Education Politics

Via Education Week: “Maine Gov. Paul LePage has called for a review of his state’s groundbreaking 1-to–1 student computing initiative, highlighting the growing pains nagging an educational-technology movement now well into its second decade.”

Via the Huffington Post: “On Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared via executive order that beginning in September 2017, the Maryland school year won’t start until after Labor Day – a decision that prompted sharp criticism from school leaders, who are accusing Hogan of favoring the tourism industry over education.” I mean, paying for air conditioning in schools would just be a bridge too far.

Via The New York Times: “Broadband Law Could Force Rural Residents Off Information Superhighway.” The headline should, perhaps, read “laws,” as it’s currently restrictive laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that are curbing city-run Internet service providers who are reaching customers in areas that corporate providers won’t go.

Via Mother Jones: “How the Justice Department Is Trying to Dismantle Georgia’s Segregated Special-Education System.”

Presidential Campaign Politics

Hillary Clinton has named Rohit Chopra to her transition team. Chopra worked at the CFPB and, while there, “sued two for-profit-college companies – ITT Educational Services Inc. and Corinthian Colleges Inc. – over accusations about abusive lending practices,” as The Chronicle of Higher Education notes.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Hillary Clinton’s plan to eliminate public college tuition for families with incomes up to $125,000 would lift enrollment at two- and four-year public institutions by between 9 and 22 percent – in part by draining as many as 15 percent of students away from private nonprofit colleges, a new analysis predicts.”

Education in the Courts

Via the San Francisco Chronicle: “A federal judge refused Friday to block California’s new vaccination law, which requires children in public and private schools to be inoculated against 10 contagious illnesses and eliminates an exemption based on their parents' personal beliefs.”

“Three months after the former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail for sexual assault, he was released on Friday,” NPR reports.

“The Federal Trade Commission on Friday filed a complaint against the academic journal publisher OMICS Group and two of its subsidiaries, saying the publisher deceives scholars and misrepresents the editorial rigor of its journals,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The lawsuit contends that the publisher is “predatory” because it charges scholars to have their work published in open-access journals.

Via Ars Technica: “AT&T’s throttling victory may hinder FTC’s power to protect consumers.” It’s now unclear, observers say, if the FTC can regulate companies like Google or Verizon.

Via Education Week: “A judge has ruled against the Detroit school district in its lawsuit against two teachers involved in teacher sickouts. The district failed to meet its burden of proof and interpreted a state law in a way that is ‘offensive to fundamental rights of free speech,’ the judge said.”

Via The Atlantic: “A Federal Judge’s Ruling Against North Carolina’s HB2.”

Via SFGate: “Ex-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle is suing his victim’s parents.”

More court cases and legal decisions in the testing section and in the for-profit higher ed section below.

Testing, Testing…

A Reuters exclusive, a story in a long line of investigative reporting by Reuters on the testing industry’s security problems: “FBI raids home of ex-College Board official in probe of SAT leak.”

Via the AP: “A judge ruled Friday that school districts [in Florida] can’t hold 3rd graders back just because they score badly on a mandated standardized reading test, saying that classroom grades and teacher evaluations have to be considered.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Kaplan Will Offer Free Online PSAT Prep.”

“Two assessment companies – Educational Testing Service and Data Recognition Corp. – are the latest to have incurred the wrath of state education officials, who blame them for problems that played out on their states’ exams,” Education Week reports. The states in question: Texas and Nevada.

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

Just a few weeks after Daphne Koller’s announcement she was leaving the MOOC startup she co-founded, Coursera unveiled “Coursera for Business” this week, marking its pivot from “democratizing higher ed” to “training corporate employees.” More via Techcrunch.

(More on Coursera and certification in the certification section below.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Humans, the Latest MOOC Feature.” Carl Straumsheim writes that “One of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s most popular massive open online courses is adding a feature not seen in any of its other humanities MOOCs: instructors grading essays.” Of course, you have to pay $300 for this “features.”

“Can Startup College Minerva Reinvent The Ivy League Model For The Digital Age?” asks Fast Company. (I’m guessing that Minerva is knocking on doors, trying to raise more venture capital. These sorts of puff pieces written by tech-friendly journalists often precede a funding announcement.)

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

ITT Tech Might Be Shutting Down, Like, Today,” Gizmodo published this morning. Earlier this week, the for-profit chain halted all enrollments. This comes after last week's decision by the Department of Education that the school could no longer utilize federal financial aid. Via Inside Higher Ed: “With ITT Tech headed toward possible collapse, its students begin weighing whether to transfer or to seek to have their federal loans forgiven.”

“Crackdown on For-Profit Colleges May Free Students and Trap Taxpayers,” The New York Times frets.

Code Fellows has received approval from the VA and the Washington state government to accept GI Bill funds for its coding bootcamp.

The Center for Excellence in Higher Education, which owns a chain of career colleges, is suing the Department of Education, The New York Times reports, “accusing education officials of pursuing a political agenda. The suit argues that the department is trying to put the colleges out of business by failing to classify them as nonprofit educational institutions, curbing their access to federal student aid dollars.”

More data on military enrollment in for-profits in the “research” section below.

Meanwhile on Campus

Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past,” says The New York Times, including offering preferential admission status – like the children of alumna already receive – for descendants of slaves owned by the university. Reparations? Nope, not according to Tressie McMillan Cottom, which she says must contain three components: “acknowledgement, restitution, and closure.” See also: Adrienne Green in The Atlantic who writes that the move by Georgetown still “falls short.”

Via Mic: “Pretoria Girls High School students are protesting racist hair policy, code of conduct.”

“Investigation Finds Phillips Andover Faculty Engaged in Sexual Misconduct With Students,” The New York Times reports.

The destruction of CUNY continues. Via The New York Times: “$76 Where There Should Be $600,000: Missing City College Donation Prompts Inquiry.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Campuses With Child-Care Centers Are on the Decline, Report Says.”

Via The New York Times: “Lead Tests on New York City Schools’ Water May Have Masked Scope of Risk.”

This week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: “Can a Private Company Teach Troubled Kids?” The story, in The Atlantic, looks at the Richmond Alternative School in Virginia which will now be run by Camelot Education.

Via The Washington Post: “Meet the parents who won’t let their children study literature.”

Salesforce on Thursday announced a donation of $8.5 million to San Francisco and Oakland schools to support computer science education,” Edsurge reports. “The San Francisco-based software company will continue a four-year partnership with San Francisco Unified School District. Of the $8.5 million, $6 million goes to San Francisco and $2.5 million goes to Oakland Unified School District.”

Berkeley Suspends Its ‘Global Campus’ Because of Budget Deficit,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via The New York Times: “Victim in New Hampshire Prep School ‘Senior Salute’ Case Speaks Out.” That’s a euphemism there for “sexual assault.”

“Some of England’s most prestigious universities are considering whether to opt out of the teaching excellence framework,” according to the Times Higher Education. The framework demands that schools be assessed “according to their performance on student satisfaction, retention and graduate employment, as well as through institutional submissions.”

Accreditation and Certification

When Coursera announced its pivot to corporate training, it boasted that its certificates were the second most frequently listed on LinkedIn. Here’s the Top 100 list, for what it’s worth. Number 1? No surprise, it’s the certificate offered by LinkedIn-owner Microsoft. Microsoft first launched these in 1992, but let’s all pretend like the learn-to-code alt-certification thing is brand new.

Via Edsurge: “Unity Brings Game-Development Certification to Higher Ed.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has taken note of turmoil at the University of Louisville, saying in a recent letter a Board of Trustees overhaul appears to put the university out of compliance with standards.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Penn State To Honor Joe Paterno Before Temple Game,” according to Onward State. From Boing Boing: “Paterno was fired in 2011 after it emerged that during his tenure, [assistant coach] Jerry Sandusky had assaulted dozens of youngsters in his care. Sandusky was ultimately convicted on 45 separate charges. Though Paterno claimed to have been ignorant of his actions – pretending at one point not even to know what ‘sodomy’ means – it later emerged he knew of Sandusky’s activities since the 1970s.” This is so offensive, I'm not sure what to say. But hey, at least Paterno never sat down for the National Anthem, amirite.

Via Boing Boing: “Texas high school football stadium to cost $70 million.”

From the HR Department

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Faculty Lockout Expected at Long Island U Brooklyn.” Via Emily Drabinski: “Spread the Word! Part-time job ads are for replacement workers!”

Inside Higher Ed highlights anti-union university websites from the likes of Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. In other anti-union bullshit from people you should never listen to: “Grad student unionization will negatively impact credit,” says Moody’s.

“Despite Vergara Ruling, Teacher-Tenure Battles Set to Heat Up,” says Education Week.

Upgrades and Downgrades

From Sara Goldrick-Rab: “The FAST Fund,” a grassroots effort to meet the emergency financial needs of college students. (I donated. There were definitely times during my college career where I was only able to pull through because of this sort of generosity from others.) More on this effort from Tressie McMillan Cottom, who’s joined the organization’s board.

Via The New York Times: “SpaceX Rocket Explodes at Launchpad in Cape Canaveral.” Among its cargo: a Facebook/ satellite that was supposed to provide Internet access Facebook to African countries.

“Digital learning systems now charge students for access codes needed to complete coursework, take quizzes, and turn in homework,” Buzzfeed – which consistently does some of the best education journalism – reports.

Amazon has ended its student loan program partnership with Wells Fargo. Last week, the CFPB announced the bank would have to pay $4 million to settle a probe into Wells Fargo student loan practices.

Via the EFF: “Stupid Patent of the Month: Elsevier Patents Online Peer Review.” More on the patent via The Chronicle of Higher Education. Shawn Graham responds to this patent on peer review by patenting Elsevier.

The Chronicle of Higher Education on “The New Cheating Economy.”

The bookmarking service Readability will shut down at the end of September.

ProPublica on “Discrimination by Design” in digital technologies.

Congrats, education! You made it into Snopes, which had to debunk an image claiming Bill and Melinda Gates are giving away free textbooks.

On the heels of John Oliver’s segment blasting charter schools, the Center for Education Reform is offering $100,000 to the charter school that can create the best rebuttal video.

Marvel Announces Science, Tech, and Math-Devoted Comic Book Covers,” Popular Science reports. (Note: just the cover will be education-related.)

Samsung will recall some 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7s after battery problems cause some devices to catch on fire.

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

StudySoup has raised $1.7 million for a marketplace where students can buy and sell their class notes. (This idea just never dies, does it, despite the failed startups that litter its history.) The funding comes from 1776 DC, Canyon Creek Capital, 500 Startups, John Katzman, Jake Gibson, and Leonard Lodish.

Tutoring company GradeSlam has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Anges Quebec, BDC Capital, Birchmere Ventures, Philip A Cutler, and Real Ventures.

Nepris has raised $1 million in seed funding from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. The startup, which helps corporations get their message into classrooms, has raised $1.55 million total.

Sorting Hat Technologies, which runs the online education platform Unacademy, has raised $1 million from Ashish Tulsian, Blume Ventures, Sandeep Tandon, TraxcnLabs, Waterbridge Ventures, Aprameya Radhakrishna, Binny Bansal, Kunal Shah, Phanindra Sama, Sachin Bansal, Sujeet Kumar, Sumit Jain, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, and Vikas Malpani. The startup has raised $1.5 million total.

ConveGenius has raised $900,0000 from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation for its “edutainment” offerings.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

The privacy-violating hashtag #whatIwishmyteacherknew has been turned into a book, so that the teacher behind this can profit from her students’ struggles. So unbelievably gross. Here’s a different example of ownership (and the surrender of ownership) of students’ stories via the Star Tribune: “Retired Minn. teacher’s final assignment: Giving back his students’ stories. Richard Roach retired from teaching 23 years ago, but he’s still passing back ”autobiographies“ he assigned decades ago.”

“Students, Directory Information, and Social Media – Part 2” by Bill Fitzgerald.

Felician University is investigating a possible hack of its housing director’s email after a mass email was sent out denigrating black students,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Police in South Carolina are beefing up patrols because children have reported clowns are trying to lure them into the woods.

Data and “Research”

My latest calculations on ed-tech venture capital: “Ed-Tech Startup Funding Data: August 2016.”

More on startup funding via The New York Times: “Warned of a Crash, Start-Ups in Silicon Valley Narrow Their Focus.”

More on ed-tech funding via Education Week’s Market Brief: “Self-Paced E-Learning Market Evaporating, Report Finds.”

Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Marketing Claims From Adaptive Learning Vendors As Barrier To Adoption.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Military Students More Likely to Attend For-Profits and Online.” That’s according to the latest data released by the National Center for Education Statistics, which covers up to the year 2012.

“The 7-year-old economic recovery has not been kind to the American public education system,” writes FiveThirtyEight. “In May 2008, as the Great Recession was just beginning, U.S. school departments employed 8.4 million teachers and other workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This past May, they employed just 8.2 million – despite public-school enrollments that the Department of Education estimated have risen by more than 1 million students during the same period. Student-teacher ratios are as high as they’ve been since the late 1990s, though they’re still well below their levels of the 1980s and most of the 1990s.”

Print is still much more popular than digital. This and other findings are in the latest Pew Research on “Book Reading 2016.”

“We Are Reading Less Literature,” says the Pacific Standard, drawing on a report from the National Endowment for the Arts.

This year’s PDK/Gallup poll has found – and I hope you’re sitting down for this bombshell – that Americans have very different opinions on the purpose of education.

EducationNext has also released its poll on education reform, and EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin has strong words about the “glitch in the Matrix” involving its questions on blended learning.

Via WaPo: “Study: Robot baby dolls don’t curb teen pregnancies. In fact, they may increase abortions.” So don’t worry, babies. Robots probably won’t take your jobs. Yet.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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