Education Politics

Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as the Secretary of Education – the first time that a Vice President has had to break a tie in the Senate for this sort of vote. Her confirmation comes despite Democrats’ opposition and an incredible volume of calls and letters from constituents and despite her being blasted as the most unqualified nominee for any Cabinet position ever. But DeVos “believes that technology has a role to play in the classroom,” Edsurge writes in response to the confirmation, which I guess means ed-tech can overlook all of her horrible beliefs that further educational inequalities as long as it means more people buy digital things and hire Edsurge to facilitate that process. See also, via Market Watch: “K12’s stock rallies after DeVos confirmed as Secretary of Education.”

There was lots of DeVos news and opinion in the lead-up to and aftermath of the Senate Vote:

“The Betsy DeVos Confirmation Debacle” by The New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead.

Via NPR: “Betsy DeVos’ Graduation Rate Mistake.”

Via Jezebel: “Someone Is Paying Strangers Online to Beg For Betsy DeVos’s Confirmation.”

Via The Washington Post: “Pro-DeVos ads air, saying ‘liberal’ critics are full of ‘rage and hate,’ as anti-DeVos protests are held.”

Holy Warriors Against the Welfare State” by Jennifer Berkshire.

Via The Hechinger Report: “Why Betsy DeVos’ vision of education does little to ensure equity.”

DeVos Was Inevitablesays IHE blogger John Warner. (So, no doubt, were several articles by and about Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein and his defense of Trump and DeVos. But I ain’t gonna link to that crap.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos has family and likely financial connections to The College Fix, a conservative news site that often criticizes liberal bias in higher education.”

Via The Hill: “The ethics case against Betsy DeVos.”

My guess is that the new administration will attempt to privatize student loans. (DeVos, of course, was a stakeholder in the student loan startup SoFi. Peter Thiel is also an investor. More on SoFi in the “upgrade/downgrade” sectioin below.) “Why We Shouldn’t Re-Privatize the Federal Student Loan Program” by Tamara Hiler.

Via WaPo: “Federal website for special education is down. But no, it hasn’t been scrubbed.” Yet.

House Resolution 899 – sponsored by Representative Tom Massie (R-KY) is just one sentence long: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” Additional signers include Justin Amash (R-MI) – one of Betsy DeVos’s fellow Michiganders. “Spoiler alert,” writes NPR’s Anya Kamenetz. “The Education Department is unlikely to be eliminated, particularly by a bill that declines to specify who or what would take over its $68 billion annual budget and the functions of data collection, oversight, civil rights enforcement and student aid, among others.”

Via The LA Times: “Not just ‘bad hombres’: Trump is targeting up to 8 million people for deportation.” This includes students.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The House this week approved a resolution to block new teacher-prep rules finalized by the Obama administration last year.”

Looks like the new FCC is terrible, no surprise:

Via The New York Times: “Trump’s F.C.C. Pick Quickly Targets Net Neutrality Rules.”

Via The Consumerist: “New Chairman Orders FCC To Abandon Court Defense Of Rule Limiting Prison Phone Rates.”

Via Education Week: “FCC Revokes Decision Allowing Companies to Provide Low-Income Families With Subsidized Broadband.” More via WaPo.

Also via Education Week: “Under New Leadership, FCC Quashes Report on E-rate Program’s Success.” The report was released on January 18, and it was retracted on February 3 as it “does not reflect the official views of the agency.” A copy of the report has been archived on Doug Levin’s website.

Via The LA Times: “In an age of ‘alternative facts,’ a massacre of schoolchildren is called a hoax.” Called a hoax by Alex Jones’ Infowars, to be clear, a radio show supported by Trump and his national security advisor Michael Flynn.

Education in the Courts

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to keep in place the temporary restraining order that bars the Trump administration from enforcing the executive order banning entry into the US for nations from seven Muslim-majority countries. The lawsuit was filed by the states of Washington and Minnesota, claiming legal standing to challenge the ban, in part, because of the impact the ban has on public universities. (A link to the full text of the court’s opinion.)

Related via Buzzfeed: “133 Tech Companies Say Trump’s Immigration Order Is Unconstitutional.” Just two ed-tech companies signed the amicus brief: General Assembly and AltSchool.

Via The 74: “ Friedrichs 2.0: New Lawsuit By 8 Teachers Challenges Mandatory Dues Paid to California Union.”

Via The Atlantic: “The 11-Year-Old Suing Trump Over Climate Change.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of California must pay the former chief counsel at its Riverside campus $2.5 million for allegedly retaliating against her for reporting what she called ‘rampant’ gender discrimination at the campus, a jury decided this week.”

More on federal court orders in the surveillance section below.

Testing, Testing…

Via Techcrunch: “ is drastically increasing the number of underrepresented minorities taking AP computer science.” Headline says “is.” Story says “could be.” Tech PR gonna PR.

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

MOOCs: A Postmortem” by Jonathan Rees.

Meanwhile, Campus Technology offers “7 Tips for Listing MOOCs on Your Résumé.”

Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun is working on a stealth startup to help people make dinner, according to Business Insider.

“Free College”

Via the San Francisco Examiner: “Deal reached to make City College tuition free for SF residents.”

Via The New York Times: “Bernie Sanders Talks Tuition, Free for All.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

“Ed-tech companies are seeing a new market of program management developing as colleges get into the coding boot camp business,” Inside Higher Ed’s Carl Straumsheim reports. See also: “George Mason U Signs with Outsourcer to Train Students in Coding” via Campus Technology.

Via The New York Times: “For-Profit Law School Faces Crisis After Losing Federal Loans.” (Is it just me or is Charlotte School of Law getting a lot of coverage?)

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via the Wisconsin State Journal: “University of Wisconsin student abandons pro-white group effort.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The College Republicans at Central Michigan University are apologizing after one of the gift bags they distributed for Valentine’s Day included a photograph of Adolf Hitler and the line ‘my love 4 u burns like 6,000 jews’ [sic].”

Via the AP: “Someone sent racist and anti-Semitic emails to University of Michigan students and made it look like they were from a computer science professor who pushed for presidential election recounts in several states.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “White Supremacist Fliers, Email on Campus.”

“Why Teaching Civics in America’s Classrooms Must Be a Trump-Era Priority” by Mother Jones’ Kristina Rizga.

Via Chalkbeat: “Teaching when students are full of fear: Inside Indiana’s first school for new immigrants.”

Thomas Aquinas College will open a campus in Massachusetts.

Saint Joseph’s of Indiana will close its doors.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Yale Panel Recommends Renaming Calhoun College.”

Via The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “America’s Biggest Donors Give Unusually Large Share of Gifts to Colleges.”

“Scaling Educational Accessby Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “One Campus’s iPad Revolution Results in Education Evolution.”

Via “How High Schools Are Demolishing the Classroom.” LOL.

Accreditation and Certification

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The American Bar Association House of Delegates on Monday rejected a proposal to require all law schools it accredits to have 75 percent of their students who sit for bar exams pass them within two years of graduation.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Big 12 Conference, of which Baylor University is a member, announced on Wednesday that it would withhold 25 percent of future revenue distributed to Baylor, pending an independent review of the university’s sexual misconduct processes. The decision comes after two recent court filings alleged that members of the university’s football staff covered up reports of sexual violence and other misconduct by athletes. Last year, Baylor fired its head football coach over the allegations, and both its president and athletic director resigned.”

Meanwhile, via the Waco Tribune: “Baylor strength coach arrested on prostitution charge.”

Meanwhile Ken Starr, demoted in the wake of all this awfulness at Baylor is rumored to be up for a job in the State Department.

From the HR Department

Via Inside Higher Ed: “…[A] teacher at Stoughton High School has been suspended after she revoked a letter of recommendation she wrote for a student and then explained the reason why. The student created a swastika out of tape and propped it up against a recycling bin.”

Sweet Briar College has named Meredith Woo as its new president.

Via The New York Times: “Stanford Drops Lawyer Who Advised Students in Sexual Assault Cases.”

Molly Graham is taking on a top ops role at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative,” Recode reports. Graham is a former FB employee.

Via The New York Times: “Josh Miller, Obama’s Digital Product Director, Joins Thrive Capital.” See also: “Joshua Kushner and Thrive Capital’s Ed-Tech Portfolio,” via where I keep track of all these political and financial networks because somebody has to.

Zenefits is laying off almost half its employees,” Buzzfeed reports. (I count Zenefits as “ed-tech” of sorts because, among its offerings: training and testing for health insurance workers – with a bonus: cheating on licensing exams.)

Grad student assistants at Loyola University at Chicago have voted to unionize.

The Business of Job Training

“The Next Big Blue-Collar Job Is Coding,” says Wired without a shred of sociological insight into race or gender and the labor force. But hey. What do you expect from Wired?

Via Edsurge: “Strengthening the Workforce Bridge Between Community Colleges and Employers.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Via The Atlantic: “Does Religion Have a Place in Public Schools?”

Via the Financial Times: “ Inside Silicon Valley’s classrooms of the future. Technology is transforming education, with personalised learning at the heart of the curriculum. Is this the future?” This kills me:

The personalised education movement combines a testing machine for the big-data age with a key idea taken from Maria Montessori, who developed her approach more than a century ago: that each child should drive their own learning.

“Does Open Pedagogy require OER?” asks Clint Lalonde.

(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

Via Buzzfeed’s Nitasha Tiku: “Even Good-Guy Student Loan Startups Still Favor the Rich.” Not sure I’d call SoFi, Earnest, et al “good guys,” but there you have it…

“Unfairly Squeezing Student Borrowersby The New York Times Editorial Board.

Facebook has decided to obey the law, announcing this week that “discriminatory advertising has no place on Facebook.”

“Why I’m Saying Farewell to EduShysterby Jennifer Berkshire.

Via Education Week: “Ed-Tech Skeptic Larry Cuban Finds New Perspective.”

Listen. I love librarians, but these sorts of stories (and practices) about “digital literacy” have shown to be unhelpful.

Digital literacy and anti-authoritarian politics” by Bryan Alexander.

It’s 2017 and we’re still getting these sorts of headlines about Salman Khan: “These 3 Ideas Will Completely Change How Education Works.”

“‘Oakland School Finder’ Platform Stirs Public District vs. Charter Debates,” says Edsurge.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Pearson, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on learning management systems, is leaving the market as the company seeks to restructure itself and boost its profits.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

Via The Guardian: “Actors, teachers, therapists – think your job is safe from artificial intelligence? Think again.” (These silly stories always reveal what people think teacher

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How Robots Will Save Liberal Education.”

Via Education Dive: “Will 2017 see artificial intelligence find a larger role in education?” (This story works equally well in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section, no doubt.)

Via Campus Technology: “MIT, Segway Robotics Hackathon Focuses on Eldercare.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

Cinemood has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from IIFD for a mini-projector with “kid friendly content built in.”

The Holberton School has raised $2.3 million in seed funding from daphni, Reach Capital, and Jerry Murdock. The school, which has no teachers and teaches computer programming, has raised $4.3 million. (Disclosure alert.)

“Smart toy” maker Tenka Labs has raised $2.1 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors.

CodeMonkey has raised $1.5 million from J21 Corporation, Invictus Capital, the China-Israel Education VC Fund, and Edulab. The learn-to-code company with the derogatory name has previously raised $730,000.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via Data & Society: “Assessing the Legacy of inBloom.” (I really am working on a response, I promise. Once I get over this flu…)

Via Fusion: “‘New York Times’ under fire for publishing dorm room numbers of undocumented students.” JFC.

Via The LA Times: “After Trump video flap, signs warn Orange Coast College students against recording classes without permission.”

Via the Backchannel: “A Mike Flynn-Approved Hate Group Is Teaching Cops to Track Muslims.” Lovely combo of hate-group, tech, and educational institutions here.

Via the FTC’s website: “VIZIO, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers and sellers of internet-connected ‘smart’ televisions, has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General that it installed software on its TVs to collect viewing data on 11 million consumer TVs without consumers' knowledge or consent.”

Via Edsurge: “Phishing Season: Widespread Email Scam Targets Schools, Edtech Companies.” Among the targets: Amplify.

“School libraries can serve as personalized learning hotspots,” says Education Dive – but only if libraries fail to protect student privacy and gather lots of clicks about what students are doing, which seems fundamentally anti-librarian to me.

Via “Data from 2014 hack of children’s online game Bin Weevils leaked online; hacker claims 20m records.”

Data and “Research”

“We need a little patience” says USC professor Morgan Polikoff, when it comes to evaluating Common Core.

Via Campus Technology: “The global digital English language learning (ELL) market is expected to grow 23.36 percent between 2017 and 2021, according to a new report by market research firm Technavio.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds students’ negative diversity experiences, though less common than positive ones, hinder cognitive development and student learning.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study suggests that men are overrepresented in elite Ph.D. programs, especially in those fields heavy on math skills, making for segregation by discipline and prestige.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “State Spending on Higher Ed Continues Upward Trend.”

The Pew Research Center has talked to “experts” about algorithms.

Via Bloomberg: “The Big Reason Whites Are Richer Than Blacks in America.” Inheritance. (It’s not education, folks. It’s simply not.)

Via Chalkbeat: “Skipping meals to afford books: College students’ financial woes go beyond tuition payments, survey shows.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “New study indicates business incubators can have adverse impacts on research and innovation.” How do you measure “innovation”? Patents, apparently.

“If teachers think like managers, they could make happier classrooms,” says Education Dive. Because everyone loves managers.

A report from the AASCU: “Preparing Teachers in Today’s Challenging Context.”

DC charter schools discipline students at twice the national rate, according to a GAO report.

Paying college tuition with a credit card is a bad idea. We know this. And yet some 85% of colleges accept credit cards.

“All Money Ain’t Good Money: The Role of White Foundations in Social Justice Movementsby Andre Perry.


Educator Hans Rosling, well known for his 2006 TED talk on statistics, passed away this week.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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