Presidential-Elect Donald J. Trump

After much speculation – and meetings from those the media described as “potential candidates,” including Michelle Rhee (who visited the President-Elect with husband, “accused sexual abuser Kevin Johnson,” as Deadspin put it, in tow) – Donald Trump has made his pick for Secretary of Education: Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos. There was some talk that, despite being vociferously anti-union, Michelle Rhee’s support for the Common Core was allegedly a deal-breaker. Of course, DeVos has supported groups that back the Common Core in the past, including Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. (She serves on its board.) Edsurge parrots DeVos’s tweet – “I am not a supporter – period” – without any questions about this sudden change of heart. Edsurge says she likes ed-tech though so "everything's fine."

Betsy DeVos is part of the DeVos family, of the Amway Corporation fame. “The DeVoses sit alongside the Kochs, the Bradleys, and the Coorses as founding families of the modern conservative movement,” Mother Jones wrote in 2014. “Since 1970, DeVos family members have invested at least $200 million in a host of right-wing causes -- think tanks, media outlets, political committees, evangelical outfits, and a string of advocacy groups. They have helped fund nearly every prominent Republican running for national office and underwritten a laundry list of conservative campaigns on issues ranging from charter schools and vouchers to anti-gay-marriage and anti-tax ballot measures.”

DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, is the founder of the private military company Blackwater, infamous for its human rights violations, including the murder of 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007 by its employees. Prince and the DeVos family have been major supporters of Indiana Governor and now Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, particularly for his efforts to outlaw gay marriage and criminalize abortion.

From 1995 to 2005, DeVos sat on the board of the Acton Institute, which recently published a blog post decrying child labor laws.

Earlier this year, the DeVos family lost a huge tax break on their property after Michigan’s Department of Treasury investigated improper exemptions. Reminder: paying property taxes helps fund public schools. Not paying property taxes means you do not support public schools.

Oh. I see…

DeVos’s support for charter schools and vouchers are the signature of her efforts in Michigan, which has the least regulated charter school system in the country – “The Poster Child for How Not to do Charter Schools,” according to HuffPo. As The New York Times notes, “The Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids school districts have among the nation’s 10 largest shares of students in charters, and the state sends $1 billion in education funding to charters annually. Of those schools, 80 percent are run by for-profit organizations, a far higher share than anywhere else in the nation.” The choice of DeVos, according to Slate’s Dana Goldstein, would “gut public education.”

More on Trump’s pick – and do note how her views are often normalized and their abhorrence minimized by journalists – from NPR, Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The New York Times.

Elsewhere in this fucking disaster…

Via Education Week: “The prospect that the incoming Trump administration could scale back the federal role in civil rights enforcement in education has many rights advocates deeply worried after nearly eight years of high-profile attention to such issues under President Barack Obama.” Important to watch, particularly under a Secretary of Education like Betsy DeVos.

Via The USA Today: “About one in five American Federation of Teachers (AFT) members who cast a ballot voted for Trump, the union's leader estimated. Among the larger National Education Association (NEA), which comprises more than 3 million members, more than one in three who voted did so for the billionaire developer, early data show.”

I’m including this here mostly because it’s worth noting that, when published, the headline describing the questions about the election raised by computer science professor Alex Halderman said “activists.” Now it reads “experts.” I think the two have become conflated in frightening ways.

Via WaPo: “ The secretive brain trust of Silicon Valley insiders who are helping Trump.”

Via The New York Times: “Where Donald Trump Stands on School Choice, Student Debt and Common Core.”

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, one “silver lining” of Trump’s election is that academic researchers might not have to share their data. FFS.

More on President-Elect Trump and Trump University in the court section below. And more on how this is affecting campuses in the campus section below. And more… yeah. Everywhere. The awfulness permeates all the things…

Education Politics

Via the San Antonio Current: “Proposed Bill [in Texas] Would Make Teachers Out Their LGBT Students.” The bill would require school officials inform parents, even if the student asks for the information to be kept secret. Teachers could be terminated if they refuse to comply.

Secretary of Education John King penned a letter urging states to end corporal punishment in schools. While it’s banned in 28 states, “more than 110,000 students across the country were subjected to corporal punishments in 2013–14, according to the latest version of the Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection.” (Well hey, even if we don’t end corporal punishment, at least Trump could end Civil Rights Data Collection, and then folks with power and privilege can just pretend that this sort of thing doesn't happen.)

Via The Establishment: “Conservative Group Launches Watchlist For Liberal Professors.” One of the professors on the list responds on Facebook.

From an op-ed in The LA Times, written by Michael Hiltzik: “The Department of Education and the Social Security Administration jointly are doing yeoman’s work in identifying about 387,000 severely disabled and insolvent Americans saddled with federal student debt they can’t repay and informing them that the law allows their loans to be forgiven. But one agency still needs to act to make sure these people aren’t hit with a tax penalty when that happens: the Internal Revenue Service.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Department of Education data indicate zero borrowers are on pace to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness by 2017, a prominent higher ed group warned the department in a letter last month.” The group in question: National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. It accuses the department of creating too many administrative hurdles for people to qualify.

“The United States Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General has found in a recent report that the department’s overall information technology security is ‘not generally effective’ in meeting several federal requirements,” Campus Technology reports. “The ed department (ED) and its Federal Student Aid (FSA) office scored only 53 points out of 100 in a recent security audit.”

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “Would Trump Have Won Trump University Cases? Evidence Says He Faced Hard Fight.” The New York Times also reports that the Trump Foundation will not pay the $25 million settlement for Trump. (It has previously paid off Trump’s personal legal debts.) But Trump – of course – will be able to deduct the settlement on his taxes.

“Attorneys for Gov. Rick Snyder and state education officials say no fundamental right to literacy exists for Detroit schoolchildren who are suing the state over the quality of their education,” The Detroit News reports. Well, thank goodness no one who’s funded the Michigan GOP is going to be in charge of the nation’s literacy or quality of public education. Oh. Fuuuuck.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Student loan servicer Xerox Education Services will pay $2.4 million in a settlement agreement over allegations it mishandled students borrowers’ applications for income-based repayment plans, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday.”

“A school bus driver who authorities say was speeding along a narrow, winding road when he wrapped his vehicle around a tree was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide in the deaths of five children,” Education Week reports. More via The NYT on the Chattanooga bus crash.

Via Motherboard: “Kids Win the Right to Sue the US Government Over Climate Change.”

Testing, Testing…

Via Education Dive: “Schools turn to universal screening to increase equity in gifted programs.”

An op-ed in Inside Higher Ed by Erik Gilbert: “Why Assessment Is a Waste of Time.”

The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”

“With Trump, Investors See Profits Again in For-Profit Colleges,” writes Susan Dynarksi in The New York Times.

“Dean Dad” Matt Reed onFor-Profits, Phase Three.”

Meanwhile on Campus

Racist and anti-Semitic harassment continues on school campuses. Reports in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The New York Times, and elsewhere.

Via the AP: “Charlotte’s public school system is investigating allegations that a kindergarten teacher singled out a 5-year-old student for harassment because he’s Muslim. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wednesday that the teacher grabbed the student by the neck at one point and called him a ‘bad Muslim boy’ multiple times over several weeks.”

Gavin Newsom asks that California colleges become sanctuaries,” the Bay City News reports. Columbia University announced that it would become a sanctuary, providing financial support for undocumented students so that they can complete their education.

Via Raw Story: “Campus Trump fans compare themselves to ‘hippies protesting at Kent State’ – or ‘grunge in the 90s’.” Campus Trump fans know nothing about history.

Sojourner Truth Enslaved By Family of Rutgers’ First President,” says The Root.

This is horrible, and The Baltimore Sun should be ashamed:

Via ProPublica: “The Story Behind Jared Kushner’s Curious Acceptance into Harvard.” Spoiler alert: it involves a big donation from his father. Of course, as ProPublica notes, “Jared Kushner Isn’t Alone: Universities Still Give Rich and Connected Applicants a Leg Up.”

Deakin University gags staff over harassment case,” reports. “Dr Melanie Thomson said her former employer, Deakin University, imposed a gag order on staff preventing them from talking about complaints against a scientist who has since moved on to a more senior position at another university.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The American Bar Association, whose accrediting arm oversees law schools across the country, announced this month that it has censured Valparaiso University School of Law and placed the Charlotte School of Law on probation.”

Via The Chicago Tribune: “Three of the state’s most financially vulnerable public universities are set to receive a combined $17 million in emergency funding to support operations through the end of the year.” That’d be Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Chicago State universities.

Via the BBC: “Bletchley Park, the site of secret code-deciphering projects during World War Two, could become the centre for a new generation of codemakers and codebreakers. There are plans for a training college to teach cybersecurity skills to 16–19 year olds at the Buckinghamshire site.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via NPR: “Notre Dame Must Vacate 2012, 2013 Football Wins Over Academic Violations.” More via CHE. Notre Dame says it will appeal the NCAA’s decision.

Via The Kansas City Star: “ Former Mizzou tutor tells how, why she allegedly helped student-athletes cheat.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Kansas Cheerleaders Are Suspended From Squad Over ’KKK’ Snapchat.”

Via The USA Today: “Baylor associate athletic director Heath Nielsen charged with assaulting reporter.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Baylor University has reached an undisclosed settlement with two women who reported being gang raped by football players in 2012.”

“The Myth of the Sports Scholarshipby Brad Wolverton in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

From the HR Department

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal district judge in Texas blocked a Department of Labor overtime rule Tuesday night in a major setback for the Obama administration. The rule, which would have affected 4.2 million workers, was highly controversial among many employers, including higher education institutions. It would have raised to $47,476 from $23,660 the threshold under which salaried employees would be eligible for overtime pay.” The American Council on Education was among those opposing the new rule.

Michael Barber will leave Pearson some time next year, according to EdWeek.

Cornel West Will Return to Teach at Harvard,” The New York Times reports.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Will Trump care about student data privacy?asks WaPo’s Valerie Strauss.

Could virtual reality set new standards for educational access?asks Education Dive.

(Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

Upgrades and Downgrades

Pearson’s Bet on Common Core Fails to Pay Off,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The headline doesn’t quite match the article, which notes that “Reduced college enrollment and the closure of some for-profit colleges in the U.S. have cut college textbook sales, Pearson’s largest North American revenue stream.” Regardless of the cause, Pearson sales and share prices are down.

Analytics Literacy is a Major Limiter of Ed Tech Growth,” says Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein. Also from Feldstein: “Vendor Roles in Fostering Educational Literacies.”

“Where to Find Money for Your School’s Edtech Purchases,” according to Edsurge.

Montessori has long been alternative to ‘factory’ ed model,” says Education Dive, in a re-write of sorts of this piece in The Hechinger Report. In the new year, look for an article on me on how Montessori has been rebranded to support ed-tech marketing.

“Librarian in Black” Sarah Houghton responds to a series of statements issued by the ALA about the organization’s willingness to work with a President Trump.

Mike Caulfield onWikity, One Year Later.”

Note the framing of this NYT story: “A new private research institute financed by the billionaire James H. Simons in New York will develop software tools and apply cutting edge computing techniques to science often not possible in academia and industry.” (emphasis mine)

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

UNICAF has raised $12 million from University Ventures, CDC Group, and Savannah Fund. The company offers online degrees in Africa.

Google has acquired Quiklabs, a tech training company.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

From The Verge: “The UK is about to wield unprecedented surveillance powers – here’s what it means.”

The UK government will keep a record of every website every citizen visits for up to a year, with this information also including the apps they use on their phone, and the metadata of their calls.

This story is from August, but my understanding is that it’s now in effect at Edinburgh: “UK university is introducing a new staff monitoring policy that will require employees to tell management if they leave their ‘normal place of work’ for half a day or longer.”

Via The New York Times: “Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China.” The software will prevent stories from appearing from people’s news feeds.

Via The Daily Dot: “Twitter tells developers to stop making police surveillance tools that use its data.”

Via the Lansing State Journal: “An email sent to Michigan State University last weekend attempting to ‘extort money’ helped the university identify a data breach that affected about 400,000 records and included names, Social Security numbers and MSU identification numbers, a university spokesman said Friday evening.”

Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “University Responses to Piazza: Some good, some bad, some web site changes.”

Data and “Research”

Via Mashable: “More U.S. teenagers are battling major depression in cyber bullying era, study finds.”

“Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds,” reads The Wall Street Journal headline. (And yes, to all the clever people who’ve pointed out that adults do not either. Good eye.) Bryan Alexander has more thoughts on the Stanford study, noting that the phrase “information literacy” doesn’t appear in it.

Education, Not Income, Predicted Who Would Vote For Trump,” according to Nate Silver.

Scholastic has released its “Teacher & Principal School Report.” Among the findings: “High percentages of principals across all school poverty levels say they have students who are experiencing family or personal crisis (95%), in need of mental health services (91%), living in poverty (90%), coming to school hungry (85%), and in need of healthcare services (82%).”

Science’s Minority Talent Pool Is Growing—but Draining Away,” reports The Atlantic’s Ed Yong. “The number of Ph.D. graduates from underrepresented groups grew by nine times since 1980. The number of assistant professors from those groups grew by just 2.6 times.”

Via EduKwest: “EdTech Market Brief India Q3 2016.”

Renaissance Learning has released the results of its annual survey on what students are reading.

“Higher Ed Faculty Skeptical About Online Course Qualityaccording to a Gallup survey.

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Two recent reports that track K–12 spending reveal schools’ strong interest in purchasing security-related hardware, products, and technology.” One of the most popular pieces of technology: gun detectors. Yes, gun detectors are ed-tech.


RIP SEK. This one hurts.

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