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Education Politics


Education Department Proposes New Regulations to Protect Students and Taxpayers from Predatory Institutions.”

From the Times Higher Education by way of Inside Higher Ed: “Poll of faculty members and administrators in British higher education finds they want their country to remain in E.U.

Via The Clarion-Ledger: “Contracts between the Mississippi Department of Education and two of the state superintendent’s former co-workers appear to duplicate technology-related services while costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Via The Fresno Bee: “Former Clovis Unified School District superintendent and popular Fresno-area education consultant Terry Bradley was censured and fined by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly sharing five school districts’ private information with an advisory company while it was negotiating for the districts’ contracts.”

Via the AP: “Michelle Obama plans to promote her year-old global girls’ education initiative during upcoming stops in Liberia, Morocco and Spain on what could be her final solo overseas excursion as first lady.” (Hmm. Isn’t Liberia outsourcing its education system to a Gates and Zuckerberg-backed startup, Bridge International Academies? Incidentally, there was a story that’s pro-outsourcing in The New York Times this week.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The service the U.S. Education Department provides to student loan borrowers is ‘poor’ in several areas and needs significant improvement, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report Wednesday.”

Via the AP: “Gov. John Bel Edwards has agreed to a mandate that cursive writing must be taught in Louisiana’s public school classrooms.”

More on the politics of accreditation in the accreditation section below. And more on the politics of testing in the testing section below.

Education in the Courts


The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled this week that “High-speed internet service can be defined as a utility,” affirming the FCC’s position on “net neutrality.”

Via Politico: “Trump steps up fight to keep Trump University deposition videos secret.”

Via The Atlantic: “Alabama House Speaker Michael Hubbard was automatically removed from office Friday after a jury convicted him on 12 felony public-corruption charges, adding to the state’s extraordinary political crisis.” I haven’t seen the ed-tech press cover this story, even though one of the charges he faced involved a contract with the ed-tech company Edgenuity. So odd.

Via The Washington Post: “Former U-Va. law student files suit challenging federal sexual assault directive.” “John Doe” was accused of and found responsible for sexual misconduct and now is claiming that how universities handle these sorts of charges is unfair and unlawful.

Via The Daily Beast: “The family of a black sixth grader in Texas is suing her school after white students allegedly wrapped a rope around her neck and pulled her to the ground. The $3-million lawsuit accuses Live Oak Classical School in Waco of negligence, gross negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Via The Boston Globe: “Back Bay academy sues Springfield school over the name ‘Commonwealth’.” The former, The Commonwealth School, charges $40,000 a year in tuition; the latter, Commonwealth Academy, is a school for “underprivileged students.”

“Former Lake Michigan College President Jennifer Spielvogel is suing LMC and its Board of Trustees for alleged wrongful termination,” The Herald-Palladium reports.

“A Swedish college has been ordered to refund tuition fees to an American business student for giving her a poor economics education,” the AP reports. “The Vastmanland court ruled Tuesday the Malardalen University’s two-year program ‘Analytical Finance’ that Connie Askenback attended from 2011 to 2013 ‘had no practical value.’”

More on court cases in the sports and testing sections below.

Testing, Testing…


Alaska Legislature Passes Bill to Suspend Standardized Testing,” Education Week reports.

Via WaPo: “Leaked ACT college admissions test canceled hours before students were to take it.”

Via The Dallas Morning News: “As schools continue to get incorrect STAAR results, officials demand that vendor step up scrutiny.”

Via the AP: “2 ex-El Paso schools administrators guilty in testing scam.”

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)


Via The Hechinger Report: “Virtual charter schools need ‘bold action’ for change, says national charter school advocacy group.” The organization is worried that virtual schools – pretty much utter failures – are giving charters a bad rap.

Headline changed from “Coursera’s Update Will Eliminate Hundreds of Courses” to “Coursera’s Update Will Migrate Hundreds of Courses to a New Platform.” Coursera, initially only emailing former students about their old course work, decided finally to blog about its platform change.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Same Time, Many Locations: Online Education Goes Back to Its Origins.” “Like it’s a TV show.”

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


“Should for-profit crash courses get federal funds?” asks The Economist in an article about coding bootcamps. I mean, for-profit higher ed has such a stellar track record. What could possibly go wrong?

For-profit higher ed company Education Management Corp says it will close 22 out of 26 of its Brown Mackie College locations.

Via The New York Times: “Woes for ITT, a For-Profit School, Bode Worse for Its Students.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “For-profit institutions that cater to service members see chance to connect with students in Senate-passed provision expanding access on military bases.”

The US DOE’s sunk costs into for-profit colleges” by “mathbabe” Cathy O’Neil.

Obama’s Missed Chance to Help For-Profit College Students” by Ann Larson.

Some solidly uncritical PR posing as journalism in this lede: “Coding bootcamps play a key role in closing the skills gap between the talent companies need and the competencies workers have.” The coding bootcamp Fullstack Academy is launching an investment fund to support its graduates who want to start startups. Always read the fine print, folks. Always read the fine print. And substitute “for-profit higher ed” for “coding bootcamp” as necessary.

More on for-profit higher ed in the accreditation section below.

Meanwhile on Ye Olde Brick and Mortar Campus


From the press release: “Achieving the Dream Launches Major National Initiative to Help 38 Community Colleges in 13 States Develop New Degree Programs Using Open Educational Resources.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The New York Times: “Moving to Make Amends, Georgetown President Meets With Descendant of Slaves.”

Via the Detroit Free Press: “Wayne State drops math as general ed requirement.”

A follow-up on Dowling College, which may or may not be closing: “Why a Global Education Company Thinks It Can Revive Struggling Dowling College.”

Accreditation and Certification


The Department of Education announced this week that it has “recommended that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (or ACICS) should no longer be recognized by the Department as an agency that can provide schools with an accreditation that makes them eligible for participation in federal aid.” Via Buzzfeed: “Education Department Pushes To Terminate College Watchdog.” Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Call to Shut Down a Controversial Accreditor Could Shake For-Profit Higher Ed.” Via The Pacific Standard: “Higher Education’s Accreditation Problem.”

Paine College Accreditation to Be Revoked,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Go, School Sports Team!


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A ‘Sports University’ Gives Student-Athletes a Chance to Play but Outsources Their Education.” What could go wrong?!

Via Boing Boing: “Anonymous source: Stanford pressured female swim team members not to tell judge about Brock Turner’s creepy behavior.”

From the HR Department

“One answer to Utah’s teacher shortage,” says The Salt Lake Tribune, “hire people who aren’t teachers.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Santa J. Ono, the University of Cincinnati’s president, has been named the next president of the University of British Columbia.”

Kickboard Looking for New CEO,” Edsurge reports. Jen Medbery, also the startup's founder, says she's not leaving the company.

Via Education Week: “Virginia B. Edwards, who as the editor of Education Week since 1989 and president of its parent organization since 1997 led the transformation of a specialty newspaper into a force in web news, education research and events, and, most recently, video journalism, will step down at the end of July.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Green River College’s President Resigns Amid Faculty Protests and Budget Cuts.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart has opted not to pursue an extension of her current contract, a decision coming months after she drew flak for deciding to join the board of for-profit college company DeVry Education Group.”

Preschool Teachers Earn Less Than Tree Trimmers,” The Atlantic laments.

Upgrades and Downgrades


ALEX Wants to Fill Classrooms Like Airbnb Fills Beds” is an actual headline, and apparently ALEX is an actual startup.

The Top 10 Companies Working on Education in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.” This one’s definitely my favorite: “Lecture VR is a VR app … which simulates a lecture hall in virtual reality.”

“We Shut Down Our Edtech Startup. Here’s What We Learned” by Jawwad Siddiqui, founder of SharpScholar.

Anil Dash and Gina Trapani announced they’re closing down their social media analytics product ThinkUp. It’s not an ed-tech startup, true, but it’s important to look at why they say that this beloved product had become unsustainable. That is, major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter increasingly made it difficult for ThinkUp to work with their APIs. Who owns your data – whether it’s social media or school-related?

From Phil Hill: “Update on UC Davis LMS Fiasco: Finishing the term with two partial systems.” e-Literate also posted a student’s take on the school’s LMS outage.

Sakai Is Probably Healthier Than You Think,” Michael Feldstein suggests.

Inside Higher Ed has a story on Amazon’s employee training program, once again using the phrase “open source” even though this has nothing to do with open source. Nice branding move from Amazon, who seemingly wants to openwash all the things.

Can Michael Horn write a story without using the phrase “disruption innovation?

Via Apple: “Swift Playgrounds App Makes Learning to Code Easy & Fun.” Via Techcrunch: “Meet Box Island, a new iOS game that aims to teach kids the fundamentals of code.” Via the Hechinger Report: “Can a wall-climbing robot teach your kid to code?” Can people please read Seymour Papert before launching their learn-to-code product and/or writing PR for it?

Not education-related per se, but as I’m closely monitoring both the student loan and the blockchain hoopla as ed-tech trends – that is, all the investments investments and all the PR – I’ll drop this here. From the MIT Media Lab’s Joi Ito: “The Fintech Bubble.” Meanwhile, here’s The Wall Street Journal: “Companies Answer the Call on Student Debt.”

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)


Andela has raised $24 million for code school, based in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya. Investors in this round were the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, CRE Venture Capital, Learn Capital, Omidyar Network, Google Ventures, and Spark Capital. The company has raised $41 million total. (I would love to see the curriculum for these courses.)

Private school startup Klay Schools has raised $16 million from Peepul Capital and Kaizen Private Equity.

Flocabulary has raised $1.5 million in convertible note funding from Rethink Education.

Sokanu has raised an undisclosed sum from USA Funds for its psychometrics-as-career-matching service.

Here’s how Edsurge frames the funding news about EdTechReview, which it suggests might be its “Indian twin”: “ In India, EdTechReview has raised ‘an undisclosed amount of funding in its pre-Series A round from EVC Ventures,’ according to YourStory. The Delhi-based startup currently offers news, reports, product reviews and plans to run a jobs board and conferences across the country. Hmm...sound familiar?” Um, yes, it sounds like Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, ASCD, Inside Higher Ed, ISTE, EduKwest, Make Magazine, CourseTalk and/or many, many, many other education organizations and publications, although to be fair not all of these take venture funding to promote ed-tech products.

Homework help site (or if you prefer the company’s branding “social learning platform”) Brainly has acquired OpenStudy for an undisclosed sum.

City & Guilds has acquired Digitalme and Makewaves in order to form a new digital credentialing business, Doug Belshaw reports. More via Digitalme’s Tim Riches.

There hadn’t been any education IPOs this year until China Online Education Group’s this week. The stock’s now trading at $20.26 a share.

Microsoft announced it would make its largest acquisition ever, buying LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Hot takes on the acquisition (and what it means for the future of education and/or work): “Why LinkedIn Will Make You Hate Microsoft Word.” The Udacity blog weighs in because this has implications, apparently, for nanodegree career readiness. Edsurge weighs in but doesn’t say much. IHE’s Joshua Kim weighs in, also not really offering a lot of analysis but still hopeful that Microsoft will someday buy Coursera. (I predict it’ll be Amazon because of that openwashing thing I mentioned earlier.) In other Microsoft news: “The First Big Company to Say It’s Serving the Legal Marijuana Trade? Microsoft.”

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance


Some Observations on Kahoot!” by Bill Fitzgerald. The company was profiled by The New York Times earlier this year, but Fitzgerald looks closely at privacy issues that weren’t really addressed in that story.

University of Calgary pays ransom after attack on computer systems,” The Globe and Mail reports.

Via Edsurge: “Preparing Schools for Ransomware – the Next Big Threat to Education.”

Data and “Research”


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Facebook Reveals How It Decides if a Research Project Is Ethical.”

The Online Learning Consortium finds students prefer online learning (contrary to other surveys that find they do not. Weird).

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Knowing how often college students log onto learning management software is one of the best ways to predict whether they will stick with their studies or drop out.” Via Education Dive: “Is predictive analytics a step too far in student assistance?

Could student loan repayment models from other countries work in the United States?

Are effective retention strategies dependent upon ed tech?

Is the answer to a headline in the form of a question always “no”?

“U.S., Global K–12 Markets for Personal Computing Devices Slow,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief, drawing on research from Futuresource Consulting. Funnily enough, a different research firm has a different prediction: “Global classroom wearables technology to grow,” says ECampusNews, drawing on research from Research and Markets.

Via Salon: “It’s official – *the internet is making us dumb*: The more you read online, the worse you write.” No, Salon. You’re dumb.

Report: California public colleges not producing enough STEM degrees.”

Half of teachers comfortable with tech, but most use it for testing.” Ed-tech uber alles.

Hot takes on soft skills from the guys at Education Next: “Time to Flit the Grit” by Russ Whitehurst. “Russ Whitehurst Throws Cold Water on the Grit Craze, But Is the Water Too Cold?” by Jay Greene. “What ‘Hamilton’ and Its 11 Tonys Say About Grit and Privilege” by Andy Smarick.

From a press release from the University of Leicester: “Who’s the best-equipped superhero? Student research settles ‘superpower showdown.’” But which superhero has the most grit, Education Next?

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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