consider the Possibility at 5 Campuses.” Here’s how Inside Higher Ed describes the proposal: “Fears for Future of UNC Black Colleges. Republican lawmakers back bill that would substantially cut tuition and revenue, and seek more student diversity, at five system campuses, four of which are minority-serving institutions.”

Colorado Education Commissioner Rich Crandall announced his resignation Thursday just four-and-a-half months into the job, shocking the state’s education community and roiling the state Department of Education as it embarks on a number of critical initiatives,” Chalkbeat Colorado reports.

Via NPR: “Wyoming School District Stalls On Transgender Student Policy.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Professors at Illinois colleges and universities spoke out this week in interviews with The News-Gazette against Gov. Bruce V. Rauner’s nominee to the faculty seat on the Illinois Board of Higher Education.” (That nominee is not a faculty member, for starters.)

Perhaps this should go in the “research” section below. “The UK government has published its 2016 HE White Paper, entitled Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice,” the Times Higher Education reports. For what it’s worth, Richard Hall’s response makes for better reading than the white paper itself. And The Next Web headline makes for… something: “Facebook and Google could be allowed to award university degrees.”

Presidential Campaign Politics

Donald Trump wants to end “gun-free zones” in schools.

For the latest on the Trump University lawsuit, see the “legal” section below.

Education in the Courts

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Trump University Can Take Fraud Case to New York's Highest Court, Judge Rules. Ruling will likely delay trial until after November presidential election, representing victory for presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.”

Via The New York Times: “A federal court has ordered a town in Mississippi to desegregate its high schools and middle schools, ending a five-decade legal battle over integrating black and white students. The ruling by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, made Friday but announced Monday, means the middle and high school programs in the Cleveland School District, in the western part of the state, will be combined for the first time in their century-long history.”

“Two lawsuits by 890 students and alumni in the U.S. accuse Google of failing to gain their consent before scanning their emails via its Apps For Education suite for advertising purposes,” says Education Dive.

Via The Verge: “Lawsuit claims Facebook illegally scanned private messages.” The lawsuit contends that, doing so, Facebook has violated both the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California Invasion of Privacy Act.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A state judge has ruled that Gov. Matthew G. Bevin of Kentucky can cut the budgets of public colleges and universities without the state legislature’s approval.”

Also via The Chronicle: “Supreme Court Declines to Rule on Religious Colleges’ Contraception Case.”

“The Texas Supreme Court rejected arguments on Friday by a coalition of 600-plus districts that the ‘Robin Hood’ school funding system, in which wealthy districts share local property tax revenue with those in poorer areas, was unconstitutional,” The New York Times reports.

Apollo Education Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix and Western International University, announced Thursday that it would eliminate the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in students’ enrollment agreements,” Inside Higher Ed reports. These clauses prevent students from suing.

Hail and Farewell to The Google Books Case” by James Grimmelmann.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: Althea Hylton-Lindsay, a “professor at William Paterson University of New Jersey has been awarded a total of more than $2 million in damages after a jury found that the college harassed and discriminated against her because of her race and religion.”

Testing, Testing…

The ACT and SAT disagree on how scores on their respective tests compare.

Pearson gets emergency test scoring contract from Tennessee,” Chalkbeat reports.

Also via Chalkbeat: “Black and white students score far apart on a new test of technology skills.” Here’s the WaPo headline: “Girls outscore boys on inaugural national test of technology, engineering skills.”

Via NPR: “Paying Students May Raise Test Scores, But The Lesson Is Not Over.”

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

The New York Times on The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online charter school: “Online School Enriches Affiliated Companies if Not Its Students.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The online program management company 2U is hoping to take some of the risk out of offering degree programs online with an algorithm it says can predict whether the program will be a success for the company and the college.”

Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking on the Masterclass online platform.

Via KNN: “‘’ launched as India’s largest free online open learning platform.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a flurry of these sorts of announcements, but “edX welcomes ITMO University.”

EdX also announced the for-credit courses, part of its Global Freshman Academy partnership with ASU, that are starting this summer.

Via AP: “The University of Iowa says it is investigating whether more than 30 students cheated in online classes by having others take exams for them.”

Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

Via Techcrunch: “Coding school 42 plans to educate 10,000 students in Silicon Valley for free.” Only those between the age of 18 and 30 need apply. There are no teachers. But Techcrunch covered it, so you know it’s legit.

UNC Chapel Hill is launching a coding bootcamp. No word on tuition. No word on if they make you do actual work or if this is another UNC “paper class” thing. I mean, I’m sure this one’s legit too.

Pearson hearts coding bootcamps.

It’s not quite a coding bootcamp story, but NPR takes a look at “career and technical education,” which seems to be back in favor (in some circles at least).

More on for-profit higher ed in the "privacy" section below and the "courts" section above.

Meanwhile on Campus

Burlington College will close its doors, “citing longstanding financial woes,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Here’s a different angle, via The Week: “Burlington College will close due to crushing debt incurred by Bernie Sanders’ wife, Jane Sanders.”

Thomas Pogge, one of the world’s most prominent ethicists, stands accused of manipulating students to gain sexual advantage,” says Buzzfeed in an article about allegations – an “open secret” apparently – about the Yale professor.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Asian-American Groups Accuse Brown, Dartmouth, and Yale of Bias in Admissions.”

George Mason University Firms Up Plan to Name Law School for Scalia.”

Via the NiemanLab: “The Knight Foundation and Columbia University are partnering to launch a new organization focused on First Amendment research and litigation. Knight and Columbia will each commit $5 million in operating funds and $25 million in endowment funds (for an initial total of $60 million) to a new nonprofit affiliated with the university called the First Amendment Institute.”

Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “University of Wisconsin-Madison has suspended the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity through Nov. 1 after an investigation found chapter members repeatedly used racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs, and then ostracized a black member who told them to stop, according to documents released by the university.”

Harvard’s ed school has launched a “major early childhood initiative.”

Ralph Nader declares war on Harvard.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via ESPN: “Police records detail several more violence allegations against Baylor football players.”

Via The Oregonian: “Arguing that the NCAA and the Pac–12 Conference ‘actively concealed’ the ‘debilitating long-term dangers of concussions’ from generations of college football players, lawyers for a former Oregon Ducks football player filed a suit Tuesday that is seeking to reach a class-action status and cover five decades of players.”

Via “Rutgers University has settled a lawsuit with former men’s basketball player Derrick Randall for $300,000. Randall filed the suit in 2013, eight months after the university fired basketball coach Mike Rice’s for mistreating his players.”

“Starting this month, the wealthiest athletic departments have a new tool to help them attract and retain the best athletes – the ability to cover the full cost of summer school for students who are on any form of athletic aid,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The change does raise concerns about equity, according to The Chronicle. Um, not equity for students. Equity among institutions who cannot afford to pay extra scholarship dollars for the best athletes.

From the HR Department


What Obama’s Overtime Rule Could Mean for Colleges.” (Teachers, of course, have long been exempted from overtime.)

“Facing a $26 million shortfall caused by declining enrollment and a decade of budget cuts from state government, Kentucky’s community college system has cut 506 positions, including 170 faculty and staff jobs that were occupied,” the Herald-Ledger reports. Here’s Bryan Alexander on this particular “queen sacrifice.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “AAUP investigation finds that – regardless of what one thinks of Melissa Click’s actions – U of Missouri board endangered academic freedom by firing her without a faculty review.”

More on employment data in the “research and data” section below.

Contests and Awards

A huge congratulations to Cynthia Solomon, who was honored by NCWIT with this year's Pioneer Award. If you’ve never heard of Cynthia Solomon, please leave the ed-tech field now. kkthxbye.

Via Campus Technology: “Udacity has announced a partnership with a ride-sharing service in China to host a $100,000 prize competition to find the best machine learning strategy to improve customer experience.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

It’s not really an “exclusive” when you re-write a Google blog post, but oh well. Here’s Edsurge’s “exclusive” on the news that Android apps will soon be able on Chromebooks. In other news culled from the Google blog: “Introducing Spaces, a tool for small group sharing.” And “Education news from Google I/O: tools to take learning further.”

My explanation as to “Why Big Bird Gave to Reach Capital’s $53 Million Fund” would probably include something about why Sesame Street now premieres on HBO and not on public television: that is, because Sesame Street has lost touch with its mission to serve the nation’s poorest children and instead opted to back the privatization and venture capitalization of education. (And really, “gave to” is a funny verb to use to describe an investment, no? This isn’t charity.) Edsurge, which shares investors now with Sesame Street, has a sunnier explanation of all this, of course.

Edsurge did finally find ed-tech it could criticize this week, so that’s something.

Apple and Maine education officials are allowing school districts to trade in iPads for laptops after teachers and students say the computers are better for schoolwork,” according to The Sun Journal.

The School Library Journal reports that “New York DOE Green Lights Amazon eBook Deal.”

It looks like Luvo (the startup formerly known as Flashnotes) has shut its doors. Hat tip to Kirsten Winkler for catching the “redesign” of the startup’s landing page. The company, which allowed students to buy and sell their class notes, has raised over $14 million.

TorrentFreak reports that “IBM has submitted an application to expand its portfolio with a rather peculiar patent. To protect rightsholders the technology company has invented a printer that doesn’t copy or print any copyright infringing text or images.” A terrible idea – fair use, anyone? – but I bet TurnItIn-loving institutions could be interested.

The New York Times has more on the drama at the VC firm Xfund, which I’m only including here because Harvard.

“For online lenders, it’s suddenly touch-and-go,” says Techcrunch. (Remember what I’ve said: watch the student loan space.)

OpenStax, Knewton introduce adaptive learning into OER.”

Speaking of openwashing: “Pearson CEO Fallon Talks Common Core, Rise of ‘Open’ Resources.”

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

Elsevier has acquired SSRN, an online open access repository. See Roger Schonfeld’s response in The Scholarly Kitchen. Or perhaps this headline is more your flavor: “SSRN has been captured by the enemy of open knowledge.”

KickUp has raised $1.54 million from Reach Capital, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Rittenhouse Ventures, the Jefferson Education Fund, Arcady Bay Partners, and Deborah Quazzo. The company, which runs analytics on teacher PD, previously raised $100,000.

Smartivity has raised $1 million from S Chand & Co. Pvt. Ltd, AdvantEdge Partners, CFG Offshore Holdings, and Tandem Capital. The Indian gaming company has raised $1.2 million total.

ListenCurrent has raised $600,000 in funding from LaunchPad Venture Group, XSquared Angels, and EduLab. The company, which provides public radio and related instructional materials to classrooms, has raised $1.55 million total.

Private equity firm ZMB has made a majority stake investment in Education Networks of America, which provides data services to schools and libraries.

There's some more data on funding, mergers, and acquisition in the "research" section below.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Strayer University Sees Success With Predictive Analytics in Online Learning,” Edsurge contends in an article showcasing how the for-profit Strayer and Civitas Learning track students’ behavioral data.

“It’s time to rethink ethics education,” writes Annette Markham in response to the OKCupid data release fiasco."

Via the MIT Technology Review: “Largest Study of Online Tracking Proves Google Really Is Watching Us All.”

“Are Student Privacy Concerns Holding ‘Hostage’ a Key Education Research Bill?” asks Education Week. “Hostage.” Nice word choice.

Via the WaPo: “Why a staggering number of Americans have stopped using the Internet the way they used to.” (Spoiler alert: privacy concerns.)

From the press release headline: “Enabled by Schools, Students Are Under Constant Surveillance by Marketers.” (It’s actually a report by the National Education Policy Center on commercialism in schools, so perhaps this item, like the one above it, is better suited for the “research” section below.)

More on privacy issues in the “courts” section above.

Data and “Research”

From the NEPC: the Virtual Schools Report 2016.

From IHEP: “Envisioning the National Postsecondary Infrastructure in the 21st Century,” whereby "infrastructure" means collecting and analyzing student data.

From iNACOL: “Promising State Policies for Personalized Learning.”

From Mindwires Consulting: “e-Literate Big Picture: LMS.”

According to Edsurge’s calculations, US startups raised $74 million in venture funding in April. Pay Edsurge money to see the details. Or view my open data repository for free.

According to investment analyst firm CB Insights, “Ed Tech Startup Exits Fall From Peak 2014 Levels.” Meanwhile, the investment bankers Berkery Noyes have released their latest M&A report, calling the education sector “very active.”

Who has the most expensive higher education system for students?asks Tony Bates, as he examines tuition and debt in England. An excerpt from his blog post:

The current Conservative government seems to be ideologically driven towards the privatisation of public education in England. Government funding for universities has been replaced by tuition fees, and the government wants to introduce market competition between schools and also between universities in the belief that this will drive up “quality.” Nevertheless there is no empirical evidence in the UK that shows that students from academies (which are replacing local government-run schools) or institutional competition through tuition pricing in universities is leading to better learning outcomes.

The Conservatives seem to have a completely wrong concept of education, based on set curricula, repeated testing of content, highly selective “weeding out” of students who do not fit this paradigm, and governance by unelected trusts or corporations, a model of education that is clearly influenced by the British public boarding school system from which most of the Conservative government ministers have graduated. The current English education system is in a time warp that seems to belong more to the 1920s than the 2020s.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Education and college financial aid offices need to remove barriers and give more guidance to homeless and foster youth to help them attend and succeed in college, says a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.”

Recycling Poverty, Segregated Schools, and Academic Achievement: Then and Now” by Larry Cuban.

Via the US News & World Report: “The 2016 U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index recorded a slight rise in hiring, education and general interest in technology and engineering over last year, while math education and general interest in science declined. The biggest growth occurred at the graduate level, but despite years of investment in attracting more American students to STEM, that expansion was not homegrown.”

Via The Atlantic: “The Complex Data on Girls in STEM.”

Also via The Atlantic: “Recruitment, Resumes, Interviews: How the Hiring Process Favors Elites.”

“The average age for a child getting their first smartphone is now 10.3 years,” according to a report by Influence Central. Huge caveats here about reading too much into these findings, as it was based on an online survey of 500 women. No mention of socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity.

Via Edsurge: “What a Decade of Education Research Tells Us About Technology in the Hands of Underserved Students.”

Via The Atlantic: “Does Mindfulness Actually Work in Schools?”

Debt Doesn’t Always Hurt Kids,” according to research summarized by The Pacific Standard.

Via the Hechinger Report: “States have cut money for higher education 17 percent since the recession, report finds.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Private Colleges’ Tuition-Discount Rate Hits All-Time High.”

Uncollege has published a report on alternatives to a college degree, “College 2.0,” which opens with this gem: “Not that long ago, there were just three main ways to acquire new skills: go to school, hire a tutor, or get a library card.” So yeah, this definitely sounds like it’s going to be a really well-researched, historically sound report (produced in conjunction with the education search site Noodle and the coding bootcamp Coding Dojo).

The Awl summarizes some recent Pew Research research: “The Sharing Economy Is Only For People Who Can Afford To Not Share.”

This isn’t ed-tech but like many I’ve been keeping a close eye on Theranos, a much-hyped health startup that’s come under scrutiny for its questionable scientific claims. This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company had voided two years of its blood test data. Good thing there’s no one in ed-tech making questionable scientific claims, right?

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

Back to Archives