Education Politics

Coming at you from the “fashion” section of The New York Times, a profile on Peter Thiel: “Peter Thiel, Trump’s Tech Pal, Explains Himself.” Highlights include his thoughts on Star Wars, corruption, and sex. OK, maybe “highlights” is the wrong word.

Silicon Valley Takes a Right Turn,” according to an op-ed in The New York Times. But frankly, it’s always leaned to the right.

Via WaPo’s Valerie Strauss: “Yes, Bill Gates really compared Donald Trump to JFK – and said Trump could help education.”

Via The New York Daily News: “A conservative Arizona lawmaker, Rep. Bob Thorpe, is proposing a far-reaching law in Arizona, House Bill 2120, banning virtually every college event, activity or course which discusses social justice, skin privilege, or racial equality. Violating the law would allow the state of Arizona to levy multimillion-dollar fines and penalties against universities – removing at least 10% of their state aid.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Lawmakers in two states this week introduced legislation that would eliminate tenure for public college and university professors. A bill in Missouri would end tenure for all new faculty hires starting in 2018 and require more student access to information about the job market for majors. Legislation in Iowa would end tenure even for those who already have it.” (“If colleges keep killing academic freedom, civilization will die, too,” says Judge José A. Cabranes in a WaPo op-ed. So that’s fun.)

Via Newsweek: “Texas Among States With Anti-Transgender ‘Bathroom Bills’ on the Horizon.”

Via “Mayor Walsh launches tuition-free community college for BPS graduates.” (BPS equals Boston Public Schools.)

“Edushyster” Jennifer Berkshire has another profile of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.

Via The New York Times: “Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Pick, Plays Hardball With Her Wealth.”

DeVos’s confirmation hearing was delayed, in part because of an incomplete ethics review.

Via The New York Times: “Trump’s Pick for Education Could Face Unusually Stiff Resistance.”

Elsewhere in Trumplandia: “Columbia University has declined to comment on recent reports that Monica Crowley, an appointee of President-elect Donald J. Trump, plagiarized portions of her 2000 Ph.D. dissertation at the university,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via Buzzfeed: “Trump Moves To Challenge Vaccine Science.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education on news from the Department of Labor: “New Federal Guidance Is Hailed as Helping Adjuncts Collect Unemployment.”

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a national group supporting public and private HBCUs, announced a $25.6 million gift from the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries, a well-known opponent of government spending on things like public education (among other things). More via Inside Higher Ed.

The Department of Education has released a “Higher Education Supplement to the National Education Technology Plan,” just in the nick of time I guess. More on the report via Edsurge.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education has released data showing there were 539 institutions placed on heightened cash monitoring as of Dec. 1, meaning they are subject to greater financial oversight than other institutions participating in federal aid programs.”

Via The Guardian: “Peers have defeated controversial government reforms of higher education that would have made it easier for new profit-making colleges to award degrees and become universities.” (Peers are members of the House of Lords for those not up-to-date on UK government titles.) EDITED TO ADD: Apparently, The Guardian article is not quite right. "Defeated" is too strong a word here. Rather, an amendment has been added to define "university," something that is a blow to this particular piece of legislation.

More about the politics of education data – particularly regarding undocumented students – in the data and surveillance section below. More news on the Department of Education, student loans, and for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below.

Education in the Courts

Via NPR: “Supreme Court Considers How Schools Support Students With Disabilities.” More via The New York Times. Disability rights journalist David Perry also weighs in.

Via The Washington Post: “Teachers sue student loan servicer for converting their grants to loans.”

Via The Huffington Post: “Native American Students Sue The U.S. Government Over Dismal Education.”

Via McClatchy DC: “Forced to watch child porn for their job, Microsoft employees developed PTSD, they say.” They’re suing the company.

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

edX is offering an online master’s degree with Georgia Tech: an OMS (online master’s in science) in Analytics.

edX has partnered with the World Bank Group.

The Economist onThe Return of the MOOC.” As The Dead Kennedys would say,

MOOC’s not dead It just deserves to die When it becomes another stale cartoon A close-minded, self-centered social club Ideas don’t matter It’s who you know If the MOOC’s gotten boring It’s because of the people who want everyone to sound the same Who drive the bright people out of our so-called scene Till all that’s left is a meaningless fad

Via Zion Market Research: “Massive Open Online Course Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecasts 2016-2024.” Price tag for the report: $3599.

“ The growth of online learning: How universities must adjust to the new norm” is sponsored content on Education Dive.

Via Salon: “Noam Chomsky: You can’t educate yourself by looking things up online.”

Harvard/MIT Report Analyzes 4 Years of MOOC Data,” Campus Technology reports. More via Inside Higher Ed.

Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “The Intended Consequences of California’s Online Education Initiative.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Buzzfeed: “Hundreds Of College Programs Could Be Shut Down For Breaking Student Debt Rules.” “Over 800 Programs Fail Education Dept.’s Gainful-Employment Rule,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. More via Bloomberg. Here’s the gainful employment data from the Department of Education itself. A reaction from Robert Kelchen. Kevin Carey also has thoughts about Harvard's appearance on the "predatory program" list.

From the press release: “The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced today plans to grant borrower defense relief for federal student loan borrowers who attended the now-defunct American Career Institute (ACI) in Massachusetts.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

Race, student debt, and for-profit graduate schools” – a report from The Brookings Institution.

Also via The Brookings Institution: “How much do for-profit colleges rely on federal funds?”

Via the ABA Journal: “Charlotte School of Law students reportedly will receive spring loan money.”

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

Meanwhile on Campus…

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on more university mergers in Georgia: “Armstrong State University, in Savannah, and Georgia Southern University, in Statesboro, will merge under the Georgia Southern name, bringing the total number of students at the university to around 27,000. And Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, in Tifton, will be merged with Bainbridge State College. Both campuses will use the Abraham Baldwin name and have a total of about 6,000 students.”

Via The Mercury News: “In Apple’s backyard, iPads ignite furor in schools.” Parents in the affluent school district are pushing back on the mandate that middle schoolers use iPads.

Via Edsurge: “Mountain View District Cuts Digital Program in Half After Parent Backlash.” The program: Teach to One.

(Fascinating how affluent parents in the shadow of Google and Apple HQs respond to ed-tech, no?)

“The University of California, San Francisco, has announced a $500 million grant from the Helen Diller Foundation, one of the largest gifts ever to American higher education,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via NPR: “Activists Fear Reversal Of Strict Rules On Campus Sexual Assault.”

Via Infodocket: “University of Delaware Library Joins Open Textbook Network.”

Accreditation and Certification

Via Inside Higher Ed: “ACICS-Accredited Colleges Meet Federal Deadline.” That is, they met the deadline to maintain their financial aid eligibility for the next 18 months while they look for a new accreditor.

“The ‘poor man’s MBA’ can boost salaries by 20%,” says CNN in a puff piece about LinkedIn,, and project management certificates.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The New York Times: “Clemson Upsets Alabama to Win the College Football Championship.” Coach Dabo Swinney thanked God for taking such good care of the Tigers – which probably explains why the rest of the world has gone to shit this football season.

Via The Denver Post: “ New pro football league aims to be a college alternative for players.”

Via the AP: “Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal has cost Penn State nearly a quarter-billion dollars.”

Via The Undefeated: “Spending gap for football players vs. nonathletes by bowl-eligible schools is enormous.”

Via The Washington Post: “College athletic directors bring gala business to Trump International Hotel.”

From the HR Department

Via The LA Times: “How the University of California exploited a visa loophole to move tech jobs to India.”

Via CNBC: “Uber’s David Plouffe to join Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.” Before joining Uber, Plouffe was President Obama’s campaign manager. Let’s keep an eye on Zuck’s political aspirations.

Upgrades and Downgrades is shutting down. The social media platform had raised $2.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz and others.

Via Techcrunch: “Nickelodeon gets into e-books with new reading app for kids, Nick Jr. Books.”

Google’s Toontastic storytelling app for kids goes 3D,” says Techcrunch. (Well, you’re still moving your cartoons around in a two-dimensional space, but it’s a great headline.)

Google boasts that “New Google Classroom features make it easier to learn, teach, manage and build” – that is, by adding notifications and metrics. Good god, the bar is low, isn’t it. More on the Classroom API via the G Suite Developers Blog. (LOL. “G Suite.”)

Via the ALA press release: “Equipping librarians to code: ALA, Google launch ready to code university pilot program.” “This work will culminate in graduate level course models that equip MLIS students to deliver coding programs through public and school libraries and foster computational thinking skills among the nation’s youth.”

Nothing says “progressive education” like shilling for Unilever.

Education Week has a Q&A with Stanford professor Larry Cuban on personalized learning and progressive education.

Robots and Other (Ed-Tech) Science Fiction

I’m adding this subsection to the Hack Education Weekly News this year, as I am fascinated by the narratives surrounding artificial intelligence and robots – if not the “fake news” of the (ed-) tech sector, certainly some of the most hyped and unsubstantiated crap you’ll read…

Via Edsurge: “What Makes a Smart Course ‘Smart’?” I believe the answer is “adding the adjective ‘smart’ to your press release or headline.”

Via Geekwire: “New $27 million fund backs research into artificial intelligence for the public interest.” The money comes from LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, the Omidyar Network, the Knight Foundation, and others.

Via Edsurge: “​Are False Connections with AI Robots Putting Your Student’s Emotional Health at Risk?”

Via The New York Times: “Robots Will Take Jobs, but Not as Fast as Some Fear, New Report Says.”

Via Campus Technology: “Carnegie Mellon AI Ups the Ante in 20-Day Poker Fest.”

A.I. Is the New T.A. in the Classroom” – by Rose Luckin and Wayne Holmes and sponsored by Pearson, of course.

“Ten Questions about AIfrom Roger Schank, who remains the best person to follow on puncturing the AI hype both in and out of the classroom.

A chatbot startup received funding – more details in the business of ed-tech section below.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

Sallie Mae’s stock has soared since the election,” notes Rohit Chopra. For-profit higher and student loan companies. The future of ed-tech. has raised $5.27 million in funding from HENQ Invest and Real Web. The student housing startup has raised $6.27 million total.

Unacademy has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding from Blume Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, Ananth Narayanan, Binny Bansal, Girish Mathrubootham, Kunal Shah, Sachin Bansal, Sandeep Tandon, Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs, Tashish Tulsian, Tracxn Labs, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, and Waterbridge Ventures. The online education platform has raised $6 million total.

AdmitHub has raised $2.95 million in seed funding from Reach Capital, Relay Ventures, Bisk Ventures , Charlie Cheever, Chris Gabrieli, FundersClub, Kevin Morgan, The Yard Ventures, and University Ventures. According to Edsurge, AdmitHub is “creating conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to guide students to and through college.” It’s raised $3.68 million total.

ClassWallet has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Brentwood Associates.

“Blended learning” company Learntron has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Kae Capital.

Via Techcrunch: “Salesforce’s Marc Benioff joins Valley notables backing Gaza’s first ever coding academy.” The funding is part of a crowdfunding campaign, also backed by Paul Graham, Brad Feld, Dave McClure, Fadi Ghandour, Samih Toukan, the Skoll Foundation, and Freada Kapor Klein.

Via Edsurge: “Curriculum Associates to Be Owned by Iowa State University – For Now.”

Via Edsurge: “Rethink Education Re-Ups Commitment to Edtech With $107.5 Million Fund.”

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via NPR: “The Higher Ed Learning Revolution: Tracking Each Student’s Every Move.”

The LA Times reports that Los Angeles Valley College has paid $28,000 in Bitcoin to ransomware hackers.

Via Quartz: “A lawyer rewrote Instagram’s privacy policy so kids and parents can have a meaningful talk about privacy.”

Via The Register: “TV anchor says live on-air ‘Alexa, order me a dollhouse’ – guess what happens next.”

Via The New York Times: “N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications.”

Via Education Week: “Trump’s Anti-Immigration Rhetoric Fuels Data Concerns.”

Data and “Research”

“American higher ed enrollment declines, again,” says Bryan Alexander, drawing on data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Some of this come from the “collapse” – we wish, right? – of for-profit higher ed.

Also via Bryan Alexander: “How academia adjunctified faculty and mainstreamed the queen sacrifice.”

Still more from Bryan Alexander: “The next 15 years of high school graduates.”

Via Medical Xpress: “Parents’ presence when TV viewing with child affects learning ability.”

It’s always worth noting the scholars that Rick Hess does not see when he calculates his “RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings.” Not Tressie McMillan Cottom, for example.

Inside Higher Ed covers a new study, published in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Ed comparing RateMyProfessors and institutional evaluations: :Study of millions of online ratings of professors suggests scores vary with an instructor’s gender, discipline and perceived ‘easiness.’"

Via The New York Times: “For Young Entrepreneurs, College Debts Can Snuff Out Start-Up Hopes.” (Let’s add that ditching the ACA will also damage these hopes.)

Via “Directory of Vendors of Online Learning Products and Services.” (I’d be curious in how this 2500 entry database compares with Edsurge’s.)

Via EdTech Magazine: “How Learning Analytics Can Help Inform K–12 Decisions.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “School of Me: Letting students study what they want, when they want is the latest education trend.” Not entirely what they want, of course. Let’s be clear.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students at for-profit institutions achieve learning results that are similar to those of students who attend comparable nonprofit colleges, according to a new study by the Council for Aid to Education. The study was funded by the for-profits that participated in the research.” (And the methodology is pretty LOL.)

Via The New York Times: “Sticker Shock, and Maybe Nausea, Hamper Sales of Virtual Reality Gear.” But I’m sure ed-tech evangelists still believe VR is the future of education.

Via Mark Guzdial: “Computer Science added to US Dept of Ed Civil Rights Data Collection.” (As long as the Department of Education still collects this data, of course.)

“​How Should We Measure the Impact of Makerspaces?” is a depressing, but probably inevitable question posed by Edsurge.

US News & World Report ranks things.

More research on MOOCs in the MOOC section above. More research on for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section above.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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