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The Trump Administration


Inside Higher Ed asks what might happen to Title IX and investigations into campus sexual assaults under the Trump Administration.

Via The Washington Post: “Democratic senators press Trump’s education pick Betsy DeVos to pay years-old $5.3 million fine.”

Via The Detroit Free Press: “Betsy DeVos’ trouble with data.”

Via Education Week: “Who Is Part of Ed. Sec. Nominee Betsy DeVos’ Policy Circle?”

Via The New York Times: “Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools.”

Jennifer Berkshire looks at Betsy DeVos and her connection to the fringes of the Christian Right: “Culture Warrior Princess.”

Via The New York Times: “How Trump’s Education Nominee Bent Detroit to Her Will on Charter Schools.”

Via Politico: “DeVosMichigan schools experiment gets poor grades.”

Via The New Yorker: “Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools.”

Via the AP: “Fearing Trump crackdown, ‘dreamers’ advised to end travel.”

Trump launches war on unions,” according to Politico.

Via The Intercept: “Transition Adviser Peter Thiel Could Directly Profit From Mass Deportations.”

Elon Musk and the chief executive of Uber are now advising Donald Trump,” The Washington Post reports.

“As Trumplethinskin lets down his hair for tech, shame on Silicon Valley for climbing the Tower in silence,” Recode Kara Swisher writes.

Lots of folks in ed-tech seem super excited about Trump too, including Knewton’s Jose Ferreira, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Harold O. Levy, and KnowledgeWorks’ Lillian Pace.

Meanwhile, here’s a list of people in tech who are stating publicly that they will not build a Muslim registry, something that Trump has proposed. Bill Fitzgerald on “Why I Signed neveragain.tech.”

When Donald met Kanye:


Education Politics


On Wednesday, the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, the Hanover School District 28 school board in Colorado voted to allow its teachers to carry concealed handguns in school.

Elsewhere in guns on campus, this via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Campus Concealed-Carry Bill Awaits Ohio Governor’s Approval.”

Via Edsurge: “Minnesota Higher Ed Office Says Udacity’s Nanodegrees Might Violate State Law.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler will step down next month, leaving a significant legacy on issues of concern to K–12 educators and creating uncertainty about what direction the commission might take under new Republican leadership,” Education Week reports. Wheeler supported e-Rate reform and “net neutrality.” The Trump administration? Not so much.

Via Education Week: “GOP Lawmakers Put ESSA Accountability, Teacher-Prep Regulations on Hit List.”

Via The New York Times: “Google Effect Rubs Off on Schools in One Rural Oklahoma Town.”

“The Education of Barack Obama,” by The Nation’s Dana Goldstein.

Via The Hechinger Report: “Mississippi’s early ed shakeup: State reorganizes key child care services, launches new family tracking system.”

“Having unexpectedly found itself handing off the baton to a Republican administration in January, the U.S. Department of Education is racing to finish a slate of Obama administration priorities. But few of the department’s remaining tasks are as daunting as processing thousands of debt-relief claims filed by former students of closed for-profit colleges,” writes Inside Higher Ed. The Department of Education has also announced “an experiment to find the best loan counseling services for student borrowers,” Inside Higher Ed reports, as well as the names of new loan collector contracts.

Testing, Testing…


Via Reuters: “College Board faces rocky path after CEO pushes new vision for SAT.”

“Students with disabilities will soon have an easier time requesting test accommodations from the College Board,” Education Week reports.

“What countries can learn from PISA tests” – at least, according to The Economist.

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


“A judge will allow Ohio’s education department to review attendance records that could force Ohio’s largest online charter to return millions of its funding,” says the AP.

Via Chalkbeat: “The broken promise of Indiana’s online schools.”

“Some shareholders in K12 Inc., the largest for-profit operator of online schools in the country, are calling on the company to disclose how much it spends on lobbying and advertising,” Education Week reports.

edX lists its most popular courses of the year.

UT Austin and SMOCs: What do we know about whether they work?” asks Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

“Online Education Pioneer Boots Up a Jobs Program for the Tech Industry,” the MIT Technology Review reports. That “online education pioneer” is Sebastian Thrun. More on the possible legal troubles this program faces in the politics section above.

Coding Bootcamps and the “New” “For-Profit Higher Ed”)


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “DeVry University and its parent company will pay $100 million to settle a lawsuit, brought by the Federal Trade Commission, that claimed the for-profit institution had misled prospective students. A news release from the commission says the settlement ‘secures significant financial redress for tens of thousands of students harmed by DeVry’s conduct.’” More via The New York Times and from the FTC.

Via The Huffington Post: “Two former high-ranking executives of Trump University are now two of the top executives at a Florida-based career college, Ultimate Medical Academy, that has 13,000 students enrolled, has been receiving more than $150 million annually in federal student aid, and is accredited by the imperiled agency ACICS.”

More on possible debt relief for students of for-profit colleges in the politics section above.

Meanwhile on Campus


“There Have Been Over 200 School Shooting Incidents Since The Sandy Hook Massacre,” The Huffington Post reminds us. This week marked the fourth anniversary of the shootings at the Newton elementary school.

Via The New York Times: “On Campus, Trump Fans Say They Need ‘Safe Spaces’.”

Via New York Magazine: “Alt-Right Troll Milo Yiannopoulos Uses Campus Visit to Openly Mock a Transgender Student.”

CCSF can’t prove it taught 16,000 students, must pay $39 million,” The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill says this is the “price of faculty not using LMS.” Rather, it’s the price of deciding that “proof” of online education requires the LMS.

Via The New York Times: “Success Academy Buys Space in Manhattan Tower for 2 New Schools.” (It’s not Trump Tower, don’t worry, Eva Moskowitz fans.)

Also via The New York Times: “New York Charters Enroll Fewer Homeless Pupils Than City Schools.”

Via The Times-Picayune: “Last 5 New Orleans public schools expected to become charter operations.”

Via The Houston Chronicle: “Facing pressure to cut special education, Texas schools shut out English Language Learners.”

“Are Colleges Engines of Inequality?” – a new report from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via KQED: “Homeless U: First Shelter Just for College Students Opens Its Doors.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Colby-Sawyer College, a private college in New Hampshire, has announced cuts in staff positions and is also eliminating some majors.” One of the majors cut: English. Can you be a SLAC if you don’t offer a degree in English?

The War on Xmas Will Be Fought in Schools


A school in Texas made a teacher take down a decoration that read “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord … That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.” WWJD: she sued. A federal judge issued an injunction and so the decoration can remain.

Accreditation and Credentialing


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “John B. King Jr., the secretary of education, on Monday upheld the U.S. Department of Education's decision to revoke the federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, an agency that had accredited for-profit colleges that suffered recent high-profile collapses.”

Barbara Beno, the president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College, has been placed on leave, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“What does a high school diploma prove?” asks The Connecticut Mirror.

More on MOOC “degrees” and possible legal troubles in the politics section above.

Go, School Sports Team!


Via IndyStar: “A 20-year toll: 368 gymnasts allege sexual exploitation.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The University of Minnesota’s football players announced on Thursday that the entire team would boycott practices and other team activities – even a December 27 appearance in the Holiday Bowl, if need be – to protest the university’s suspension of 10 players from the team in connection with a campus investigation of a sexual-assault complaint.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Following similar scandals involving sexist, racist and homophobic online communication among some male athletes at Harvard and Columbia Universities and Amherst College, Princeton University on Thursday announced that it was suspending its men’s swimming and diving team.”

Via The Casper Star Tribune: “University of Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman said Wednesday he’s confident the university can cover the recent contract extension for football coach Craig Bohl without any additional financial aid from the state. Bohl is getting a pay raise to $1.4 million a year, starting next year. He is currently guaranteed $850,000 a year.” The University of Wyoming has lost some $41 million in funding from the state over the past two years, and as a result it has slashed departments and staff. But the football team is a priority, clearly.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Citing high-profile cases of academic fraud at some of the country’s most visible universities, the American Council on Education released a report today urging colleges and universities to better align their athletics departments with their academic mission and to ‘ensure a culture of integrity.’”

From the HR Department


Heather Hiles, formerly the CEO of portfolio company Pathbrite (which was sold to Cengage Learning in 2015) will be the new “deputy director of postsecondary success” at the Gates Foundation.

The Sacramento Bee reports that former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi is being considered to lead the school’s Feminist Research Institute. Maybe she can do for the online reputation of white feminism what she did to obscure the university’s pepper-spray incident.

Via The New York Times: “Columbia Graduate Students Vote Overwhelmingly to Unionize.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Most Colleges Will Change Overtime Policies Despite Judge’s Blocking of New Rule.”

“A Gadsden City Schools principal has been suspended after coming under fire for a social media post he made following Trump’s election,” the AP reports. His Facebook post: “All I can say is, Trump was elected two days ago and we already have actual white flour American rolls in the lunchroom instead of the Communist wheat bread that’s been served for the past few years.”

Upgrades and Downgrades


Via Backchannel: “Inside Peter Thiel’s Genius Factory.”

Also via Backchannel: “A Secret Ops AI Aims to Save Education.” Oh goody. Secret ops and AI.

The BBC reports that “Cuba signs deal for faster internet access to Google content.” Think again if you believe Google supports “net neutrality.”

In other “don’t believe ‘don’t be evil’” news: “Google Won’t Alter the Holocaust-Denying Results For ‘Did the Holocaust Happen’,” says Gizmodo. Google search is fundamentally broken if this is the first result you get. Broken.

Google Tackles Graduation with Two New Features,” according to Edsurge. That is, you can get emails about what’s going on in Google Classroom. Google’s gonna “fix” graduation problems but you can’t even search for “Is Elvis still alive” without getting a wrong answer.

Via CNBC: “Pearson’s marketing chief on the company’s virtual tutors and digital education transformation.”

Via the press release: “Pearson Releases Research-Based Learning Design Principles for Public Use.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at how 50 years of technologytransformed education forever.” What’s so great about technology is that it has “transformed education forever” and yet you still hear ed-tech advocates insisting that education has not changed in hundreds of years. Both/and, I guess.

Campus Technology reports that “Elsevier Debuts Metrics Tracking Journal Performance.” Meanwhile, “Germany-wide consortium of research libraries announce boycott of Elsevier journals over open access,” according to BoingBoing.

Via Techcrunch: “Family friendly streaming service VidAngel found to be in violation of law, ordered to shut down.”

Via NPR: “Kids In Spain Rebel Against Homework, And Parents Are Their Biggest Boosters.”

The latest from Stanford history professor on Larry Cuban on “personalized learning” in Silicon Valley area schools.

Augmented reality startup Magic Leap is unbelievable. (Because it’s “smoke and mirrors.”)

The Business of Ed-Tech


Podotree has raised $107 million from Anchor Equity Partners and GIC. The Korean educational app-maker has raised $116.93 million total.

Pluralsight has raised $30 million “En Route to IPO,” says Edsurge, rewriting CNBC’s reporting and not even bothering to add value. Like, say, remind folks that former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined the skills-training company’s board this summer. Pluralsight has raised $192.5 million total. This latest round came from investors Insight Venture Partners and Iconiq Capital.

Inkling probably doesn’t “count” as ed-tech any longer since it’s pivoted away from the digital textbook business. But it’s raised $25 million from Sapphire Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Tenaya Capital. The startup has raised $102.12 million total.

Curriculum maker XSEED Education has raised $10 million from Verlinvest.

MasteryConnect has raised $4.5 million “to refocus on core product and profits.” Investors in this round include Catamount Ventures, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Dell Foundation, Pelion Ventures, and Trinity Ventures. The testing company has raised $33.63 million.

Codementor has raised $1.6 million “to become elite marketplace for freelance developers.” Investors include WI Harper. The company has raised $3.4 million total.

Knowledgehook has raised $902,810 from Sayan Navaratnam, Steve Case, and John Abele. The startup uses “real-time student data to improve teacher instruction.”

Math education startup Math Buddy has raised $438,000 from Menterra Venture Advisors.

Next Education has acquired Xolvr.

Investors See Promise in Ed-Tech Sector Despite Challenges,” says Education Week. Of course they do.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance


You know what’s cooler than a million hacked Yahoo accounts?

Via NBC Washington: “Public Schools Data Breach Affects 1,000 Former Frederick County Students.”

When Evernote updated its privacy policy, the new terms said that the company’s employees would be able to read people’s notes in order to improve its “machine learning.” Needless to say, folks were upset, and despite insisting it wasn’t a big deal at first, the company has now changed its mind. You’ll have to opt-in to having your notes perused.

Inside Higher Ed reports that a student filmed a psychology instructor at Orange Coast College as she made comments in class about Donald Trump and posted the video to the College Republicans’ Facebook page. She’s had to flee the state because of threats.

And I guess that’s why I’m a little skeptical about professors clamoring to be on “the watchlist.” A better tactic, I’d argue, is to make sure your department and institution have concrete steps they’ll take in order to protect academic freedom and – quite literally – protect academics’ lives when these sorts of threats occur.

The Washington Post asks, “When every moment of childhood can be recorded and shared, what happens to childhood?”

Via Slate: “Wrongful Arrest by Software.” No, it isn’t about education directly, but predictive analytics are supposedly “the next big thing,” and let’s be honest about how discriminatory and flawed this software is.

Via The Telegraph: “Test predicts which children will grow up to be drain on society – when they are just three years old.” “A drain on society.”

There’s more on surveillance and predictive analytics in the research section below.

Data and “Research”


Via Edsurge: “New Research From Civitas Learning Asks, ‘Who’s Likely to Succeed in College?’”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Language education is dwindling at every level, from K–12 to postsecondary, and a diminishing share of U.S. residents speak languages other than English, according to a new report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.”

“Cuts in Spending for Research Worldwide May Threaten Innovation,” the OECD contends.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Recent college graduates were more likely than those in prior decades to visit a career center while in college but are less likely to view their interactions as ‘very helpful,’ according to the newest data from an annual Gallup-Purdue University study of college graduates.”

Via The Guardian: “Gendered toys could deter girls from career in engineering, report says.”

“Older Americans Went Back To School During The Recession. Did It Pay Off?” FiveThirtyEight asks.

Via NPR: “After 50 Years, Head Start Struggles With Uneven Quality.”

The Hechinger Report looks at campus policing: “Data shows that just having a school-based police officer makes it more likely that a child will be referred to law enforcement for even minor infractions — potentially pushing kids into the justice system for misdeeds like vandalism, more generally known as the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Via The Awl: “America’s Worst Schools, Ranked.” (By tweets.)

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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