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Presidential Campaign Politics


On the Republican Party platform and presidential ticket:

Trump plan would base student loans on employability,” the Hechinger Report says. “The RNC wants to make student loans competitive again. They never were,” writes Susan Dynarski. (More on private student loans in the “upgrades and downgrades” section below.)

“The Republican Platform on Higher Education Is a Mess,” says New America.

Via Edsurge: “Republican Party Platform Addresses Education, Nods to Edtech.” (Congrats, ed-tech.) More on the platform via Inside Higher Ed.

Via The New York Times: “Mike Pence’s Record on Education Is One of Turmoil and Mixed Results.”

From the Republican National Convention:

TurnItIn was pleased, I’m sure, to be invoked many times following Melania Trump’s convention speech, which plagiarized passages from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech.

Via The Washington Post: “Donald Trump Jr. trashes U.S. public schools (though he didn’t attend one).”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi spoke on Wednesday night. (The education angle here, as Vox points out: “Pam Bondi decided not to sue Trump University – and got a $25,000 donation from Trump.”)

The president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr, spoke on Wednesday night. Inside Higher Ed interviewed Falwell, who uttered this gem about other universities: “A lot of these schools have become Democratic Party indoctrination camps.”

Venture capitalist, supervillain, and Facebook investor and board member Peter Thiel spoke Thursday night. Thiel, who laments women’s suffrage, has been in the news recently after it was revealed he was financing Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker – revenge against the publication, some surmise, for outing Thiel as gay. Some touted Thiel’s appearance as a breakthrough moment for the RNC; and some have tried to explain why Thiel, purportedly a libertarian, would back an authoritarian for president. (Spoiler alert: capitalism.)

Tune in next week as the dumpster fire will burn in Philadelphia.

(Elsewhere in) Education Politics


Following a failed coup attempt in Turkey, some 15,000 education staff have been suspended, the BBC reports. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Turkish government’s post-coup demand for the resignations of 1,500 university deans appears to be a blanket measure that will allow for case-by-case examinations of political loyalty, Turkish experts on the country said on Wednesday.” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania and among other things runs a large charter school chain in the US, of plotting the coup.

Via The Chicago Tribune: “Gov. Bruce Rauner once told some of Chicago‘s wealthiest and most influential civic leaders that half of Chicago Public Schools’ teachers ‘are virtually illiterate’ and half of the city’s principals are ‘incompetent,’ according to emails Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration released Thursday under a court order.”

“U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. on Wednesday announced new guidelines that aim to provide more transparent information for borrowers and more accountability for the companies that manage repayment of federal student loans,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Education in the Courts


Via Inside Higher Ed: “Apollo Education Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, is facing a lawsuit from two shareholders who are seeking to postpone or terminate the company’s sale, according to a corporate filing posted Thursday.”

Transgender high school students in Maryland and Wisconsin who were banned from boys’ facilities in their schools have filed federal lawsuits arguing that the prohibitions violate their civil rights,” The Washington Post reports.

Via The Oregonian: “Two former University of Oregon Counseling & Testing Center employees, who blew the whistle on a superior they said accessed an alleged rape victim’s health records without her consent, settled a lawsuit with the school.”

Minnesota Public Radio is suing the ed-tech startup Listen Current for trademark infringement. 89.3 The Current is the name of the radio station’s music service. Listen Current was founded by former public radio journalist Monica Brady-Myerov.

Testing, Testing…


More on the effects of digital devices on testing in the research section below.

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)


Udacity wants to help you become a self-taught self-driving car engineer,” says Techcrunch. (How are you “self-taught” if you pursue a nanodegree program? I do not know.)

Edsurge reports that Smartly has launched its free, online MBA program. (The word “unaccredited,” strangely, does not appear in the story.) Smartly was co-founded by former Rosetta Stone CEO Tom Adams.

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


From the press release: “Sabio, a Los Angeles-based software engineering program, works with highly motivated and smart individuals wanting to transition to software engineering professions, has been approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.”

From the blog: “Nashville Software School (NSS) is proud to announce that our full-time Web Developer Bootcamp has been approved by the Tennessee State Approving Agency for Veterans Education and Training. We are the first coding bootcamp program in the Southeast U.S. approved to accept the GI Bill and one of the first five in the entire country.”

“In Brazil the For-Profit Giants Keep Growing,” Inside Higher Ed blogger Marcelo Knobel observes.

More on the future of Apollo Education, the parent company of the for-profit University of Phoenix, in the legal section above.

Meanwhile on Campus


University tuition fees rise to £9,250 for current students,” the BBC reports.

“Embattled Dowling College to Close After All,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Something something Malcolm Gladwell something something.

Accreditation and Certification


It’s not accreditation per se, but there are some updates to regulatory oversight of coding bootcamps in the for-profit higher ed section above.

Go, School Sports Team!


Via The New York Times: “Baylor Sexual Assault Report Produces Punishment, but No Paper Trail.”

From the HR Department


“Labor Board Ruling Could Allow Grad Students to Unionize,” The Wall Street Journal frets.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Yale Rehires Worker Who Smashed Window Depicting Slavery.”

Also via The Chronicle: “Bonuses Push More Public-College Leaders Past $1 Million.”

“Long Beach’s Eloy Oakley named chancellor of California Community Colleges,” The Press Telegram reports.

Luci Willits, the deputy CEO of Smarter Balanced, is leaving the testing group to join the testing company Curriculum Associates, says Politico.

Upgrades and Downgrades


Amazon announced that it is partnering with Wells Fargo to offer student loans – Amazon Prime Student subscribers will be eligible for half a percentage point reduction on their interest rate for private student loans. (As I’ve stated elsewhere, private student loans and the expansion of “fintech” into education is one of the most important ed-tech trends to watch, although you wouldn’t know if it you only read those ed-tech publications that downplay VCs’ interest in the private loan market.) Here’s Inside Higher Ed on the news, which notes that consumer advocates are concerned about the offering. No surprise, as last year the CFPB investigated the bank’s student loan practices. As US News & World Reports reports, “Wells Fargo, one of the largest private student loan lenders that services more than 1 million borrowers, received the fourth most complaints out of all private student loan servicers, according to a 2015 report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

More on student loans in The Atlantic: “When Employers Pay Student Loans, Those Who Most Need Help Are Left Out.”

Duolingo wants to reinvent flashcards with Tinycards,” says Techcrunch.

“Should teachers care about Pokémon Go?” asks Dean Groom.

“Teachers Want Better Ed-Tech Science Tools. Will the Market Provide Them?” asks Education Week.

(Remember Betteridge’s law of headlines, kids.)

Blackboard Learn Ultra: Ready or not?” asks Phil Hill.

“Activists and educators on Monday called a Mexican-American studies textbook proposed for use across Texas biased and poorly researched and argued that its contents are especially offensive in a state where a majority of public school students are Hispanic,” the AP reports. “‘Industrialists were very driven, competitive men,’ the textbook says, according to excerpts. ’In contrast, Mexican laborers were not reared to put in a full day’s work so vigorously. There was a cultural attitude of ”manana,“ or ‘tomorrow.’”

Library of Congress wracked by DNS attack,” FCW reports.

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)


Private student loan provider CommonBond has raised $300 million in debt financing and $30 million in Series B funding. Investors include Neuberger Berman Private Equity, August Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, Social Capital, Nyca Partners, and Victory Park Capital. It has also acquired Gradible for an undisclosed amount. Excluding the debt financing (it raised $275 million that way in January), the company has raised $78.61 million total.

Modo Labs has raised $10 million from Education Growth Partners. The company, which helps universities build mobile apps, has raised $17.4 million.

Schoold has raised $1.55 million from Learn Capital, Social Capital, University Ventures, and Joe Grundfest. The college search app raised $4.5 million earlier this year.

Code school Code Institute has raised $556,000 from Kernel Capital and Enterprise Ireland.

Test prep company Transweb has raised $120,000 from 500 Startups.

Pluralsight has acquired Train Simple, a provider of Adobe software training.

EverFi has acquired LawRoom.

Private equity firm Quad-C Management has acquired Rainbow Early Education.

“The vast science-citation database ‘Web of Science’ will be sold by its long-time owner, Thomson Reuters, as part of a US$3.55-billion divestment of the firm’s intellectual-property and science division,” Nature reports.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance


Via The Washington Post: “Pokémon Go sparks concern about children’s privacy.”

Spot the errors about COPPA and privacy in this story about Pokémon Go.

“What Could Go Wrong With Asking Teachers To Monitor Kids for ‘Extremist’ Beliefs?” asks the ACLU.

“Will fingerprint scans at Lake Zurich School District 95 protect students’ privacy?” asks the Lake Zurich Courier. Dear god no.

Not directly education-related, but I’ll include it here nonetheless: “US cannot force Microsoft to hand over emails stored abroad, court rules,” The Guardian reports. More via Inside Higher Ed blogger Tracy Mitrano.

Data and “Research”


Via Education Week: “A Persistent Divide: New Federal Data Explore Education Disparities.”

Back-to-School Spending Set to Rise 11% as Confidence Grows,” says Bloomberg.

The investment analysts at CB Insights have released “The Venture Pulse Report, Q2 2016.” (No mention of education, to give you a sense of how weak the ed-tech venture capital pulse might be right now.)

According to Gartner (as reported by Education Week), “U.S. Personal Computer Market Grows Despite International Decline.”

Via Education Week: “High-achieving North Carolina 8th graders who took Algebra 1 online performed worse than similar students who took the course in a traditional classroom, according to a new study from researchers at Northwestern University.”

Inside Higher Ed writes up the results of a “New Study of Online Student Market,” a survey by Aslanian Market Research and the Learning House.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Which Ed-Tech Tools Truly Work? New Project Aims to Tell Why No One Seems Eager to Find Out.” (Um. Why would we trust a startup incubator, even one housed at a university, to provide an answer to this.)

Via Education Week: “Some test questions are likely harder to answer on tablets than on laptop and desktop computers, presenting states and districts with a new challenge as they move to widespread online assessments. Analyses by test providers and other organizations have pointed to evidence of small but significant ‘device effects’ for tests administered in some grades and subjects and on certain types of assessment items.”

Education Week also reports on a new study by Carol Dweck on poverty and “growth mindset.”

Via the Pew Research Center: “Research in the Crowdsourcing Age, a Case Study.” Among the findings, Mechanical Turk workers report earning less than minimum wage.

“The Long-Term Effects of Social-Justice Education on Black Students” by Melinda D. Anderson in The Atlantic.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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