Education Politics

Via Politico: “Dozens of organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement released a policy platform this week that prominently features a range of education issues. It calls for ending the privatization of schools, returning ‘real community control’ to school systems, and advocates sweeping reform of school discipline policies.” (The policy documents are here and here.)

The NAACP has approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion. More via NewsOne.

Via the AP: “ Texas is investigating a charter school system that the Turkish government claims has ties to a moderate Islamic cleric it’s accused of inspiring a military coup attempt. The Texas Education Agency said Friday that Turkey alleges Harmony Public Schools gave preferential treatment to Turkish owned and operated vendors in violation of competitive bidding requirements. Turkey also alleges the school system misused U.S. and state funds by guaranteeing a $1.9 million bond for a Turkish operated charter network in Arkansas.”

Via the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Pennsylvania’s fiscal watchdog on Wednesday questioned millions of public dollars paid to charter school landlords and called for the state to monitor such lease payments more closely.”

Presidential Campaign Politics

Via The Daily Beast: “A U.S. judge has declined Donald Trump’s request to throw out a lawsuit that accuses the Republican presidential nominee of defrauding students of his Trump University, one of three cases involving the defunct institution.”

Trump Video Depositions in University Suit Won’t Be Public,” Bloomberg laments.

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a court order that had allowed a transgender boy to use the boys' bathroom in a Virginia high school. The vote was 5 to 3, with Justice Stephen G. Breyer joining the court’s more conservative members ‘as a courtesy.’ He said that this would preserve the status quo until the court decided whether to hear the case. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.”

Denver District Judge Michael Martinez has ordered a halt to a Douglas County program that allowed parents to use vouchers to send their children to private schools.

Via the Providence Journal: “St. George’s School has agreed to a settlement over sexual abuse allegations that would provide compensation for up to 30 former students, the elite Rhode Island boarding school announced Wednesday.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Robert T. Dillon, the biology professor at the College of Charleston who resisted administrators’ requests that he update his syllabus with learning outcomes, is suing the South Carolina college and says he will retire.”

On the heels of a trademark complaint by the public media program Current, the edtech startup Listen Current has rebranded to Listenwise.

There are more court cases in the presidential campaign section above and in the sports section below.

Testing, Testing…

Reuters continues its investigation into test security: “‘Massive’ breach exposes hundreds of questions for upcoming SAT exams.”

Via JSTOR: “The Bloody Results of Mexico’s High-Stakes School Testing.”

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

“Has New Hampshire found the secret to online education that works?” asks The Hechinger Report. (What does “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines” tell us?) Here’s how Wired rewrote the headline: “Inside the Online School That Could Radically Change How Kids Learn Everywhere.” Because Wired.

There’s more on virtual schools in the research section below.

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

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Coding Boot Camps Grow, One Tries a Nonprofit Model.”

Via Xconomy: “Coding Dojo, which runs software development bootcamps in San Jose, Seattle, and other cities, will be offering some of its programming courses at Bellevue College near Seattle this fall in what it hopes will be the first of several college partnerships.”

(A question for colleges that are making these sorts of deals: if teaching programming skills is so fundamental to the future of your school, why are you outsourcing this function to for-profit companies? Have you learned nothing about for-profit higher ed?)

Via The Hechinger Report: “Strapped for students, nonprofit colleges borrow recruiting tactic from for-profits.”

The VC “take”:

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “New-student enrollment at institutions run by ITT Educational Services Inc. may drop by 45 to 60 percent over roughly the next six months, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to a new corporate filing by the company.”

More bad news for ITT: Inside Higher Ed reports that ITT’s accreditor could revoke the for-profit’s accreditation.

Via The Portland Press Herald: “A troubled for-profit college network that was led by former Maine Gov. John McKernan controlled a nonprofit foundation in Portland for years that critics say should not have had charitable tax status and may have been designed to help circumvent federal rules governing access to student aid programs. Education Management Corporation, the Pittsburgh-based college network, disputes the charges, saying the foundation operated in accordance with tax law and that its giving did not help it get around the federal rules.”

Meanwhile on Campus

Atlanta Public Schools debut new police force,” WSB-TV reports. Every school will have a dedicated police force, which as Tressie McMillan Cottom quips, is more than have AP classes.

Via BoingBoing: “‘After School Satan Club’ could be coming to elementary schools in the U.S.”

“Responding to outcry from some parents, students and community members, Butler Traditional High has immediately suspended the section of its dress code policy that regulates how students can wear their hair,” The Courier Journal reports. That section was specifically targeted at Black students and included a ban on cornrows, twists, and dreadlocks.

Harvard’s Finals Clubs are exclusive and The New York Times is on it.

Via The Daily Californian: “Last weekend, an emergency exit was built near [UC Berkeley] Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ office as a security measure against potential protesters. The door, which cost $9,000, is located outside a short hallway between his conference room and his office in California Hall.” Odd, considering it’s been student protestors and not chancellors, who’ve been beaten, peppersprayed, and arrested.

Via The Independent: “Number of disadvantaged students attending university [in the UK] falls for the first time.”

Via the Austin American-Statesman: “Incorrect Latin word mars UT’s monument to victims of 1966 Tower sniper.

Via The Indian Express: in Mumbai, “16-year-old ends life after not getting college of choice, 2nd case this week.”

Accreditation and Certification

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Anthony Bieda is resigning as the leader of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, said the large, national accrediting agency, which is facing an existential threat. Bieda took over in April after the abrupt departure of the group’s longtime president, Albert Gray. In addition to Bieda’s resignation, roughly a quarter of the agency’s staff has been laid off in recent days.”

Also via Inside Higher Ed: “A prominent technology think tank wants the federal government to encourage the use of standardized assessments to measure postsecondary knowledge and skills, with an approach that would separate learning from credentialing and challenge the dominance of traditional college degrees.”

For more accreditation news, see the section above on for-profits.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A former Kent State University softball player who says she was raped by her coach’s son filed a complaint Tuesday asking the Supreme Court of Ohio to order the release of records that could shine new light on how the university handled her case.”

“The sexual assault scandal that took down Baylor University’s president and revered football coach also found a problem with a bedrock of the school’s faith-based education: a student conduct code banning alcohol, drugs and premarital sex that may have driven some victims into silence,” the AP reports.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Star Quarterback’s Unfiltered Posts Set Off Debate About Athletes’ Speech Rights.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “In a statement sent to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Monday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill argued the NCAA is overstepping its authority in attempting to punish the university for years of academic fraud involving athletes.” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “Jan Boxill, the ethicist and former faculty chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill whose apparent participation in the shocking academic fraud there left observers amazed, says all the allegations against her are false.”

From the HR Department

Lord David Willetts, a proponent, among other things, of privatizing the British National Health Plan, has joined 2U as a strategic advisor.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Controversial College Chief Now Works on App That Compares Itself to Tinder.” (I was tempted to copy-paste this whole article here because OMFG the shadiness.)

Apple has released its diversity report. Among the details, Buzzfeed reports, “Black employees now make up 9% of the company’s workforce, up from 8% in 2015; the number of Asians has increased from 18% to 19%; and Hispanics are up from 11% to 12%.”

More HR news in the upgrades/downgrades section below.

Upgrades and Downgrades

“The stock price for Pearson PLC, the world’s largest education business, dropped precipitously Friday after its announcement of a 7 percent decline in underlying sales to about $2.5 billion for the first half of 2016,” reports EdWeek’s Market Brief. Pearson also picked a new president for Pearson North America: Kevin Capitani, formerly an exec at SAP.

“‘Sesame Street’ Looking to Bring Back Senior Cast Members After Uproar,” says KQED.

“Anybody can now buy Microsoft’s $3,000 HoloLens,” says Techcrunch. “Anybody.”

Via The Verge: “Kids can now learn to code with Pocky, the delicious Japanese snack.” JFC.

Remember when Twitter announced that it was donating its archive to the Library of Congress? The Atlantic has an update (spoiler alert: there’s no update): “Six years after the announcement, the Library of Congress still hasn’t launched the heralded tweet archive, and it doesn’t know when it will. No engineers are permanently assigned to the project.”

Quartz profiles Byju’s, which raised $75 million earlier this year: “India’s largest education technology startup was built by an engineer who aced CAT for fun – twice.”

If you go to The Open Syllabus Project, you can see that its academic partners are Columbia University, UNC, and Utah State. But if you read this week’s Edsurge article, you’d think it was all happening at Stanford. Why, it’s almost as though all things ed-tech magically become Stanford’s innovations. MOOCs, CAI, and now this.

Bitcoin worth $72 million stolen from Bitfinex exchange in Hong Kong,” says Reuters. But I’m sure the whole “blockchain in education” thing is gonna be super nifty and mega-secure.

From EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin: “Blockchain Misconceptions and the Future of Education.”

Knowmia Announces It’s Closing Up Shop on August 31,” says Edsurge.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Complete College America is getting into the quality-assurance business. The nonprofit, which advocates for remediation reform, performance-based funding and other strategies it argues will help more people graduate from college, on Monday launched the GPS Direct Seal of Approval program. The initiative will evaluate ed-tech vendors and their products, awarding the organization’s seal of approval to technology that is shown to help students get through college.”

“Why Pokemon Go shows the future of learning gamification,” according to Education Dive. Via Education Week: “Educators Weigh Learning Value of Pokémon Go.”

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

Vipkid has raised $100 million in Series C funding from Sequoia Capital and Yunfeng Capital. The Chinese company matches kids age 5 to 12 to native English-speaking tutors. It has raised $125 million total.

Byndr has raised $700,000 in seed funding from University of Pennsylvania's Education Design Studio accelerator and Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

Volaris Group has acquired The Alpha School System. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Edgenuity has acquired Compass Learning. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Edgenuity, which is owned by Weld North LLC, has recently been in news for its financial relationship with Alabama’s former Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, who was sentenced last month to four years in prison for felony ethics violations.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

Via Vox: “Big Data 101: Colleges are hoping predictive analytics can fix their dismal graduation rates.”

Data, “Research,” and Reports

Via EdSource: “Over 1 in 5 of California’s charter schools have restrictive admissions requirements or other exclusionary practices that keep out many students with the greatest academic needs, a report released Monday by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the public interest law firm Public Advocates alleges.”

Research by Roland Fryer and Will Dobbie: “We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings. No Excuses charter schools increase test scores and four-year college enrollment, but have a small and statistically insignificant impact on earnings, while other types of charter schools decrease test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings. Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings.”

Via Education Week: “Full-time virtual charter school students in Ohio perform worse academically than their peers enrolled in traditional district schools, according to a study released this week. Furthermore, virtual charter schools are dragging down the overall performance of Ohio’s charter sector, the study says – brick-and-mortar charter school students perform slightly better or slightly worse than their district school peers, depending on the subject.”

Via The New York Times: “Study Finds Chinese Students Excel in Critical Thinking. Until College.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at a survey of international students, some of whom are reconsidering studying in the UK and writes “How Britain’s Brexit Could Benefit Universities Elsewhere.”

Campus Technology writes up the International Data Corporation’s market latest data on tablet sales: “Worldwide Tablet Shipments Fall More Than 12 Percent in Second Quarter.”

Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill chastises a market research company on lousy research about the LMS market.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “High levels of student debt are contributing to negative wealth – when a household’s debt is greater than its total assets – and inequality, according to an analysis of household finance data by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

According to a report from The Education Trust, “roughly 3.6 percent of colleges and universities – 138 in all – held 75 percent of all postsecondary endowment wealth. Yet despite their vast wealth, too few of these colleges invest enough in students from low-income families.” Almost half of these schools are in the bottom 5% for enrolling first-time, full-time Pell Grant recipients. These colleges could use some of those endowment funds, Ed Trust contends, to better support low-income students.

Tony Bates looks at a recent UNESCO report on corruption in higher ed.

Edsurge writes about Entangled Solutions’ report on “mitigating conflicts of interest among the different parties that will work together under the program: alternative education providers (bootcamps), traditional higher-ed institutions, and 'quality assurance entities' (QAEs), which will evaluate the pilot programs, much like accreditation agencies evaluate colleges and universities.” The irony here is rich. Rich, I tell you. But this is how history gets rewritten and education policies get made, I suppose.

Via Motherboard: “Fifty Percent of Mechanical Turk Workers Have College Degrees, Study Finds.”

“The gig economy is making waves in education,” says Education Dive. “Thanks largely to the rise in virtual schools, the sector is a Top 5 industry for freelance work.” Congrats, education. Your labor policies and your notion of solidarity remain awful. Maybe someone will volunteer to write an online op-ed in a venture- or corporate-backed publication for free about this.


One of education’s greatest luminaries passed away this week. Seymour Papert died at his home in Blue Hill, Maine on Monday. Papert, as Gary Stager has described him, was the “inventor of everything (good) in education.” He developed “constructionism,” a theory of learning based on Jean Piaget’s “constructivism”; he co-invented the programming language LOGO; he was the inspiration for Lego’s Mindstorms; he co-founded the MIT Media Lab; he’s been called the father of the “maker” movement; he authored two books that everyone in education should read: Mindstorms and The Children’s Machine (he authored more than that, but you really must read these books, particularly if you work in ed-tech); and he was a mentor and friend to many.

More remembrances via The New York Times, NPR, Forward, The Guardian, the MIT Media Lab, and elsewhere.

Rest in power, Seymour. You are already missed.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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