Presidential Campaign Politics

Convention Week #2. This time, it was the Democrats’ turn.

Higher ed showed up in Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech Thursday night, including a mention of her plans to make school debt-free. “And here’s something we don't say often enough,” she added. “College is crucial, but a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job.”

Via NPR: “Clinton’s Free-Tuition Promise: What Would It Cost? How Would It Work?”

The Washington Post profiles Anne Holton, wife of VP candidate Tim Kaine, former Secretary of Education in the state of Virginia. Inside Higher Ed has more on Kaine’s higher ed record.

There was quite a bit of education talk at this week’s DNC. President Obama was introduced Wednesday night, for example, by Sharon Belkofer, a member of the Rossford, Ohio school board.

Via Politico: Stolen “emails from the Democratic National Committee show DNC Deputy Communications Director Eric Walker telling his colleagues to avoid mentioning the Common Core in a video. It ‘is a political third rail that we should not be touching at all. Get rid of it.’”

Melania Trump’s website has been scrubbed from the Internet – it now redirects to the Trump real estate business page – following questions that she’d lied on the website about having a college degree.

Education Politics

Via the press release: “The U.S. Department of Education today proposed regulations that seek to improve oversight and protect more than 5.5 million distance education students at degree-granting institutions, including nearly 3 million exclusively online students by clarifying the state authorization requirements for postsecondary distance education.” More on the proposed rules from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via Ars Technica: “AT&T overcharged two Florida school districts for phone service and should have to pay about $170,000 to the US government to settle the allegations, the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday. AT&T disputes the charges and will contest the decision.”

Education Department Releases Guidance on Homeless Children and Youth.”

“Thirty-one academics from Istanbul University were detained on Monday on the suspicion that they have links to what the government calls the ‘Fethullah Terrorist Organization,’” says Inside Higher Ed.

Education in the Courts

The EFF has picked its stupid patent of the month, and congrats ed-tech, you’re it: “Another month, another terrible patent being asserted in the Eastern District of Texas. Solocron Education LLC, a company whose entire ‘education’ business is filing lawsuits, owns U.S. Patent No. 6,263,439, titled ‘Verification system for non-traditional learning operations.’ What kind of ‘verification system’ does Solocron claim to have invented? Passwords.”

Via NPR: “Ash Whitaker has filed a federal Title IX lawsuit against his school district. The transgender teen says the Kenosha [Wisconsin] School District has essentially created a surveillance program to monitor his bathroom usage, with plans to issue green wristbands to help identify transgender students.”

“The University of Michigan has agreed to pay $165,000 to settle what was left of a lawsuit over a graduate student’s dismissal from an engineering program in 2011,” the AP reports. The student, Jennifer Dibbern, claimed she was fired in retaliation for her union activities.

Via Gawker: “Black Elementary School Teacher Body-Slammed By Cop and Lectured on ‘Violent Tendencies’ of Black People.”

Via the AP: “Remington Arms and the families of some victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre have agreed that any dispute over the release of company documents in a lawsuit brought by the families and a surviving teacher will be decided by a judge.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A former hockey player at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks who was acquitted of rape says the university system is unreasonably withholding his bachelor’s degree.” He is suing the university.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Court Rejects Florida International’s Trademark Claim Against Florida National.”

Testing, Testing…

Via Reuters: “Students and teachers detail pervasive cheating in a program owned by test giant ACT.” The program in question: The Global Assessment Certificate program.

Via Politico: “It’s been just over one year since the College Board overhauled the Advanced Placement U.S. History exam and found itself under fire from conservatives who felt the new approach emphasized ‘America as a nation of oppressors and exploiters.’ Now, the College Board is being criticized for its new AP European History framework.”

Carthage Goes Test Optional on Admissions,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

The University System of Maryland joins edX.

From MIT President L. Rafael Reif: “Letter regarding the future of MIT OpenCourseWare.”

There’s more on proposed regulations for online education in the politics section above.

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

Inside Higher Ed on the “next act” of Corinthian Colleges: “Zenith Education gets a new CEO and $250 million from its guaranty agency owner, to continue effort to reinvent career education and recover from shedding 29 campuses and 23,000 students since buying the remains of failed for-profit.”

Via USA Today: “The Education Department will cut off federal student financial aid July 31 to three for-profit medical education campuses, saying the schools exaggerated their job placement rates.” The school in question: Medtech Colleges, a for-profit medical school. The campuses in Falls Church VA, Silver Spring MD, and Washington DC will lose their federal financial aid.

Via TechRepublic: “Reactor Core founder: short-term programs, not four-year degrees, are the future of tech education.” He wishes, certainly.

More on layoffs at the coding bootcamp General Assembly in the HR section below.

Meanwhile on Campus

Via Education International: “Bridge International Academies appears to be losing its foothold in Uganda following a government decision to close 87 for-profit primary schools, including those belonging to Bridge, after failing to comply with minimum standards and regulations.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “For Native Students, Education’s Promise Has Long Been Broken.”

The Austin American-Statesman on the 50th anniversary of the UT Tower shooting (and new campus carry laws in the state).

Via The Monitor: “Less than a year after classes formally began at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, a ‘culture of fear is pervasive’ on campus that is exacerbated by poor communication by the administration, concludes a recent white paper study produced by the university’s faculty senate.”

513 schools are on the Department of Education’s financial watchlist, The Wall Street Journal reports, noting that that’s down from 528 three months ago.

The University of Virginia is once again under investigation for its handling of sexual violence under Title IX.

Pepperdine Drops Its Title IX Exemption,” IHE reports.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Spelman College Is Accused of Inaction After Anonymous Report of Gang Rape.”

Via The Salt Lake Tribune: “After four women accused a Utah State University student of sex assaults, no charges and no apparent discipline.”

Accreditation and Certification

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Cambria-Rowe Business College will close on August 24, after its controversial accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, had its federal recognition thrown into doubt.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “NCAA Questions Host Cities on Possible Discrimination.”

From the HR Department

“Education Startup General Assembly Lays Off 7% of Staff,” says The Wall Street Journal.

Via the New Haven Independent: “In the wake of widespread protests, the African-American cafeteria worker who broke a slavery-themed window in Yale’s Calhoun College had criminal charges against him dropped Tuesday and got his job back – on the condition that he forfeit his right to speak publicly.”

Via the Seattle Times: “Jodi Kelly, the dean who became the focus of student protests at Seattle University this spring, has retired, ending one of the main points of contention between the protesters and the university.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

The new, HBO-first, VC-friendly Sesame Street continues to betray the show’s original values. This week, it announced that it was ousting the long-time cast members who played Gordon, Luis, and Bob. Privatization and “innovation” are profoundly anti-human.

“Who's Playing Matchmaker Between Students and Employers?” asks Edsurge. (Spoiler alert: startups! Wheee! Ed-tech to watch: job placement startups.)

“Tens Of Thousands Of People Can Cancel Their Student Loans, But Don’t Know It,” says Buzzfeed.

Via The New York Times: “How a Homeless Teenager’s Viral Story Caused a Battle Over GoFundMe Money.”

It wasn’t directly related to education, but for all those keeping track of VR and AR hype in ed-tech, it’s perhaps worth noting: Skully, the maker of an AR helmet, has “crashed and burned,” Techcrunch reports.

Minecraft will get Oculus Rift support in next few weeks,” according to The Verge.

Halo has been testing its brain stimulating wearable with Olympic athletes ahead of Rio,” says Techcrunch. Just think of the education applications!

Zynga Releases Free, Education-Focused Words With Friends EDU,” says Edsurge.

Via The Atlantic: “The Rise of Educational Escape Rooms.”

“A Platform to Monitor Learning” is the headline IHE uses to describe Yellowdig, a new social platform where instructors can watch how students interact and share information.

Happy third birthday, Reclaim Hosting!

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

Matific has raised $45 million in a round led by its director Leon Kamenev. The company has raised $57 million total.

EverFi has raised $40 million in funding from Bezos Expeditions, New Enterprise Associates, Tomorrow Ventures, Rethink Education, Advance Publications, Rethink Impact, and Silicon Valley Bank. The company has raised $61 million total.

Wonder Workshop has raised $20 million from WI Harper Group, Idea Bulb Ventures, Learn Capital, Charles River Ventures, Madrona Venture Group, and TCL. The robot startup, formerly known as Play-i, has raised $35.9 million total.

Yellowdig has raised $1 million from SRI Capital. (More on the startup in the “upgrades and downgrades” section above.)

Curricula maker n2y has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the Riverside Company.

Analytics company Thrivist has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Crimson Ventures.

Verizon will buy Yahoo for $4.8 billion.

GreatSchools has acquired Schoolie. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance Has Removed 10M Student Email Addresses and Won’t Collect Any More,” says Edsurge. “The data we don’t store cannot be stolen from us,” founder Hadi Partovi writes in a blog post. I wish more education companies would follow his lead.

Via the Sunlight Foundation: “A look at local education data policies.”

“Pop star tells fans to send their Twitter passwords, but it might be illegal,” says Ars Technica. Illegal or not, this is such a dumb idea. “#HackedByJohnson entices young fans so he can post cute messages in their name.”

“Math Babe” Cathy O’Neil on “Horrifying New Credit Scoring in China.” More on this and how Web search history will be used to determine credit worthiness in The LA Times.

Data and “Research”

Global Ed Tech Startup Deals And Funding See An Uptick,” according to the latest report from investment analyst firm CB Insights.

From Berkery Noyes, the “Mergers and Acquisitions Trend Report” for the first half of 2016.

According to Edsurge’s calculations, “US Edtech Brings in $122M in June.”

From Data & Society: “Personalized Learning: The Conversations We’re Not Having.”

Via the Pew Research Center: “A majority of black Americans say that at some point in their lives they've experienced discrimination or were treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity, but blacks who have attended college are more likely than those without any college experience to say so.”

Although the percentage of students who report being bullied at school is down, girls still report being bullied at a slightly higher rate than boys. More on the National Crime Victimization Survey via Politico.

“Public Dollars Don’t Favor Rich Students,” says The Atlantic. “A new study debunks the myth that wealthy college students receive more state money than do the economically disadvantaged.”

Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill has updated a 2015 article with new data: “How Much Do Community College Students Actually Pay For Textbooks?”

Phil Hill also weighs in on the latest Babson survey on OER.

Via the Washington Post: “ Think teachers can’t be fired because of unions? Surprising results from new study.” (I guess it’s only surprising if you buy the story that unions prevent teachers from being fired.)

“Two Reports Show Untapped Potential of Competency-Based Education,” according to Edsurge. These reports come from Jobs for the Future and Ellucian, Eduventures, and the American Council on Education – the latter who certainly have a lot of skin in the game of hyping CBE.

Brainstorming Is Dumb,” says Fast Company.

“Researchers Target Brain-Scanning Technology to Improve Ed. Software,” says Education Week. Funny that no matter how many times this stuff gets dismissed as neurobollocks or challenged as shoddy science, that it keeps getting revived by the hype machine.


RIP University of Toronto scientist Ursula Franklin.

“The viability of technology, like democracy, depends in the end on the practice of justice and on the enforcement of limits to power.” – Ursula Franklin

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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