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Education Politics


One of the big stories this week: the US Department of Education’s announcement about which “non-traditional providers” (MOOCs, coding bootcamps) will be eligible for financial aid as part of its EQUIP experiment. More details in the for-profit higher ed section below.

Via ProPublica: “New Jersey lawmakers have announced a series of measures addressing student debt issues this week, including one bill aimed at reforming the state’s controversial student loan program.” Currently, the state’s loan program does not offer any reprieve for borrowers who are unemployed or face financial struggles.

From the press release: “U.S. Department of Education Awards $300,000 to Wounded Knee District School on Pine Ridge Reservation Following Multiple Student Suicides.”

Presidential Campaign Politics


Via Inside Higher Ed: “Former President Bill Clinton received $1.1 million in payments from the for-profit college operator Laureate Education in 2015, according to tax returns released by the Hillary Clinton campaign Friday.”

Via the AP: “No evidence Trump provided child care services for employees.”

Education in the Courts


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Oklahoma Wesleyan University is joining a former University of Virginia student’s lawsuit challenging the Title IX guidance of the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, according to court documents filed Monday.”

More on a court case filed by former student athletes against the NCAA and UNC in the sports section below.

Testing, Testing…


Via Politico: “The Army wants you… to use its test prep program. That's right, the Army has a standardized test preparation program that includes seven free ACT and SAT practice exams. It's rolling out a social media push today using the hashtag #DontSettle4Cs to promote the program, called March2Success. It includes self-paced tutoring focused heavily on English and math that can be monitored by a teacher or parent, and has been used by 1.7 million people since 2003.”

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)


Coursera’s Daphne Koller announced in a blog post that she’s leaving the MOOC company she co-founded to work at a Alphabet (a.k.a. Google) biotech company, Calico. (Coursera’s other founder, Andrew Ng, left the startup several years ago to join the Chinese search engine Baidu. And Sebastian Thrun, who founded the rival Udacity, has left his startup and is rumored to be back in the self-driving car business.) Viva la MOOC revolution, I guess, which Koller credits herself and these others for starting out of the AI lab in Stanford. See also: “MOOCs and the Mythological Promise” by Rolin Moe.

Teach for America joins edX.

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


The US Department of Education has selected eight higher ed institutions and eight “non-traditional providers” that will work as partners to pilot the DoE’s new EQUIP experiment, meaning that students will be able to receive federal financial aid for coding bootcamps, MOOCs, and the like. Each partner has a “quality assurance entity” (one of which is Entangled Solutions, a venture fund run by Paul Freedman, who was investigated by the Justice Department regarding a partnership between his for-profit company and a university. Seems like solid oversight!) More on the news via the usual suspects: The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and Edsurge. Good thing there haven’t been any problems with for-profit higher ed and exploitation of financial aid, otherwise this would all seem like a terrible idea.

Coding Boot Camps Attract Tech Companies,” says The Wall Street Journal in a story that contains this gem:

Google, which has hired workers from Flatiron and other academies, recently studied the efficacy of coding camps. The company found that while the camps have shown promise, most of their graduates weren’t prepared for software engineering without additional training or prior experience, Maggie Johnson, Google’s director of education and university relations, said in an email.

“Can You Buy a New Job?” asks Bloomberg, with an interview with General Assembly’s Jake Schwartz.

OK, it’s not a coding bootcamp. (OR IS IT!?) But via The LA Times: “In Santa Monica, parents are paying $1,000 for a boot camp to get their kids ready for kindergarten.”

Brooks Institute, once owned by Career Education Corporation, will close this fall.

For more on accreditation and for-profits, see the accreditation section below. For more research on for-profits, see the research section below. For more on venture capital investments in for-profits, see the funding section below.

Meanwhile on Campus


How often are students tasered at school? We don’t know. From the Huffington Post, a look at school police taser policies/practices and their effects on students: “Set to Stun.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “In 2005, a court barred Vanderbilt from removing ‘Confederate’ from the facade of a building, citing the terms of a gift. The university is returning the gift at today’s value – and will now remove the word.”

“Despite the lack of a formal announcement, Columbia’s Center for Innovation and Teaching Excellence was closed and many of its programs discontinued this summer,” the Columbia Chronicle reports.

University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart is asking for an independent investigation into allegations of misuse of public funds by the university’s health-sciences leadership,” according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Accreditation and Certification


Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools this week said it will decide whether or not to sanction ITT Technical Institutes after a hearing scheduled for December, according to a federal filing from ITT.”

Go, School Sports Team!


Via the AP: “A federal judge has granted the NCAA’s motion to dismiss the governing body from a lawsuit filed by two former North Carolina athletes seeking to hold it at least partly responsible for the school’s long-running academic fraud scandal.”

Clemson’s Football Team Is Getting a Nap Room and a Lot of Other Stuff,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“In a risky and expensive endeavor, colleges are spending more and more money on athletics in hopes of earning a spot among the Power Five conferences,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Pacific Standard: “Here’s More Evidence That Not All College Sports Are Created Equal.”

From the HR Department


Via the Washington Post: “In Utah, schools can now hire teachers with no training whatsoever.”

UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks will resign. Meanwhile: “As UC Berkeley prepared to eliminate hundreds of jobs and take millions of dollars in loans to help balance its flagging budget, the campus also paid more than $200,000 to ‘improve the chancellor’s strategic profile nationally and internationally,’” writes The San Francisco Chronicle.

After laying off 1000 employees last week, the Chicago Public Schools is now looking to hire – you guessed it – 1000 teachers.

How 37 States Are Handling Teacher Shortages” by Dan Meyer.

Upgrades and Downgrades


Gawker.com will end its operations next week. Just goes to show what an angry billionaire libertarian can do to destroy a free press. (Enjoy your Thiel Fellowship, fellows.)

Via the Stanford Social Innovation Review: “Unintended Consequences.” The story of how Inigral (later Uversity) was “steered into trouble” by taking strategic investment from the Gates Foundation. (It also received funding from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. Edsurge reposted the article, but didn’t add a disclosure about its own financial relationship to the Gates Foundation or that it was co-founded by a VP of Inigral.)

Prison ed tech takes off,” Cisco says with a dollar-signs-in-eyeballs sort of excitement.

Various updates from Google: The company is “killing Google Hangouts on Air,” says The Verge. Via Edsurge: “Google Offers Free Cloud Access to Colleges, Plays Catch Up to Amazon, Microsoft.” And via the Google blog, news of more features added to the company’s pseudo-LMS. (Rafranz Davis has a good blog post on the uncritical reception of ed-tech brands and why some of these new features involve “errors in innovation.” Highlights of her post include a white guy from Google calling her out on Twitter for speaking her mind. Nice job there, Googler.)

Something something flipped classroom something something. Innovation!

Personalized CliffNotes” pretty much sums up the state of ed-tech in 2016.

Via Techcrunch: “Spotify launches a new Kids category with a focus on learning activities, language development.”

Social-emotional learning and VR. Because Stanford. (And because Edsurge.)

The latest on the LMS market – this one on D2Lfrom Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

Via Slate: “Forgiving All Student Loan Debt Would Be an Awful, Regressive Idea.”

Amazon is opening a new pickup location at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Via Technode: “This Startup Is Using WeChat Chatbots To Scale English Learning.” (“This startup” is Rikai Labs.)

Via Education Week: “Brain Imaging Eyed as Path to Better Education Software.”

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)


Coding bootcamp Galvanize has raised $45 million in Series B funding from ABS Capital Partners, Colorado Impact Fund, Haystack Partners, Greg Maffei, Aspen Grove Capital, and University Ventures. It’s raised $63 million total.

Degreed has raised $3.5 million in Series B funding from GSV Accelerator, Jump Capital, Rethink Education, and Signal Peak Ventures. This brings to $33.3 million total raised by the startup.

Coding bootcamp Byte Academy has raised $2.67 million in funding from Tri5 Ventures.

Cialfo has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Govin Capital and Koh Boon Hwee. The college admissions app has previously raised $800,000.

Testing startup Gradopedia has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from an undisclosed list of investors.

Publisher John Wiley & Sons will acquire Atypon, a publishing software company, for $120 million.

Certica Solutions has acquired Educuity.

Guardian Capital Partners has acquired Carson-Dellosa Publishing LLC from Birch Hill Equity Partners.

Data and “Research”


Via Babson College: “95 Percent of Entrepreneurs Worldwide Finance Their Own Startups. Only 0.16 percent of U.S. small businesses received venture capital in 2015.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Study Finds More Faculty Diversity at Public Institutions Than at Private Ones.”

“‘Clickbait’-esque titles work for academic papers too,” says Boing Boing.

Via The New York Times: “Last year’s law school graduates landed fewer jobs in private practice than any class in the last two decades, according to the National Association for Law Placement, which tracks developments in the legal profession.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “U.K. report on for-profit colleges in six countries finds few benefits of sector and calls for tighter regulation, while acknowledging lack of data makes it hard to set rules.” From the report, “relative to the public sector, the quality of provision, especially in the for-profits, is often found wanting, while tuition fees are usually higher.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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