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Presidential-Elect Donald Trump


Trump Education Secretary Pick Has Indirect Stake in Student Lender,” The Wall Street Journal reports. That’s Betsy DeVos, of course, and Social Finance a.k.a. SoFi.

Via Politico: “Trump‘s education pick says reform can ’advance God’s Kingdom’.”

Via NPR: “Trump’s Pick For Education: A Free Market Approach To School Choice.”

Via OpenSecrets.org: “Betsy DeVos and her big-giving relatives: Family qualifies as GOP royalty.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Dreamers in Jeopardy.” Trump for his part says he’ll “work something out” for them. Mmmm, I bet he will.

This Q&A with the free market fans at Reason and an attorney who represents students accused of sexual assault is, no surprise, truly awful: “Will President Trump Fire the College Sex Police.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “How Sessions Tried to Block Gay University Event.” That’s Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for Attorney General who tried in 1996 to prevent the Southeastern Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual College Conference from holding its conference at the University of Alabama.

More on Trump University in the for-profit section below.

Education Politics


“Obama Administration Mistakes Threaten Student Loan Relief Programs,” Buzzfeed reports.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Rep. Virginia A. Foxx, a North Carolina Republican who just won election to her seventh term in Congress, was named on Friday as the new chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the main policy-making panel for higher education in the chamber.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Chinese President Xi Jinping called for strengthening ideological and political education in universities and charged Communist Party of China officials with prioritizing their work in this area, according to an account of a speech he gave at a two-day meeting on ‘ideological and political work in China’s universities and colleges’ published in the state-run media outlet Xinhua.”

Via ProPublica: “New Jersey Will No Longer Collect Loans From Families of Dead Students.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “Mississippi defies national trend; decreases scrutiny of early child care quality.”

In a move that should surprise no one, Jeb Bush has joined a lobbying firm.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, introduced a bill Thursday that would require academic transcripts to show that a student has violated campus policies involving sexual violence.”

Via EdSource: “The big burden of charter school oversight.”

“Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s veto of a bill that would have eased Chicago Public Schools’ massive pension burden threatened to blow a $215 million hole into a budget that has been criticized by bankers and civic groups for its reliance on uncertain state assistance,” Governing reports.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The number of complaints filed last year with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights soared to a record 16,720, according to a report the department released Thursday. The number of complaints was a 61 percent increase over the previous year’s total.”

Education in the Courts


Via The New York Times: “In the latest episode over the proliferation of fake news and the people who believe it, a Tampa woman who thinks the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Conn., was staged has been charged with threatening a parent of one of the slain children.”

Via The New Yorker: “Gavin Grimm’s Transgender-Rights Case and the Problem with Informal Executive Action.”

Via The Washington Post: “Rolling Stone asks judge to overrule jury in U-Va. defamation case.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Colorado Supreme Court weighs challenge to law governing job protections for teachers.”

Via The New York Times: “Campus Press vs. Colleges: Kentucky Suit Highlights Free-Speech Fight.”

More on court cases in the for-profit higher education and the accreditation sections below.

Testing, Testing…


It’s time once again for one of my least favorite events in education journalism: the release of PISA scores. “The 2015 PISA Results: What Do They Mean?” asks Education Week. “U.S. now ranks near the bottom among 35 industrialized nations in math,” The Hechinger Report frets. Via the same publication: “Why America should care about its students’ lackluster performance on the global PISA tests.” “How Do American Students Compare to Their International Peers?” asks The Atlantic. “U.S. Schools May Not Have Quite the ‘Math Problem’ We Think They Do,” says Pacific Standard. Learning theorist Roger Schank says “OECD should be ashamed; PISA scores announced; doing more damage.” Education professor Yong Zhao has several blog posts on the results of PISA and TIMSS and what we can (and can’t) learn from them.

Via NJ Spotlight: “Few Class of 2016 Graduates Manage to Pass PARCC Tests.” That’s 1 in 10 students in New Jersey, to be clear. In four years time, the test will be required in order to graduate high school in the state.

Via Education Week: “The Iowa Department of Education is disputing $1.6 million in charges from a Minnesota company over a software system that repeatedly failed during mandatory statewide elementary school testing.”

Via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Former Pitt student, key figure in Chinese-U.S. college testing scam, to be deported.”

Online Education and The Once and Future “MOOC”


Deakin University in Australia will next year offer graduate degrees and certificate programs through FutureLearn, the online learning platform owned by the Open University in the U.K.,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “UT Austin and SMOCs: What these synchronous courses look like and cost.”

Via Edsurge: “Online Learning Consortium Releases New Scorecards to Evaluate Digital Classes.”

Coursera Monthly Subscriptions Channel Lynda and Pluralsight,” says EduKwest’s Kirsten Winkler.

Coding Bootcamps and the Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”


Via Bloomberg: “Want a Job in Silicon Valley? Keep Away From Coding Schools.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “After months of review, the U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday approved the proposed $1.14 billion sale of Apollo Education Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, to a group of three private equity firms.” The sale comes with conditions, including: 1) the Department of Education demands a letter of credit valued at 25% of the company’s federal funding allocation; 2) the company cannot add or change its educational offerings or open new locations until 2018; and 3) enrollment must be maintained at or beneath current levels. More via The Chronicle of Higher Education and via Bloomberg.

The Department of Education will deny federal financial aid to the for-profit Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business.

Via NPR: “What Former Employees Say ITT Tech Did To Scam Its Students.”

Via The Washington Post: “For-profit college students make a last-ditch attempt at faster debt relief.”

Rebecca Schuman explains “Why For-Profit Colleges Are Undaunted by the Trump University Case.”

Via NBC News: “Student Sues Walden University: ‘I Wasted Six Years of My Life’.”

More on court battles over accreditation of for-profits in the accreditation section below.

Meanwhile on Campus


Harvard will not designate itself a “sanctuary campus.” The University of Illinois will not designate itself one either.

UNLV Instructor Apologizes for Saying He Would Report Undocumented Students,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

No more tenure in the University of Wisconsin system. “University of Wisconsin system regents on Thursday approved a new policy mandating that administrators conduct “independent, substantive reviews” of tenured faculty members every five years,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via The Guardian: “ To Kill a Mockingbird removed from Virginia schools for racist language.”

Inside Higher Ed profiles the MasterCard Foundation, “an $828 Million Private Scholarship Program.”

White nationalism: coming soon to a campus near you. Via The Daily Dot: “University Wi-Fi named racist slur during white nationalist event.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The faculty union at Rutgers University on Friday escalated its criticism of how the university is handling faculty members’ communication, urging its members to opt of the university’s new email system or risk compromising their academic freedom.”

“Should children get to have cellphones in elementary school?” asks The Washington Post.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The ‘Computerless’ Computer Lab.”

Via BoingBoing: “University student gets a zero because her art project violated dress code.” The student in question attends BYU.

A graduate student has been arrested for allegedly stabbing and killing USC professor Bosco Tjan.

Accreditation and Certification


Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed an amicus brief in the D.C. Court of Appeals this week arguing that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau doesn’t have the authority to investigate college accreditors.” The CFPB has been blocked by a DC District Court ruling from investigating the ACICS, the accreditor for many for-profit colleges.

“A regional accreditor has placed Baylor University on warning and the University of Louisville on probation for 12 months,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Go, School Sports Team!


There’s more news about Baylor University and the fallout from its sexual assault scandal in the accreditation section above.

From the HR Department


Via The Verge: “Yik Yak lays off 60 percent of employees as growth collapses.” Not sure how anyone thought that an anonymous messaging app for college campuses was a good idea, let alone a money-making one. But it has raised $73.5 million in VC funding.

“Contract negotiations between Long Island University and its faculty union are again stalled, just three months after the parties came to a temporary agreement that ended a 12-day faculty lockout,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges.”

Via the AP: “Private university graduate students begin unionization vote.”

Teacher Hiring Poised to Rise After Years in the Doldrums,” according to EdWeek’s Market Brief. Edsource has a slightly different take on the problem: “As charter schools grow, they face challenge of hiring amid a teacher shortage.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


Via the Udacity blog: “Will Artificial Intelligence Destroy Our Jobs, or Empower Us to Unfold Our True Creative Powers?”

(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


Reuters continues its investigative series on various education (technology) scandals. The latest looks at New Oriental Education Group and college admissions fraud.

Via Edsurge: “The Edtech World is a ‘Swamp of Gimmicks’ – and Here’s How We Can Drain It.” Factoid: did you know that “drain the swamp” was a phrase invoked and a plan devised by Mussolini?

Also via Edsurge: “Meet Intel Education Accelerator’s Newest Cohort of Edtech Visionaries.”

ClassDojo Is Teaching Kids Empathy In 90% Of K–8 Schools Nationwide,” says Fast Company. It’s apparently teaching empathy with five-minute animated videos. Good luck with that.

It’s CS Week, featuring an Hour of Code and a lot of branded content and PR opportunities. “ Computer science education expands with new AP courses,” says Education Dive, arguing that schools should do more than just an “Hour of Code” – they should enrich the College Board. EdWeek’s Market Brief reports that “Tech Giant Oracle Makes Billion-Dollar Pledge for Coding Education in Europe.”

Pay attention to student loan companies! “USA Funds, which has played a growing role in education philanthropy and investing in the last few years, announced on Wednesday that it would shed its loan-guarantee affiliates,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Here’s another trend to watch: how jail tech and ed-tech will merge. Via NPR: “Video Calls Replace In-Person Visits In Some Jails.”

“What If We Stopped Calling Them Classrooms?” asks Edsurge. Whoa. What if.

From Mike Caulfield, the American Democracy Project’s first “civic fellow”: “Announcing the Digital Polarization Initiative, an Open Pedagogy Project.” Among the things the initiative will research: “The impact of algorithmic filters and user behavior on what we see in platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, which tend to limit our exposure to opinions and lifestyles different than our own.”

Artificial Intelligence Could Help Colleges Better Plan What Courses They Should Offer,” says Edsurge. More promoting the wonders of AI in this Edsurge story: “A Siri for Higher Ed Aims to Boost Student Engagement.”

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)


IOT e-toy maker Osmo has raised $24 million from Mattel, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Collab+Sesame, Accel Partners, Upfront Ventures, and K9 Ventures. The company has raised $38.5 million total.

Peergrade has raised $300,000 from Emerge Education and Nordic Makers.

VoLT, a vocabulary app, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from YMS Mobitech.

PowerSchool will buy SunGuard K–12.

The Waterford Institute will acquire now defunct Curriculet.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance


“Talking Dolls May Spread Children’s Secrets, Privacy Groups Allege,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Buzzfeed has more on the FTC complaint filed over the My Friend Cayla doll and the I-Que robot: these toys “collect personal information from children and send it to a software company that contracts with military and intelligence agencies.”

“So-So Social Media Privacy? State Legislators Should Reject New Model Bill and Stick With ACLU’s Gold Standard,” says the ACLU. The model bill in question has been drafted by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), an association of lawyers, and the ACLU has several concerns about who and how it would protect.

Via The Guardian: “Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft team up to tackle extremist content.”

The companies are to create a shared database of unique digital fingerprints – known as “hashes” – for images and videos that promote terrorism. This could include recruitment videos or violent terrorist imagery or memes. When one company identifies and removes such a piece of content, the others will be able to use the hash to identify and remove the same piece of content from their own network.

Via the BBC: “French privacy row over mass ID database.”

More on surveillance in the campus section above.

Data and “Research”


Common Sense Media surveyed parents on their own digital media habits. “On any given day, parents of American tweens and teens average more than nine hours with screen media each day.”

Corporate-backed “privacy” organization, the Future of Privacy Forum, has released its latest survey on what “public school parents actually know and want concerning the use of technology and collection of data in their children’s schools, as well as their perspectives on the benefits and risks of student data use within the educational system.”

“Does Your State Provide Good Data On Your Schools? Probably Not,” says NPR.

Via The Hechinger Report: “Touted as the next big solution, competency ed programs that stress skills aren’t always a ‘quick and easy moneymaker,’ study finds.”

Via Pacific Standard: “Which States Have More School Shootings, and Why?”

“A Population in Flux Forces Colleges to Adapt,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education, drawing on a recent report on shifting demographics from WICHE.

Via Bryan Alexander: “New findings on income inequality, and there’s very little good news.”

Via Bloomberg: “Rich-Poor Achievement Gap Is Narrowing in American Education.”

Data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates: “American universities awarded a record number of doctorates in 2015 – although the rate of growth in the number of Ph.D. recipients continued a several-year decline. And the 55,006 recipients were more likely to be men and to be American citizens or permanent residents than they were the year before.”

“After falling, college graduation rates begin to rebound,” The Hechinger Report reports.

“For College Students With Kids, Getting Cheap Child Care Is A Challenge,” NPR reports, drawing on a study from Child Care Aware of America.

The Wall Street Journal ranks schools and finds “Midwest Colleges Rated Highest by Students for Career Preparation.”

Edsurge has released the final article in its AT&T-funded research report on “the state of ed-tech.”

“Is Ed-Tech research nearing its ’Big Tobacco’ moment?” ask Neil Selwyn, Thomas Hillman, and Jonas Linderoth.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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