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Education Politics


“How higher education made President Trump,” according to Jeffrey Selingo.

Via Fusion: “ICE detained close to 700 immigrants in a five-day nationwide raid.”

Via Education Week: “Undocumented Teachers Shielded by DACA in Legal and Emotional Limbo.”

Via Reuters: “Mexican ‘DREAMer’ nabbed in immigrant crackdown.”

Via Buzzfeed: “A DREAMer Was Arrested During A Raid And Now Immigration Officials Have Been Ordered To Explain Why.”

More on DACA in the campus section below.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Texas legislation could force campus police departments to hold on to those they arrest until federal immigration authorities can consider their legal status.”

Also from Texas, via WaPo: “ Texas officials: Schools should teach that slavery was ‘side issue’ to Civil War.”


“What Betsy DeVos means for edtech,” according to venture capitalist Ryan Craig. Union busting, outsourcing, and “unbundling,” apparently. Edsurge also “forecasts the future” of ed-tech and is hopeful. Screw equality, I guess – or “Ka-ching,” as Edsurge likes to say.

Via The New York Times: “Trump Drops Defense of Obama Guidelines on Transgender Students.” More via WaPo and Buzzfeed.

Via The Washington Post: “Influential conservative group: Trump, DeVos should dismantle Education Department and bring God into classrooms.” The group in question: the Council for National Policy. It doesn’t make its members’ names public, but Kellyanne Conway did once service on its executive committee, DeVos’s mother was on its board of governors, and DeVos’s father-in-law served twice as its president.

Also via The Washington Post: “Here’s who Trump invited to the White House to talk about schools. The list says a lot about his education priorities.” (As in, no Black parents or educators in view.)

“How Much Power Does Betsy DeVos Really Hold to Shake Up Higher Ed?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Meanwhile… via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos’s Brother Is Setting Up A Private Army For China, Sources Say.”

Via The Washington Post: “DeVos: Protesters show hostility to change, new ideas in education.” And later in the week, also via The Washington Post: “DeVos softens stance on protesters at higher ed event.” Here’s the press release from the Department of Education after a handful of protestors yelled at DeVos at her first visit to a public school ever.

Apparently now DeVos is getting “beefed-up security” from the US Marshals Service – the only cabinet member who has this protection and the first time something like this has ever been done for a Secretary of Education. This is theatre. Frightening, frightening theatre.

DeVos has also vowed to go after employees who would “subvert” her mission.

Via The Oregonian: “GOP senator introduces bill requiring colleges to expel students convicted of rioting.” That’s Oregon State Senator Kim Thatcher.

Via NPR: “Beyond DeVos, What 5 Key Trump Appointees Could Mean For Schools.” (Not on the list but certainly important to watch, particularly for ed-tech, the head of the FCC.)

Via WaPo: “The FCC talks the talk on the digital divide – and then walks in the other direction.”

Via Univision: “How White House advisor Stephen Miller went from pestering Hispanic students to designing Trump’s immigration policy.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Vocal Critic of Office for Civil Rights Is Likely to Lead It.” That’s Gail Heriot.

Via ProPublica: “Child’s Play: Team Trump Rewrites a Department of Energy Website for Kids.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U.S. Closure of Animal-Use Database Alarms Both Scientists and Protesters.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Wis. Governor Pushes to Eliminate For-Profit Oversight Board.”

Via The Casper Star Tribune: “School official says $91M cut could result in ‘bloodbath’.” The Wyoming boom-bust cycle continues.

Education in the Courts


Via The Seattle Times: “A cellphone belonging to the man who claims he shot and wounded another man in self-defense during a demonstration last month at the University of Washington had been wiped clean of data before being seized by police, according to search-warrant documents filed in King County Superior Court.” The demonstration was against Milo Yiannopoulos; the shooter a supporter of the white nationalist joker; and the victim of the shooting was antifa.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The owner of a chain of four Los Angeles-area colleges accused of running a ‘pay-to-stay’ scheme through which foreign nationals fraudulently obtained immigration documents allowing them to stay in the U.S. on student visas though they were not bona fide students pleaded guilty Thursday to federal immigration fraud charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced in a press release.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “17 Universities Join N.Y. Legal Challenge to Trump Immigration Ban.”

Via MarketWatch: “These lawyers may have discovered a way to wipe away student debt in bankruptcy.”

More on legal actions regarding for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below.

Testing, Testing…


Via Education Week: “After seven years of tumult and transition fueled by the common core, state testing is settling down, with most states rejecting the federally funded PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments, and nearly one-quarter embracing the SAT or the ACT as their official high school test.”

Via The Wall Street Journal: “As Advanced Placement Tests Gain Popularity, Some Colleges Push Back.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


“Should Online Courses Go Through ‘Beta Testing’?” asks Edsurge. “How One Provider Taps 2,500 Volunteers.” The provider in question is Coursera, which has raised some $146.1 million and relies on volunteer labor. (Disclosure alert.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “FutureLearn, the massive open online course provider owned by the Open University in the U.K., expands to the U.S.”

“What’s the bottom line on online preschool?” asks The Hechinger Report.

NPR on MOOC Micromasters.

Florida Virtual School model shows online learning can be engaging,” according to a puff piece by Education Dive, which rewrites a puff piece by eSchool News.

“Free College”


Via Inside Higher Ed: “Oregon’s free community college scholarship, which began last year, is encouraging more students to consider going to college and to feel more confident about being able to afford it, according the results of a survey conducted by Education Northwest, a nonprofit research group.”

Also via Inside Higher Ed: “Oregon’s free community college scholarship faces money woes and criticism, particularly from the state’s four-year university leaders, who cite the program’s higher-income beneficiaries while also worrying about enrollment declines at their institutions.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


Tressie McMillan Cottom’s new book, Lower Ed, is now out, and you should buy it and read it.

The Century Foundation on the history of for-profit higher ed: “Vietnam Vets and a New Student Loan Program Bring New College Scams.”

Via Bloomberg: “Cosmetology Schools Sue Betsy DeVos Over Obama-Era Rules.” Those rules, of course, involve “gainful employment.”

“How the G.O.P. Became For-Profit College Abuse Deniers” by New America. The venture capitalists at University Ventures respond, as does Stephen Downes.

Via the Phoenix Business Journal: “University of Phoenix laying off full-time faculty; 170 could be impacted.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bob Jones University lost its nonprofit tax exemption after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in 1976 found that the conservative religious college was practicing racial discrimination with its ban on interracial dating. That decision sparked a long court battle, which ended when the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982 upheld the IRS’s decision.” Now, the school is poised to become a non-profit once again.

“Will Data Error Threaten For-Profit Regulation?” asks Inside Higher Ed. Again, that’s gainful employment.

More on the latest shenanigans from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker regarding for-profit higher ed in the politics section above.

Meanwhile on Campus…


Via Vox: “‘Crying is an everyday thing’: life after Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ at a majority-immigrant school.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Undocumented Students’ Fears Escalate After a DACA Recipient’s Arrest.”

Via NPR: “School District In Canada Cancels Trips To U.S., Citing Border Policies, Safety.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Yale Will Rename Calhoun College for Adm. Grace Hopper.”

Via NPR: “Despite Protests And A Fire Alarm, Martin Shkreli’s Show Goes On At Harvard.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Central Michigan University has determined that an individual who is not a student was responsible for a Hitler-referencing Valentine’s Day card that was in a gift bag distributed by the university’s College Republicans last week, and that the Republicans were unaware the card was placed there.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “‘The Great Shame of Our Profession.’ How the humanities survive on exploitation.”

“Dissent at Berkeleyby Michael Meranze.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “As the White House and congressional Republicans plan overtures to black colleges, activists on one campus rally to bar the president from campus.” That’s Howard University. More on Trump and HBCUs in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why Is a University’s Top Lawyer Seeking an Outspoken Professor’s Emails?” The University of Oregon is seeking the emails of professor William Harbaugh, who operates the blog UOMatters, and his correspondence with the media.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Minnesota philosophy professor writes that immigrants have low IQs and refugees are part of ‘religious-political cult.’ Reaction is intense.”

Via The New York Times: “College Costs Too Much? N.Y.U. Paves Way to Graduate Faster.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “After 10 years of state oversight, a locally elected board will now govern Compton Community College District, in California.”

Via Geekwire: “Google quietly donates $10M to University of Washington in another major computer science gift.”

Accreditation and Certification


A story to watch under the Trump administration: accreditation. Here’s an op-ed in The Hill: “College accreditation goes rogue: Another unaccountable system.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Education has recommended a renewal of recognition for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, a controversial regional accreditor of two-year colleges in California and other Western states. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, a federal panel, is slated to review ACCJC’s recognition and scope at a meeting next week.”

Go, School Sports Team!


Via WaPo: “Trump will not fill out an NCAA tournament bracket.” IMPEACH.

Via NJ.com: “Coed CYO hoops team defies archdiocese order to kick girls out, forfeits season.”

From the HR Department


Via the Naples Daily News: “East Naples teacher reassigned after Facebook post about immigrants.”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has a new CEO: John “Jack” Lynch, formerly the head of Renaissance Learning.

Bridget Foster has been named the head of the SIIA’s ed-tech association, the Education Technology Industry Network.

More on layoffs at the University of Phoenix in the for-profit higher ed section above.

Contests and Awards


Edsurge reports that NewSchools Venture Fund is running another competition – this one to fund entrepreneurs who build PreK–12 special education apps. Edsurge fails to disclose that NSVF is one of its investors.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


“Are Teachers Becoming Obsolete?” asks a “teacherpreneur” writing for The Atlantic.

“Can Virtual Reality ‘teach’ empathy?” asks The Hechinger Report.

“Can Blended Learning Improve Equity in One of Nation’s Most Diverse Districts?” asks Edsurge.

“Can Micro-credentials Create More Meaningful Professional Development For Teachers?” asks MindShift.

(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


Here’s a trend to watch in 2017: companies and organizations who “help” schools buy ed-tech:

Edsurge writes Fast Company’s list of the “most innovative education companies.”

Via The New York Times: “Intel Drops Its Sponsorship of Science Fairs, Prompting an Identity Crisis.”

Via The Verge: “Yik Yak is secretly pivoting to group messaging.” I’ll use this as an excuse to remind you all that the founders of this terrible company are named Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll.

“College Leaders Show Growing Interest In Teaching Information Literacy,” according to Edsurge.

Via Mike Caulfield: “Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers Is Out.”

Via Buzzfeed: “ How America’s Student Loan Giant Dropped The Ball.” That giant is Navient.

Via the AP: “How Google Chromebooks conquered schools.”

“Students can take charge of learning by controlling the seating plan,” according to Education Dive (rewriting an Edutopia article).

Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Vert Capital and Scriba Corp: Institutions losing course data in company’s death throes.”

Also by Phil Hill: “Ellucian Stops Support for Brainstorm, its CBE platform.” (Do be sure to check out the Horizon Report which predicts “next generation LMSes,” like Brainstorm, are “on the horizon.” More below in the “research” section.)

Via Edutechnica: “One Course to Rule Them All: A Return to the Course Management System.”

Via Fast Company: “Want to Fight Inequality? Forget Design Thinking.”

Via Techcrunch: “Pixar offers free online lessons in storytelling via Khan Academy.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


“In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant,” says George Monbiot.

Via Getting Smart: “#AskAboutAI: Informing Educators, Parents and Policymakers About Life With Smart Machines.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


Top Hat has raised $22.5 million in Series C funding from Union Square Ventures, Emergence Capital Partners, Georgian Partners, Golden Venture Partners, iNovia Capital , SoftTech VC , and Version One Ventures. The company, which lets students use their phones to respond to prompts in class, has raised $41.9 million.

Brightwheel has raised $10 million in Series A funding from GGV Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, ICONIQ, Eniac Ventures, Golden Venture Partners, Lowercase Capital, Mark Cuban Companies, and RRE Ventures. The startup, which records activity at daycare to send to parents, has raised $10.6 million total.

SmartUp.io has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding from Notion Capital and Hong Leong Group for “a peer-to-peer learning management system to encourage users to create communities filled with micro-learning activities,” whatever the hell that means.

Learn-to-code company Ozobot has raised $3 million in Series A funding from Mark Rampolla and Tribeca Venture Partners.

MiDrive has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from Chrystal Capital, Force Over Mass, Holiday Extras, Initial Capital, Kelvin Capital, and Wild Blue Cohort. The startup, which offers a driving test app and a marketplace for driving instructors, also lost its CEO, Scott Taylor. But hey, it’s raised $7.29 million total.

TinyTap has raised $1.5 million from Animoca, Inimiti VC, and New York Angels. The company, which offers a “marketplace of teacher-created apps,” has raised $2.05 million total.

CampusLogic has acquired Cegment.

WayUp has acquired LookSharp.

VitalSource has acquired Verba.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


Via Doug Levin: “IRS Official to Schools: ‘One of the Most Dangerous Email Phishing Scams We’ve Seen’.” Just one example of this, via MPR News: “Data breach of W–2 forms hits thousands of Bloomington school employees.”

Via the BBC: “Facebook algorithms ‘will identify terrorists’.”

Considering IBM’s history, this letter from CEO Ginni Rometty about working with Trump is amazing (and chilling).

Via the EFF: “A School Librarian Caught In The Middle of Student Privacy Extremes.”

Via ZDNet: “How IoT hackers turned a university’s network against itself.” More via Bruce Schneier.

Via the BBC: “German parents told to destroy Cayla dolls over hacking fears.”

Via Techcrunch: “This baby monitor uses radar to detect infant breathing patterns.” Raybaby also “builds a photo/video collage of the baby for posterity.” Yuck.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Student Is Suspended for Filming Instructor Who Made Anti-Trump Remarks.”

Data and “Research”


The NMC and ELI have released the latest Horizon Report for higher ed. My response to the report.

“Rationalizing Those ‘Irrational’ Fears of inBloomis my response to the recent Data & Society report on the failed data infrastructure initiative.

Via Chalkbeat: “That stunning statistic about a third of Tennessee graduates not meeting requirements? It’s not true.”

Via Education Week: “Online Charter Students in Ohio Perform Far Worse Than Peers, Study Finds.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “GoFundMe Releases Data on College Crowdfunding.”

Via The Orlando Sentinel: “Teacher merit-pay law hasn’t boosted student learning, Orange says.” That’s the Orange County school district which says it hasn’t seen any significant improvement in student performance since Florida passed a merit-pay law in 2011.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “2017 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers.”

Via Education Dive: “Texas district sees learning gains after giving kindergartners Chromebooks.”

“Attending a Prestigious College Pays Off,” says The Pacific Standard. Especially if you’re a man.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Despite higher education’s progressive reputation, new research shows a stubborn pay gap between women and men who are administrators.”

Via Politico: “Researchers from the University of Virginia have found that former first lady Michelle Obama’s visit to high schools as part of her Reach Higher initiative led to a ‘substantial’ increase in the percent of students at those schools who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.”

Via The Atlantic: “The School-Voucher Paradox,” an article about a study on vouchers and school segregation.

School vouchers “diminish churches’ religious activities,” according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education” by Yong Zhao.

Pearson’s Jay Lynch and Nathan Martin argue in Edsurge “Why ‘What Works’ Doesn’t: False Positives in Education Research.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study challenges the myth that digital instruction costs less – both for students and for the colleges producing the courses.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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