Education Politics

Well the UK’s Brexit shitshow continues, with all sorts of machinations this past week about who’ll be the new PM. Not Brexit campaign leader Boris Johnson, apparently. Perhaps the new Prime Minister will be fellow "leave" supporter Michael Gove, who betrayed Johnson this week (or Gove’s wife did, at least). You’ll remember Gove, of course, from his role as the former education secretary and as special friend of News Corp's Joel Klein. Or perhaps you’ll remember him from this Vine:

Or from this Vine (wonderfully captioned, I might add):

Horrific. Truly.

Speaking of horrors: “The One Group Not Freaking Out About Brexit: VCs.” So that speaks volumes. Also speaking volumes, the publications that framed the educational fallout from last week’s referendum on EU membership in terms of how it might possibly hurt the business of British ed-tech. Priorities. Inside Higher Ed looks at the potential declines in enrollment in British universities. Tony Bates looks at “Brexit and online learning in Europe.” Me, I cannot stop looking at that hand-clapping Vine.

The US Department of Education released its “#GoOpenDistrict Launch Packet,” encouraging schools to use OER. As Stephen Downes comments, “I find it interesting that they refer throughout to ‘openly licensed educational materials’ rather than ‘open educational resources’ – I wonder what the reasoning was behind that.” Rebrand. Realign. Rewrite history. The usual, I’d wager.

From the Department of Education press release: “Secretary King Calls for Charter Schools to Lead on Rethinking Student Discipline.” More from the Washington Post.

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Aiming to boost the growth of charter schools in cities nationwide, the Walton Family Foundation plans to announce a $250 million initiative Tuesday to help charters build and expand their sites.”

Kansas lawmakers, trying to head off a court shutdown of the state’s public schools, have increased aid to poor districts by $38 million,” NPR reports.

Via Education Week: “House Members Introduce Bill to Overhaul Career and Technical Education.” (Related, via the US News & World Report: “Women Losing Out on Career and Technical Education.”)

Via Politico: “The Education Department announced Thursday that Navient – the loan servicing giant that’s a frequent target of the political left – is one of three finalists to develop the first part of the Obama administration’s planned overhaul of how it collects federal student loans.” Nothing to see here…

Gov. Christie’s Toxic School Plan” by The New York Times’ Editorial Board.

Chancellor Kaya Henderson Says She’s Leaving D.C. Public Schools,” WAMU reports on the surprise news.

Presidential Campaign Politics

Hillary Clinton unveiled her tech platform this week. Excuse me. Her “innovation agenda.” She promises that every kid will learn to code (of course) by having the private sector train CS teachers. She wants federal financial aid for coding bootcamps and nanodegrees. Her plan also involved a talking point about diversifying the tech workforce, but then she went ahead and announced this doozy: a student loan deferment program for startup founders. Alexander Holt offers a pretty good argument as to why this is a “giveaway to Silicon Valley.” (The whole platform sounds like that, to be honest.) “Is Student-Loan Debt Really Holding Would-Be Entrepreneurs Back?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education. More on Clinton’s plans via Edweek’s Market Brief, Inside Higher Ed, and The New York Times.

Fact checking “Trump campaign’s claim that State Department gave $55.2 million to Laureate Education after hiring Bill Clinton.”

We know about Trump University. But apparently there was also the Trump Institute. According to The New York Times, “Trump Institute Offered Get-Rich Schemes With Plagiarized Lessons.”

Via The 74: “Trump Towers Over Education: How His Candidacy Is Already Affecting Federal Policy.”

Education in the Courts

The US Supreme Court has refused to re-open the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case (which involves public sector union dues), which it deadlocked over earlier this year.

Via ABC News: “ A defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine over the magazine’s debunked article about a University of Virginia gang rape was tossed out by a judge Tuesday. U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in Manhattan said the lawsuit brought by three former fraternity members cited comments that were offered as speculation and hypothesis rather than fact.”

Via The New York Times: “Accused in Two Rapes, Former Student at Indiana University Avoids Prison With Plea Deal.”

Testing, Testing…

Via The New York Times: “Tutors See Stereotypes and Gender Bias in SAT. Testers See None of the Above.”

ACT Will Change Scoring Scale for Writing Test,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

“What the PISA Results Really Say About Pure and Applied Math” by Dan Meyer.

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

From the edX blog: “How to be a Better Learner: Determine Your Learning Style.” There’s an infographic (but perhaps no cognitive scientist on staff, eh).

Robots won’t replace teachers because they can’t inspire us.” That’s the headline describing a conversation between Recode and Coursera’s Daphne Koller.

Elsewhere in MOOC research… From Campus Technology: “Grouping MOOC Students by Communication Mode Doesn’t Help Completion.” Try learning styles, maybe.

What We Learned From Talking with 100 MOOC Students” by Justin Reich (and George Veletsianos and Laura Pasquini).

Via Inverse: “Udemy’s Exodus, Amazon’s Gain. Mercurial rules are causing instructors to jump ship.”

More on MOOC (and related) research in the research section below.

Coding Bootcamps and the Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”

Via Politico: “Bid to buy for-profit college by former Obama insiders raises questions.” (The for-profit in question: the University of Phoenix.)

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The fourth and final ‘Borrower Defense Progress Report’ was released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education. It cites 26,603 claims for debt relief, of which 87 percent were from former students at the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges Inc., according to the agency. As of June 24, the report says, the department had approved more than 11,000 claims for student-debt relief, for a total of more than $170 million.”

Meanwhile on Campus

“After 25 Years, What’s Next For Charter Schools?” asks NPR’s Claudio Sanchez.

NPR’s Anya Kamenetz has an in-depth look at the technology and behavior management practices at the Rocketship chain of charter schools: “High Test Scores At A Nationally Lauded Charter Network, But At What Cost?” Hours in front of the computer, classes of 50 to 70 students, urinary tract infections, and “Zone Zero,” where total silence is enforced. The students are largely low income, Latinos, and these practices wouldn’t be acceptable at schools populated by upper middle class white kids Also unacceptable, apparently: reporting critically about Rocketship, as several publications – funded by the same folks who fund Rocketship. Funny how that works – lambasted Kamenetz for her story. The 74 just went ahead and published a response from the CEO of Rocketship. Because that’s ethical and responsible journalism.

Also via NPR: “From YouTube Pioneer Sal Khan, A School With Real Classrooms.”

Via The New York Times: “A Sea of Charter Schools in Detroit Leaves Students Adrift.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Michael Katze, famous for his studies of Ebola and the flu, ran a lab at the University of Washington where intoxication and sexual harassment went unchecked, and where he misused public resources for personal gain.”

“The University of Tennessee’s Health Science Center will no longer use live animals to train medical students,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Its the last American university to do so, and it will now use simulations instead.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Oregon’s free community college program begins this fall, but several two-year-college leaders in the state say the grant program is underfunded and too exclusive.”

I’m not sure if you’re watching the sex crime scandal at the Oakland Police Department unfold. It involves officer suicide, cover-ups, resignations (and much more), and this week there were revelations that the teenage victim at the center of much of this was a former student at a high school to which several of the police officers involved were assigned. The East Bay Express has the story.

Accreditation and Certification

“Long-Struggling Dowling College Is Told It Will Lose Accreditation,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Excelsior College and publisher Cengage Learning on Tuesday said they would partner to create self-paced online degree programs to give students an alternative pathway to college credit.”

“U.S. Conference of Mayors Resolves to Support Digital Badging,” says Edsurge.

There’s some more research on badges and alternative credentials in the research section below.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Baruch College of the City University of New York lacked institutional control over its athletics program when two staff members gave 30 athletes impermissible student aid and benefits over five years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association said in a news release on Thursday.” That aid totaled $255,097.

From the HR Department

“Civil rights activist and former Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay Mckesson will return to his old stamping grounds at city school headquarters to lead the district’s office of human capital,” The Baltimore Sun reports.

Edsurge reports that Esther Wojcicki is joining the startup Planet3.

The 2013 “Superintendent of the Year” Mark Edwards will join Discovery Education. Steve Dembo recently announced that he’s leaving the company after 10+ years.

Updates from ISTE

“Heard, Overheard and Announced at ISTE 2016by Edsurge (which mislabels ISTE as the biggest ed-tech conference in the world).

ISTE will start charging money to license its technology standards, the NETS, which it first released back in 1998.

Commerce Dept. Uses ISTE to Tout Opportunities for U.S. Ed-Tech Providers Abroad” by Education Week.

Lots of press releases were issued this week to coincide with the ISTE conference in Denver – Amazon’s new OER platform, for example. I’ve included most of those in the upgrades and downgrades section below.

Microsoft must’ve paid the big bucks to have this announced at the opening session: “ISTE and Microsoft collaborate to provide new school planning and professional learning resources.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

Who got rich off the student debt crisis.” Spoiler alert: loan companies like Sallie Mae, companies that do loan collection for the Department of Education, the Department of Education, private equity funds, for-profit universities.

Amazon Unveils Online Education Service for Teachers,” The New York Times writes about the online retailer’s forays into “OER.” And just one day later: “Amazon Inspire Removes Some Content Over Copyright Issues,” Natasha Singer reports. The content in question, featured in screenshots that Amazon sent journalists as part of the press package, were lifted from rival site TeachersPayTeachers. More on Amazon Inspire from the press release and from Edsurge.

As Phil Hill notes, Amazon is already a powerful player in the ed-tech market, providing the “cloud” platform for many major ed-tech companies.

Elsewhere in Amazon news, The New York Times reports the company has reached a deal whereby Amazon Prime will be the exclusive streaming service for most of PBS‘s kids’ TV shows.

One company not using Amazon to run its computing infrastructure: Blackboard. It announced this week it has entered a “strategic relationship” with IBM, which will run its data centers and send out joint press releases making big claims about what IBM Watson can do for education.

Tekserve, Precursor to the Apple Store, to Close After 29 Years.”

“For-Profit Coalition Seeks to Bolster the Flipped-Classroom Approach,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on what appears to be a new company founded by BAM Radio’s Errol St. Clair Smith. Fees to join the Flipped Learning Global Initiative are $5000/year.

Google released a handful of updates timed with ISTE, including Google Cast for Education which I heard someone say was the product most enthusiastically received by educators at the conference. A screen sharing app. Good grief, raise your standards, people. Other updates: an Expeditions app, quizzes in Google Forms, a partnership with TES, a physical coding project.

Not sure if this is new or just new-to-me, but the learn-to-code startup Codecademy now has a paid “Pro” option that, for $19.99/month gives you a “personalized learning plan.”

The Internet of Things Is Here,” according to market research published by Educause, at least.

Elsewhere in press releases disguised as news articles: “XYZprinting‘s new 3D printer is designed for the classroom,“ says Techcrunch. ”Bose wants your kids to build their own Bluetooth speakers,“ says Techcrunch. ” introduces Frozen and Star Wars-themed courses,“ says Techcrunch. ”Happy Atoms launches to teach kids about the wonders of molecules,“ says Techcrunch. ”Producers of ’Glassboards’ Aim to Replace Whiteboards in K–12 Schools,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief.

“An Evernote Free Basic Account is Now Basically Useless,” Gizmodo writes. Honestly, even a paid Evernote account seems iffy these days. (And the company makes it really challenging to get your content out in a usable format too. Maybe this time folks will learn their lesson. LOL.)

XO Infinity Modular Laptop Goes Up For Pre-Order Minus Its Modular Design,” The Digital Reader’s Nate Hoffelder reports.

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

Blackboard – or an affiliate of Blackboard recently formed by its parent company, Providence Equity Partners – has acquired Higher One for $260 million, a move that will allow Blackboard to handle more financial services for schools. More via the Washington Business Journal.

Barnes & Noble Education has acquired Promoversity, which offers customized merchandize and is one of the most unpleasant company names I’ve come across in a while.

Workday has acquired Zaption.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Common Sense Media has launched a “Privacy Policy Browser,” that as the name suggests looks at the policies of several popular ed-tech apps. More via Edsurge.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Big Data Comes to College, Officials Wrestle to Set New Ethical Norms.”

Data and “Research”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Nine percent of community-college students, or nearly one million people, attend institutions that don’t participate in the federal student-loan program, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Institute for College Access and Success.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students and their families are receiving scholarships and grants to cover more of the price of college, according to the latest installment of an annual survey conducted by Sallie Mae, the student lender.” (Where “more” is not “most.” Most is still loans. Thanks, Sallie Mae.)

Via NPR: “1 In 10 Cal State Students Is Homeless, Study Finds.”

According to research presented at the American Society for Engineering Education, “Most students will make an earnest attempt to answer homework questions without peeking at the answer, even if cheating is just a click away, a new study found.”

EdWeek’s Market Brief has a write-up of a recent study by the Software & Information Industry Association about why teachers take online PD courses. This biggest reasons: “how to use digital devices, how to use the educational software that goes on them, or to find out more about classroom behavior or management.”

Via Education Week: “Alternative-certification programs are bringing in scores more teachers of color, male teachers, and teachers who attended selective colleges than traditional programs. But teachers who enter the profession through such programs also appear to leave it at higher rates – and that gap has been growing since 1999, a provocative new study concludes.”

The University Professional and Continuing Education Association put out this press release: “Pioneering Study Reveals More Than 90 Percent of Colleges and Universities Embrace Alternative Credentials. Millennials prefer badging and certificates to traditional degrees, according to researchers from UPCEA, Penn State and Pearson.” Bullshit. But oh look, Pearson – which wants you to buy its proprietary badge system, Acclaim.

CB Insights looks at “Quantifying Media Attention to Predict Technology Trends” and says “ruh roh” about MOOCs.

“Could Smart Transactional Models Help Power Personalized Learning?” asks KnowledgeWorks, in a research brief touting the blockchain.

“Ka’ching,” says Edsurge. “US Edtech Brings in $225M in May.” (I’ll be posting my calculations for ed-tech funding for June tomorrow-ish.)

The Bipolar Literature on Technology in U.S. Schools” by Larry Cuban.


Pat Summitt, the legendary coach of the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols basketball team – and one of the greatest coaches in history – died this week, five years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The futurist Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock (and popularizer of the "schools are factories" myth) passed away this week.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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