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Education Politics


“The Free-College Dream Didn’t End With Trump’s Election,” The Atlantic pronounces, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his plan for tuition-free degrees at the state’s public colleges and universities. More details on the proposal, which would extend to families earning $125,000 or less, from Inside Higher Ed. Some have scoffed at the proposal, including Matthew Chingos who says it won’t really benefit low-income students, to which Sara Goldrick-Rab responds, “Of course, low-income students win with free tuition.” “Is Free College Really Free?” asks NPR’s Anya Kamenetz.

Politico has the paperwork Betsy DeVos, President-Elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has filed for her Senate approval process. In addition to all the campaign donations, do note all the yacht clubs and country clubs she’s a member of.

Via The Washington Post: “‘School choice’ or ‘privatization’? A guide to loaded education lingo in the Trump era.”

Via Politico: “Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson stressed Tuesday that federal authorities should not use private information of so-called Dreamers to deport them – an implicit warning to President-elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to unravel executive actions that have granted key benefits to more than 740,000 young undocumented immigrants.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on Thursday introduced and said he would push legislation – similar to a controversial North Carolina law – that would bar public colleges and universities from letting transgender people use multiple-unit bathrooms other than those associated with their biological gender at birth.” More via The Pacific Standard.

Title IX Protects Identities But Can Complicate Justice,” says NPR.

Via The Guardian: “Government plans to fast-track degree-awarding powers to new startup institutions as part of its controversial higher education proposals are ‘a risk too far’, experts in the sector are warning.”

“Republicans Should Rethink Plans to Privatize Student Lendingsay Beth Akers and Matthew M. Chingos writing for Real Clear Education.

Via Education Week: “Trump Taps Rob Goad as White House Education Adviser.” Goad was once the top aide to Congressman Luke Messer (R-Ind.).

Education in the Courts


Next week, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about IEPs and what benefits these must provide under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The SCOTUSblog has a preview.

Via the AP: “A fired Kentucky high school principal has admitted to seizing students’ phones so that he could steal pornographic images and trade them online, investigators said.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Chicago State U. Settles Whistle-Blower’s Lawsuit for $1.3 Million.”

Via the CBC: “Student charged with cyber crimes in U of A malware breach.” U of A here, for non-Canadians, is the University of Alberta.

Via Reuters: “Judge blocks law limiting incoming North Carolina governor’s power.”

More legal maneuvering in the for-profit higher ed section below.

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


CSU signs deal to record, broadcast classroom lectures,” says the San Francisco Examiner. (The deal was signed with Sonic Foundry.)

“The Future is Artificial Intelligence,” says edX.

Star Pubs and Bars launch “free e-learning for all” about how to run a pub.

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


Via Inside Higher Ed: “A Minnesota judge this week ruled that Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business, two embattled for-profits, must pay restitution to more than 1,200 defrauded students.”

Furniture, fixtures, and equipment from the bankrupt ITT are up for auction online.

“A group of five former ITT Technical Institute students have filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana seeking to be named creditors in the defunct for-profit chain’s bankruptcy proceedings,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via the BBC: “Fake university degree websites shut down.”

The coding bootcamp Springboard will guarantee jobs for its graduates, Edsurge reports. (This prompts a “disclosure alert” – a new feature I’m starting this year to call out the financial ties between ed-tech companies. Edsurge shares an investor with Springboard – John Katzman. The story included no disclosure of that relationship.)

Meanwhile on Campus


The University of California system is proposing the first tuition increase in six years.

Via NPR: “Fisk University Works To Move Past Cash-Strapped History.”

Via Willamette Week: “‘Sanctuary’ Designation Prompts Portland Community College Board Chairman to Quit.”

Via WRAL.com: “Enrollment doubles in North Carolina charter schools.”

Via Education Week: “As two girls fought in the cafeteria area of a North Carolina high school, another student raised her cellphone to make a video, sparking a furor when she captured a police officer picking up and slamming a student to the floor.”

Go, School Sports Team!


Via Bloomberg: “College Football’s Top Teams Are Built on Crippling Debt.”

The University of Minnesota has fired its football coach Tracy Claeys. The Star Tribune reports that “Gophers football has been roiling since Dec. 13, when [athletic director Mark] Coyle suspended 10 players in connection with an alleged Sept. 2 sexual assault. The players responded with a two-day boycott, and Claeys publicly supported their stance, pitting him against the administration.”

Via Politico: “According to new research by the Centers for Disease Control, brain and spinal injuries killed about three high school or college football players a year between 2005 and 2014.”

From the HR Department


Via The New York Times: “Facebook Hires Campbell Brown to Lead News Partnerships Team.” Brown founded the education reform site The 74 and is close friends with Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Facebook’s contempt for public education continues.

Via Education Week: “Ruth Neild to Step Down as Head of Education Department’s Research Agency.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “NLRB Won’t Halt Adjunct Union Vote at Southern Cal.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


Pearson execs writing in Edsurge ask, “Can Edtech Support – and Even Save – Educational Research?”

(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


There’s a rush of crap out of the Consumer Electronic Show this week – it’s all about surveilling children under the guise of innovation and such.


Via Engadget: “Lego Boost teaches kids how to bring blocks to life with code.” It’s like Mindstorms except not.

Facebook is donating 500 virtual reality kits to Arkansas schools under a first-of-its-kind partnership between the social media giant and the state,” says the AP. But I’m sure there are zero privacy concerns.

Ev Williams says his Web publishing company Medium is “renewing its focus.” That means firing 50 staff, closing several offices, and looking for another business model. Third time’s the charm, Ev. Or something. Meanwhile, this is a good reminder that you should never write for free for a venture-backed startup.

Google is closing down the Hangouts API. Hope no educators were building anything important with it.

School districts in Colorado are acting as landlords, subsidizing housing for educators so they can afford to live there. Company housing has long been a great way to make sure your employees are compliant.

PLOS ONE, the largest scholarly journal in the world, continues to shrink,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Via Boing Boing: “Automated book-culling software drives librarians to create fake patrons to ‘check out’ endangered titles.” This is the future of algorithmic everything, you know.

Via The Atlantic: “How Design Thinking Became a Buzzword at School.”

It’s time for Forbes’ annual clickbait, 30 Under 30. Edsurge, hoping for its own share of clicks, covers those selected as education leaders. Congrats on those who did not click.

The Business of Ed-Tech


Show My Homework has raised $2.95 million in seed funding from LocalGlobe.

JOY has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors for Octopus, an “interactive scheduling watch” which you can strap on your child to remind them to do tasks. They get a badge. Sounds awesome.

“Student engagement platform” ClearScholar has raised $1.25 million in seed funding from High Alpha Capital, Elevate Ventures, Butler University, Cindy and Paul Skjodt, and Stephen Simon.

Study-abroad program GradTrain has raised $500,000 in seed funding from undisclosed investors.

Educational app maker Tinybop received an undisclosed amount of funding from Sandbox Partners.

BYU has received $527,112 from the Department of Homeland Security to build a Web authentication tool.

LivingTree has acquired ClassMessenger.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance


Via NBC 41 in Macon, Georgia: “Bibb schools installs new classroom cameras, microphones to help teachers.”

“Baby’s First Virtual Assistant” is how Bloomberg describes Mattel’s new Amazon Echo / baby monitor / surveillance tool. “Baby’s First Panopticon.” “It’s an AI to help raise your child,” says Fast Company, without a shred of horror at the possibility.

Via The Guardian: “ Children in England sign over digital rights ‘regularly and unknowingly’.” How much of this happens because they’re compelled to do so at school?

Meanwhile, via Pearson: “Personalized learning and student privacy.”

More on surveillance and cybersecurity in the “courts” section above and “research” section below.

Data and “Research”


Via Inside Higher Ed: “Older Americans are the fastest-growing group in the student loan market and nearly 40 percent of borrowers over 65 were in default in 2015, according to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report released Thursday.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “When Colleges Rely on Adjuncts, Where Does the Money Go?”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A study released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here) finds variation in the effectiveness of instructors at the University of Phoenix, using a required college algebra course to measure results.”

Internet of Things Spending to Reach $1.29 Trillion by 2020,” says Campus Technology. “The ‘internet of things’ is going to invade your home, whether you like it or not,” says Business Insider. It’s inevitable, insist tech marketers. Inevitable.

And yet…

Via Education Week: “Pre-K–12 Education Companies’ Status Falls on 2016 Inc. 5000 List.”

My year-end review of ed-tech funding: “How Much Venture Capital Did Ed-Tech Raise in 2016?” Spoiler alert: funding was down – way down – in 2016.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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