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Education Politics


Spending Bill Could Revive Year-Round Pell Grants.”

Via The Chicago Sun Times: “A private foundation started by the late Walmart mogul Sam Walton and his wife has contributed heavily to the Illinois State Charter School Commission and to two charter operators whose schools the state agency has blocked the Chicago Board of Education from closing over poor student performance, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.”

Via the San Jose Mercury News: “A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling for a state audit of a profitable but low-performing network of online charter schools following this newspaper’s investigation of K12 Inc., the Virginia company at the heart of the operation.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has signed into law a measure that requires the state’s public colleges and universities to publish reports of conduct violations involving alcohol, drugs, sexual assault, and hazing at fraternities and sororities.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Historically black universities have been dropped from a controversial North Carolina bill slashing tuition at certain institutions to $500, but worries about the legislation’s effects remain high at two universities still facing tuition cuts – and across the state system.”

Via DelawareOnline: “The first step to reducing violence among young people is to have police officers assigned to elementary and middle schools, says a coalition of state officials, education administrators and police.” Ugh. No.

Presidential Campaign Politics


I guess we have our “presumptive nominees” now from the two major political parties. And now, onward, with 5 more months of presidential campaigning. Ugh.

A must-read on Trump University from Ars Technica: “Trump University and the art of the get-rich seminar.” Here are some reading suggestions from ProPublica: “The Absolute Best, Most Terrific Reporting on Trump University.” And the latest on the court case/Trump University scandal: Via NPR: “Texas Governor Linked To Trump University Fraud Case.” See also, via The Texas Tribune: “In Texas, Trump U Shut Down After State Scrutiny.” Via the AP: “Florida AG asked Trump for donation before nixing fraud case.”

Education in the Courts


Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker.” Note the page views: over 15 million.

Light Sentence for Brock Turner in Stanford Rape Case Draws Outrage.” Also via The New York Times: “Judge Aaron Persky Under Fire for Sentencing in Stanford Rape Case.”

Worcester Polytechnic Institute is being sued by a student who was raped by a security guard at a building where she and other WPI students lived in Puerto Rico while on a research program,” Inside Higher Ed reports. WPI blames the victim.

Here’s the EdWeek headline: “Company Exec. for Ed-Tech Company Testifies in Ala. Politician’s Trial.” The details: “Michael Humphrey, executive vice president at Edgenuity, testified in the ethics trial of state House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who is accused in a 23-count indictment of using his clout to attract business for companies he leads. Humphrey testified that he hired Hubbard on a $7,500-per-month consulting contract to connect him to legislative leaders in other states, as Edgenuity tried to sell digital courses.” Gee, good thing no one else in ed-tech is in the business of selling these sorts of connections between companies and politicians and schools!

Via Politico: “A federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina Tuesday declined a request by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory to move his lawsuit against the Obama administration and its staunch defense of transgender student rights under Title IX to the state’s Middle District court. The motion to move the case wasn’t opposed by the Justice Department, which is countersuing McCrory in the state’s Middle District. But Judge Terrence Boyle in the Eastern District said McCrory’s lawsuit is in the right place – the Eastern District is ‘the site of the state capitol and where the legislature and governor reside and act,’ he said in an order. The order pretty much guarantees that there will be a two-front battle over North Carolina’s so-called ‘bathroom law’ in two separate federal district courts. Both cases are going before judges who are generally considered conservative.”

More on lawsuits in the sports section below and the poop emoji section above.

Testing, Testing…


“This is the most racist math test you’ll ever see,” says Vox.

Via The New York Times: “China Threatens Jail Time for College Entrance Exam Cheaters.”

Ohio State Accuses 85 Students of Cheating on Online Tests,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via The Texas Tribune: “A high-performing West Austin school district says it was told the state’s new testing vendor misplaced some or all of the STAAR exams its 3rd through 8th graders took this spring. But New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service says that’s not true.” ETS says it hasn’t lost the tests. It just doesn’t have them yet.

ETS says it will discourage graduate departments from relying too much on GRE scores.

According to EdSource, parents in California will receive “easier-to-read” reports on their children’s Smarter Balanced test scores.

Columbia Drops SAT Subject Tests Requirement,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

According to the conservative news site The Daily Caller, “Bailing On Common Core Tests Is Costing States Millions.”

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)


Remember Richard McKenzie? He was an instructor in one of several high-profile Coursera failures back in 2013. (Here’s The Chronicle headline from then: “Professor Leaves a MOOC in Mid-Course in Dispute Over Teaching.”) Great reporting this week from Steve Kolowich on the UC Irvine professor’s run-in with the MOOC machine: “After the Gold Rush: MOOCs, money, and the education of Richard McKenzie.”

Reuters reports that “Online education firm Udacity looks beyond tech sector.” From the story: “Online education company Udacity plans to branch out of its core technology market to meet growing demand for digitally-skilled workers in areas such as banking and the car industry, its co-founder told Reuters as the company launched in Germany.”

“Should Your Online Course Sound Like ‘Serial’?” asks Edsurge. I’m not sure what this means as the article talks about both “authenticity” (whatever that is) and the gender of instructors on various MOOC platforms.

Good thing I never did anything in those MOOCs, otherwise I'd be losing my work.

Career and Technical Education, Coding Bootcamps, and The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, a group representing for-profit colleges and universities, is once again changing its name, it announced on Monday. Now the group will be called Career Education Colleges and Universities, to reflect its focus on career training.” Here’s the organization’s press release, announcing the rebranding.

Another for-profit chain on the brink? “Education Department Orders ITT Educational to Bolster Finances,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Via the IndyStar: “The Carmel company that runs the ITT Technical Institute chain of for-profit colleges has yet to decide how it will respond to a new federal requirement that it set aside extra money to protect students in case it collapses.” “Could intense federal scrutiny lead to ITT’s collapse?” asks Education Dive.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “For-profit Ashford University, facing loss of access to GI Bill benefits by month’s end, needs approval from a state to stop thousands of student veterans from losing aid.”

Also via Inside Higher Ed: “American Career Institute, a now-closed for-profit institution that operated in Massachusetts and Maryland, admitted to engaging in deceptive schemes and violating state law, according to the state’s attorney general.”

More on for-profits in the accreditation section below.

Meanwhile on (Traditional?) Campuses


Inside the largest charter school theft in Georgia history.”

When you’re 21 and this is your second campus shooting.”

Via The New York Times: “Where Nearly Half of Pupils Are Homeless, School Aims to Be Teacher, Therapist, Even Santa.”

Dowling College is closing. No. Wait. “Dowling College to Remain Open for Now,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The New York Times: “On Eve of Graduation, University of Chicago Student President Faces Expulsion.” (He was among protesters calling for a living wage for campus workers.)

Also via The New York Times: “Indian Students Lured by Recruiters Asked to Leave University.” (That is, Western Kentucky University, which aggressively recruited international students.)

Via NPR: “The One-Room Schoolhouse That’s A Model For The World.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Free Year of Community College at Folsom Lake.”

Contrasting community college takes: a Pearson op-ed in Edsurge versus pretty much anything “Dean Dad” writes.

Via The Washington Post: “Teach for America retools efforts to recruit graduates from top colleges.”

Accreditation and Certification


Senator Elizabeth Warren says that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools has a “long record of failure” and urges that the “glaring lack of oversight” that the accrediting body has had for for-profit universities warrants federal scrutiny.

The Center for American Progress also slammed the ACICS in a report issued this week.

Via Buzzfeed: “Watchdog Let $6 Billion In Federal Funds Go To Colleges Under Government Investigation.” ACICS is clearly a terrible watchdog.

“Accreditor of For-profit Colleges Agrees It Needs a Makeover,” says ProPublica. ACICS is freezing new membership, which is a start, I guess?

Go, School Sports Team!


Via the Los Angeles Daily News: “El Camino High principal moonlighted as NBA scout, billed travel to school.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A former captain of Yale University’s men’s basketball team is suing the university in federal court over its decision to expel him in February after he was accused of sexual assault by another student.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study, published in the Academy of Management Journal, suggests that when ‘high-reputation’ institutions – colleges and universities ranked among the top 50 institutions by U.S. News & World Report – run afoul of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, they actually see an initial increase in support from alumni. But that surge in alumni support declines as a program racks up more violations, and nonalumni are less likely to donate after even a single infraction.” Go team.

From the HR Department


Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has joined the Board of Directors of the skills training company Pluralsight. (He’s also a VC at the Emerson Collective, an investment firm run by Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs.)

Adjuncts at McDaniel College have voted to unionize.

Via The Chicago Sun Times: “City Colleges chief to end stormy six-year run with long goodbye.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “George Washington U.’s President to Step Down Next Year.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “Some surprising reasons companies are rushing to help their workers get degrees.”

Upgrades and Downgrades


Microsoft has released an early access version of its Minecraft: Education Edition. While it’s free for the summer, the official release in the fall will cost between $1 and $5 per user. From Dean Groom: “Why not to buy Minecraft Education Edition.”

In other Microsoft/Minecraft news, the company will donate $10,000 to the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics to build a Minecraft Lab at a local school. That doesn’t seem like much money if you’re selling access to your students as a “case study” for a tech company. But hey. Minecraft.

Via The New York Times on Tim Berners Lee’s latest: “The Web’s Creator Looks to Reinvent It.”

From the press release: “Learning Machine and MIT Media Lab Release Blockchain Technology for Educational Credentials.”

It’s not ed-tech, but you know some enterprising person will come up with an education application (maybe Class Dojo?): “Waking up with Pavlok’s wrist-shocking wearable alarm clock.”

Also not education per se, but I’m including it here as his stunt was a copy of activism undertaken by Rolling Jubilee to erase student loan debt: “For His Latest Trick, John Oliver Forgives $15 Million in Medical Debt.” Kudos. But… A response from the Debt Collective: “Who’s Afraid of Occupy? The John Oliver Show Erases Debt Resistance.”

Chicago-based startup The Graide Network lets teachers outsource grading via a marketplace for “on demand teaching assistants.” Sounds totally legit and not at all like a FERPA or HR violation. Details on the startup via ChicagoInno.

Tinder discontinues service for users under 18,” Techcrunch reports.

Via the BBC: “Tutoring is one the world’s oldest professions, but even a vocation so entrenched cannot escape the rising ‘Uberisation’ of daily life.” Blech.

"Gates Foundation failures show philanthropists shouldn’t be setting America’s public school agenda," says The LA Times, which has been pretty happy to go along with that agenda.

Dan Meyer writes “Why Secondary Teachers Don’t Want a GitHub for Lesson Plans,” in a response to Chris Lusto who suggests that we do (or at least “We need GitHub for math curriculum.”) Lots of comments on these posts about lesson sharing sites, about the value of creating one’s own course materials, and about what GitHub can and cannot do.

“A psychology instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University says he was forced to choose between his principles and the wishes of his publisher as part of a disagreement about the textbook industry and the role of open educational resources,” Inside Higher Ed reports in a story of how Rajiv S. Jhangiani withdrew a chapter from the anthology Thematic Approaches for Teaching Introductory Psychology.

Winnie is a new mobile app that, according to Techcrunch, “helps parents find family-friendly places, share their experiences.”

Via the press release: “Amazon to Open New Pickup Location Near Texas Tech University.”

Lifeliqe debuts VR-enabled educational content to keep kids interested in learning,” says Techcrunch. “Debut” is really not the right verb as it’s not actually released a product yet. Oh VR promises. Never change.

The New York Times on “The Challenges of Closing the Digital Divide.”

Manufacturing’s return creates greater need from higher ed” is some A+ spin from Education Dive and The Wall Street Journal.

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)


ABA English has raised $13.7 million for English-language instruction videos. The Crunchbase description makes it sound a little more exciting, I guess: the startup has “a unique teaching methodology and uses its own proprietary technology.” It has raised $15.36 million total.

ApprenNet has raised $4 million in Series A funding from City Light Capital, Social Capital, 1776, and Jefferson Education. The video learning company has previously raised $1.57 million. This investment will go towards marketing, including a name change to Practice XYZ.

Cuemath has raised $4 million from Sequoia India and Unitus Seed Fund for its math tutoring centers.

Citelighter has raised $2.1 million in a convertible note from New York Angels, Baltimore Angels, and Harvard Business School Angels. The startup has raised $6.55 million total.

Video game company Triseum has raised $1.43 million from an undisclosed set of investors.

Code Kingdoms has raised $1.4 million from Initial Capital, SparkLabs Global, Charles Mindenhall, and Manoj Badale. The startup, which offers Minecraft tutorials, has raised $1.8 million total.

Tutoring startup Preply has raised $1.3 million in seed funding from Arthur Kosten, RTAventures, and Mariusz Gralewski.

Fishtree has received an undisclosed amount of investment from Jefferson Education. Up ’til now, the “personalized lesson” company has raised $3 million.

FoxConn will acquire SMART for $4.50 a share, according to a press release from the smartboard maker.

PowerSchool has acquired the LMS Haiku Learning for an undisclosed sum.

Levine Leichtman Capital Partners has acquired testing company GL Education for an undisclosed sum.

Amplify Slims Down and Spins Off Assessment Content Provider, Fluence,” says Edsurge.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance


Via eSchool News: “How hackers held a district hostage for almost $10,000.” Hackers, man. (Related: “Companies Are Stockpiling Bitcoin to Pay Off Cybercriminals.” Well, perhaps they could trade some blockchained school certificates too. I hear those are super valuable.)

Via Mindshift: “What’s At Risk When Schools Focus Too Much on Student Data?”

Data and “Research”


Education Week has released its annual report “Technology Counts.”

The Atlantic on online program management: “How Companies Profit Off Education at Nonprofit Schools.” Via Phil Hill: “Online Program Management: A view of the market landscape.”

Data from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on “The Troubled Academic Job Market for Humanities.”

From a Department of Education press release: “New Data Show Chronic Absenteeism is Widespread and Prevalent Among All Student Groups.”

Via Education Week: “New federal data show a continuing deep gulf between the educational experiences of traditionally disadvantaged student groups and their peers on a broad range of indicators, findings that follow years of efforts by government and advocacy groups to level the playing field in U.S. public schools.”

Via Slate’s Sarah Carr: “For the first time, there are more students of color than white students in our public schools. How we confront this change will determine the fate of this generation – and the country.”

“How does philanthropy drive the research agenda in higher ed?” asks Education Dive.

Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google Are Fighting a War for the Classroom,” says Edutechnica, with a look at how many colleges have adopted their competing pseudo-LMSes.

The latest claims about “mindsets”: the mindset of a college president; the maker mindset.

Via Edsurge: “Chasing China’s Edtech Unicorns: A Cautionary Tale.”

“Foreign Students Seen Cheating More Than Domestic Ones,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Seen” cheating.

Via CB Insights: “Ed Tech 101: Investors And Corporate Execs Sound Off On Ed Tech Disruption.” Depressingly terrible soundbites.

“This chart tells a fascinating story about higher education,” says The Washington Post. (It’s a Gates Foundation chart with “America as 100 college students.” What’s fascinating to me about these sorts of charts is they sorta assume readers don’t understand the concept of percentages.)

Via Education Week: “Common Core, College Readiness Skills Don’t Match Up, Study Says.”

Via The Atlantic: “Homework Inequality: The Value of Having a Parent Around After School.”

Stanford University’s Larry Cuban on “Proof Points: Selling and Marketing ‘Blended Learning’ to Educators and Parents.”

Adaptive Learning Earns an Incomplete,” says Michael Feldstein in a Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed about recent SRI Education research on the technology that shows adaptive learning software doesn’t really make much of a difference on students’ grades. You wouldn’t guess that there are any questions about the efficacy of adaptive learning based on headlines based on recent research about Dreambox Learning: “Customized math lessons could help students learn more, research says,” according to The Hechinger Report. “Harvard Finds That DreamBox Learning Improves Math Test Scores,” according to Edsurge.

Via Daniel Willingham: “Media multitasking and cognition in teens – new data.”

From Lumen Learning’s David Wiley: “Some Lessons Learned Supporting OER Adoption.”

A new research report from the Shanker Institute looks at whether or not public schools are inefficient.

The One Question Most Americans Get Wrong About College Graduates.”

According to marketing research by the International Data Corporation, “Tablets will see a decline, then increase in 2018.” I can’t seem to find out how much the IDC will charge you to see the data behind this claim. But hey. The business of selling ed-tech data seems to also be a thriving market.

RIP educational psychologist Jerome Bruner, who passed away this week at age 100. Remembrances from Education Week, The Atlantic, and Brain Pickings.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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