Education Politics

I watched the results roll in from the Brexit referendum last night with great, great sadness. My mum is British, and I’ve always joked that my British passport is one of my most prized possessions. I am gravely concerned for the future of my youngest family members, who’ve had their futures immeasurably altered by this election. I’m gravely concerned for all our futures frankly, as a xenophobic populism, blended with a neoliberal greed, sweeps the West. I suppose I’ll save the rest of this rant for my newsletter

Via Inside Higher Ed: “British citizens voted on Thursday for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, ushering in a period of uncertainty for universities. The margin was 52 to 48 percent. Many in higher education opposed a British exit, or Brexit, from the union, arguing that membership in the E.U. helps enable international research collaborations and that free movement across member states helps U.K. universities attract top scholars and students.”

Via the BBC (from Monday): “Mexico teachers protest: Six killed in Oaxaca clashes.” Via Democracy Now: “‘The Battle Has Just Started’: Activists Denounce Police Killings & Crackdowns on Teachers in Oaxaca.”

Via inside Higher Ed: “The Obama administration has chosen 67 colleges and universities for a pilot program that will offer Pell Grants to incarcerated students.”

“Schools, Libraries Miss Out on Millions in E-Rate Funds,” according to EdTech Magazine – some $245 million for the 2014 fiscal year.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “With two executive orders, Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky has thrown the leadership and governance of the University of Louisville into chaos. The governor, a Republican elected in 2015, announced on Friday that he had disbanded the university’s current 20-member Board of Trustees. He has put in place a six-member interim board to oversee the institution, with three new appointees and the current faculty, staff, and student representatives.”

President Obama might become a venture capitalist after leaving office. (That’s what former Department of Education folks, Arne Duncan and Jim Shelton, have done. And of course current Undersecretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, is a former VC.) Bonus points if former British PM David Cameron becomes one too.

Presidential Campaign Politics

How Not to Study Donald Trump” – “To make sense of Trumpism, and to put Trump in his historical context, The Chronicle of Higher Education asked a mostly white group of scholars to suggest readings for a syllabus for a mock course in Trump Studies. They returned a syllabus that was all-white in composition – not just in that the primary authors of the books selected contained no people of color but the books themselves largely avoided America's colonial-settler, chattel-slavery, and racist-imperial history.”

Will for-profit higher ed be an election issue? Via Gawker: “The Clintons Have a For-Profit College Problem Of Their Own.” Via Inside Higher Ed: “Fact-Checking Trump Assertion on Clinton For-Profit Ties.”

Education in the Courts

“The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the University of Texas at Austin‘s consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions. Some parts of the decision in the case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, related to features unique to that university,“ Inside Higher Ed reports. It’s an old post, but FiveThirtyEight re-upped it this week in light of the SCOTUS decision: ”Here’s What Happens When You Ban Affirmative Action In College Admissions.“ Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: ”Why Twitter Is Calling Abigail Fisher ’Becky With the Bad Grades’: A Brief Explainer.” Thank goodness for education journalism.

The Supreme Court split 4–4 on the Obama Administration’s immigration reform proposals, “which would have allowed up to 4.5 million immigrants to apply for protection from deportation and work legally in the US.” As Vox reports, “The Court announced Thursday that it was unable to reach a decision in the case United States v. Texas. That means the ruling of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stands – which had kept the programs (known as DAPA and DACA+) from going into effect.” (The decision raises some questions about educational benefits extended to “Dreamers.”)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A superior court judge will decide in August whether the University of California, San Diego, can schedule a new disciplinary hearing for a student accused of cheating five years ago. Last year, a state appeals court ruled that UCSD officials violated the student’s right to due process when they concealed the identity of a critical witness in the case.”

Testing, Testing…

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “These days, everyone’s talking about ‘equity,’ and now a testing company has affixed the word to a new effort. The company behind the ACT on Wednesday announced plans for a Center for Equity in Learning, which will focus on helping underserved students succeed in college and the work force.”

Northwest Evaluation Association To Enter State Assessment Market,” says Education Week.

“Is Estonia the new Finland?” asks The Hechinger Report after looking at the country’s rising PISA scores.

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

From the Coursera blog: “Coursera pilots a new course format.” It’s the format otherwise known as “online education.” “Starting today, we will begin piloting a few courses in which all content is available only to learners who have purchased the course, either directly or by applying for and receiving financial aid.”

More via I Programmer on Coursera’s decision to remove old courses from its platform.

In other Coursera news: “Atlassian sponsors computer science learners on Coursera.”

And via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of State and massive open online course provider Coursera are partnering to launch Coursera for Refugees, a program to offer career training to displaced people around the world. The program will focus on nonprofits that help refugees, which will be able to apply for fee waivers to access the Coursera course catalog.”

Law Schools Are Going Online to Reach New Students,” says The New York Times.

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

From Course Report: “the 2016 Coding Bootcamp Market Size Study.” Among the findings: “In 2016, the sheer number of bootcamp providers has grown to 91, compared to 67 last year.” “Average tuition price of qualifying courses is $11,451, with an average program length of 12.9 weeks. This is compared with averages of $11,063 and 10.8 weeks in 2015.”

Via Venture Beat: “Xavier Niel explains 42: the coding university without teachers, books, or tuition” (or students over age 30).

Via The New York Times: “Corinthian Colleges, once one of the nation's largest for-profit education companies, engaged in apparently unlawful practices by paying its recruiters based on how many sales leads they converted into actual students, according to documents unsealed late last week.”

Via Politico: “As much as one out of every four dollars in federal student loans flowing to for-profit schools offering associate’s degrees or certificates could be eligible for forgiveness because of the school’s fraud, the department [of education] estimates.”

A report on for-profit higher ed from the AFT: “Regulating Too-Big-to-Fail Education.”

Via the AP: “New for-profit medical schools springing up across US.”

More on the accreditation of for-profit universities in the accreditation section below. And more on the role that for-profit universities might play in this year’s Presidential election in the poop emoji section above.

Meanwhile on Campus

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Wyoming’s President Declares Financial Crisis.” More on UWyo’s “queen sacrifice” from Bryan Alexander.

“A computer for every LA Unified student would cost $311 million,” says the LA School Report (which seems significantly less than the $1.3 billion it agreed to pay Apple/Pearson for iPads, but what do I know).

The Associated Press reports that “Recovery schools for addicted teens on the rise.”

The AAUP has censured the College of Saint Rose in New York and the University of Missouri (Columbia) “for violating standards of academic freedom and tenure.”

Accreditation and Certification

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Federal panel recommends termination for ACICS, an accreditor of several notorious for-profits, while also tightening the screws on the American Bar Association and other agencies.” More via the Associated Press.

“Four small private colleges – along with one community college – have been placed on probation by the regional accreditor for the southern United States,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The schools in question: Spring Hill College, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Centenary College, Georgetown College, and Angelina College.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The federal government is set to release data reports designed to help measure the performance of accrediting agencies, with metrics such as the graduation rates, debt, earnings and loan repayment rates of students who attended the colleges the accreditors oversee.”

Via NPR: “Trump University Is Like Other For-Profit Colleges But Without The Degree.” So, sorta like a coding bootcamp?

More on the accreditation of a “Sports University” in the sports section below.

Go, School Sports Team!

The New York Times on concussions and suicide: “A Young Athlete’s World of Pain, and Where It Led.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Second Former Vanderbilt Athlete Is Found Guilty in 2013 Campus Rape.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Big 12 Conference’s Board of Directors on Wednesday requested ‘a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the sexual assaults’ at Baylor University.”

Also via Inside Higher Ed: “More than 130,000 people have now signed a petition demanding that the National Collegiate Athletic Association ban violent athletes from playing intercollegiate sports.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Two higher-education agencies in North Carolina are looking into the company calling itself Forest Trail Sports University and could nix its plans to team up with Waldorf University, a for-profit institution based in Iowa that operates mostly online.”

From the HR Department

Via the Providence Journal: “Three teachers have resigned from Blackstone Valley Prep after the charter school confirmed allegations that they posted hurtful messages about some of their students” into a Google Doc shared with the entire school.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “After the State College of Florida replaced a tenure-like system with three-year contracts for all new faculty members, some complained. So the board shifted to one-year contracts.”

Via The New York Times: “Late Deal in Albany Could Allow Charter Schools to Hire More Uncertified Teachers.”

Elsewhere in the de-professionalization of education, via NBC4: “Georgia school district hiring 450 teachers, no education degree required.”

Via Edsurge: “Adam Bellow Becomes CEO of Breakout EDU to Spread Gamified Learning.”

Success Academy Makes Two Hires Aimed at Growth,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “LaMae de Jongh named ‘chief scaling officer,’ and Debora Barrett will be ‘chief people officer.’” LOL job titles.

Contests and Awards

14 projects win 2016 Knight News Challenge on Libraries.”

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.5 million to “making” projects.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Via San Francisco Magazine: “A Kindergarten Teacher May Be Evicted from Her Mission Apartment. Reason: ‘Using Appliances’.”

Here’s the Chalkbeat headline: “New software aims to make teachers' jobs ‘much easier’ in Indianapolis Public Schools.” Here’s the rub: it’s an LMS.

Via Techcrunch: “Apple launches coding camps for kids in its retail stores.”

Google announces “Google Cloud Platform Education Grants for computer science.”

Via The New York Times: “Students Look to Loan Alternatives to Simplify Process and Ease Burden.”

Grit – a blog post about a trademarked grit product by Pearson, of course.

“Can U.S. and U.K. higher ed systems scale up higher quality and cost efficient education?” asks The Hechinger Report. I’m gonna go with “no” and not just because of Betteridge’s Law of Headlines.

An in-depth look at for profit companies selling their education products and services in Africa. “Are public private partnerships the way forward?,” the headline asks. Again – thanks Betteridge – the answer is “no.” Hell no.

Betteridge strikes again! “Can Venture Capital Put Personalized Learning Within Reach of All Students?” asks Edsurge. (It’s so revealing how this is framed – the problem with “personalized learning” up ’til now? Not enough money from the mega-wealthy!)

And Betteridge again! “Can Edmodo Turn Virality into Profitability?

10 amazing ways Blockchain could be used in education.” “Amazing.”

Elsewhere in blockchain news: “An Open Letter To the DAO and the Ethereum community.” “$80 Million Hack Shows the Dangers of Programmable Money.” “Blockchain Company’s Smart Contracts Were Dumb.” Amazingly dumb.

More, via Inside Higher Ed, on various colleges’ OER initiatives.

The New York Times covers its own recent education event: “Educators Discuss the Future of Higher Education.” Funny headline as most of the speakers at this annual event aren’t actually educators.

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

ProQuest has acquired Alexander Street Press.

Elsevier has acquired Hivebench.

Homework help site Brainly has acquired OpenStudy.

Educator’s Assessment Data Management System (EADMS) is merging with IO Education.

Entstudy has raised $18 million from Greenwoods Investment, Tencent, and Yuanxi Capital. The Chinese tutoring company has raised $42.21 million total.

YewNo has raised $10 million from Pacific Capital for its “hyperknowledge” search platform.

GameEffective has raised $7 million from CE Ventures, Verint, 2B Angels, Shaked Ventures, and Lipman “to gamify employees’ sales and e-learning tasks.” The company has raised $10 million total.

The language-learning marketplace iTalki has raised $3 million from the Chinese online education company Hujang.

Zoomi has raised $2.5 million from an undisclosed list of investors. According to Edsurge, the company makes “adaptive workplace software that helps individualize corporate training.” The company has raised $8.45 million total.

Learn-to-code startup Piper has raised $2.1 million from Princeton University, Reach Capital, 500 Startups, Founders XFund, Jaan Tallinn, and Jay Silver. The company has raised $2.15 million total and should not be confused with the fictional company from the TV show Silicon Valley, Pied Piper, which has not yet pivoted to the learn-to-code space. But you never know.

Cogbooks has raised £1.25 million (which, thanks to the crashing of the pound following the referendum vote, is about a buck fifty) from Nesta Impact Investments, DC Thomson, and the Scottish Investment Bank. The adaptive learning company has raised $4.57 million total.

Knowledgemotion has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from ICG Ventures.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

“Examining ethical and privacy issues surrounding learning analyticsby Tony Bates.

Via Schools Week: “While the compulsory retention of every website visit for every person in the UK was recently debated and passed in the House of Commons in the Investigatory Powers Bill, the plans for statutory surveillance of every child’s Internet use, in schools and at home, has gone unnoticed.”

Via the Democrat & Chronicle: “A small rural Orleans County school district says it has been a victim of a cyber attack that exposed personal information of thousands of workers and contractors.”

Data and “Research”

Edsurge studies the gendered pay inequality at education non-profits. The median male salary at the Clayton Christensen Institute, for example is $143,000; the media female salary is $112,300. From this article, I learned that Sal Khan earns more than $540,000 a year. JFC.

According to research published in the Evaluation and Policy Analysis journal (as reported by Inside Higher Ed), “a student placed in remedial math has a better chance of succeeding in college by taking college-level statistical courses with additional support instead of developmental math.”

Via Mark Guzdial’s Computing Education Blog: “Google-Gallup Survey now Disaggregated by States: Fascinating and confusing reading.”

Bad news for brain training” by Daniel Willingham.

Via NPR: “More Testing, Less Play: Study Finds Higher Expectations For Kindergartners.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Does Reading on Computer Screens Affect Student Learning?”

Via Education Dive: “Study examines why students choose for-profit education.”

Edsurge reports on the latest survey from the Tyton Partners (paid for in part by the Gates Foundation) on the usage of technology in academic advising. (No surprise: the message is that there simply isn’t enough tech.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Experiments with adaptive learning at 14 colleges and universities have found the software has no significant average effect on course completion rates, has a slight positive effect on student grades and does not immediately lead to lower costs. And after using the software for three academic terms, less than half of the instructors involved say they will continue to use adaptive courseware.”

And yet headlines like this persist: “Adaptive Learning Holds Promise for the Future of Higher Education.” Oh. I see. “Sponsored Content.” No mention of who sponsored. Nice work, Education Dive.

Investment firm GSV has released a report with “comprehensive data + education sector insights.” They’ve called it “a history of the future” – nice tagline. Someone should steal that.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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