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Education Politics


Via The Washington Post: “Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice.”

NPR’s Cory Turner on “The Promise And Peril Of School Vouchers.” Also by Turner: “Indiana’s School Choice Program Often Underserves Special Needs Students.”

Also via WaPo: “Here are K–12 education programs Trump wants to eliminate in 2018 budget.” This includes $10.1 million for Special Olympics because these are some cruel, cruel people.

Via Politico: “DeVos expected to unveil school choice plans Monday.”

“This is the new Betsy DeVos speech everyone should read,” according to WaPo’s Valerie Strauss at least. Bonus points for invoking the Prussians, Madame Secretary.

“Why I Turned My Back on Betsy DeVos During Graduation” by Bethune-Cookman Class of 2017’s Tyler Durrant.

Via The Washington Post: “Betsy DeVos was asked to address education reporters at their annual convention. She said no.”

Via Politico: “DeVos’ designated ethics official found no conflict with her addressing the American Federation for Children in her official capacity, a spokesman said Monday. DeVos is the former chair of the American Federation for Children, which advocates for school choice policies, such as tax credit scholarships and vouchers. She and her husband also donated $200,000 to AFC’s charitable arm in 2014 and 2015 through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. DeVos stepped down as AFC chair last year after President Donald Trump nominated her for secretary.”

President Trump gave the commencement speech at Liberty University. Details via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The Washington Post: “Trump and DeVos plan to reshape higher education finance. Here’s what it might mean for you.”

I’ve put all the student loan updates in its own section below.

“The Privatization Prophets” by Jennifer Berkshire.

Los Angeles Just Had the Most Expensive School Board Race Ever – and Betsy DeVos Couldn’t Be Happier,” says Mother Jones. Charter school-backed Nick Melvoin unseated school board president Steve Zimmer. More than $14 million was spent on this race.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A bipartisan group of influential U.S. senators released a bill Monday that would overturn the ban on a federal student-level data system that would allow for the tracking of employment and graduation rates. A bipartisan companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives followed Tuesday.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The Hill: “FCC votes to advance net neutrality repeal.” More via Education Week. (Here are the education technology companies that have raised money from ISPs. Watch to see what they have to say (if anything) about net neutrality and the future of education.)

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The States Where Campus Free-Speech Bills Are Being Born: A Rundown.” A related story via Inside Higher Ed: “Critics of proposed legislation to ensure First Amendment rights at Wisconsin public universities say it could backfire and limit expression. Requirement for political neutrality alarms professors and administrators alike.”

Via The Washington Post: “Secret report shows ‘special’ treatment for public officials in D.C. school lottery.”

Via The News & Observer: “At 3 a.m., NC Senate GOP strips education funding from Democrats’ districts.”

The New York Times looks at “anti-tax fervor in southern Oregon, which will result in the one public library in Roseburg closing its doors.

ProPublica looks at the lobbying group the Home School Legal Defense Association: “Small Group Goes to Great Lengths to Block Homeschooling Regulation.”

Immigration and Education


Via The Gothamist: “Federal Immigration Agent Allegedly Inquired About 4th Grader At Queens Public School.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students at Northwestern University drove out a representative from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who was due to speak to a sociology class Tuesday.”

Education in the Courts


Via The New York Times: “4 Plead Guilty in Baruch College Student’s Hazing Death.”

Elsevier Wants $15 Million Piracy Damages From Sci-Hub and Libgen,” says TorrentFreak.

More legal stories in the sports section below.

Testing, Testing…


Via The Post and Courier: “Citadel cadets score low on a critical-thinking exam. But there’s reason to be skeptical about their results.” That’s the Collegiate Learning Assessment exam (a.k.a. CLA+).

Via Vox: “Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless.”

Via NPR: “AP Test-Takers’ Tweets May Not Give Away Answers, But They Raise Questions.”

More on venture philanthropy and test prep in the venture philanthropy section below.

“Free College”


“Should Students Get ‘Grades 13 and 14’ Free of Charge?” asks The New York Times Magazine.

Via The New York Times: “Free Tuition? Tennessee Could Tutor New York.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Boston-area nonprofit will pay gang members who want to go to college and get off the street, with a goal of improving communities.” The non-profit in question: College Bound Dorchester.

The Business of Student Loans


Via Slate: “Betsy DeVos Wants to Kill a Major Student Loan Forgiveness Program.”

“400,000 were promised student loan forgiveness. Now they are panicking,” says CNN.

Here’s Betsy DeVos in The Wall Street Journal: “Treating Students as Customers.” “How the Education Department is revamping its loan-serving program.”

Reminder: Betsy DeVos has a financial stake in a student loan collection agency.

Via NPR: “Can’t Pay Your Student Loans? The Government May Come After Your House.”

Via Techcrunch: “SoFi gets into wealth management.” That’s a private student loan provider, but I forgot that everyone in ed-tech thinks this whole private student loan thing isn’t something we should be watching because it’s not really ed-tech.

Via the Huffington Post: “Nicki Minaj Is Starting An ‘Official Charity’ To Pay Off Student Loans.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


Via Edsurge: “Why Donald Graham Sold Kaplan University to Purdue for $1.” (And there’s even a disclosure about Edsurge’s financial ties to Graham on this story. Good job, team.)

Via The New York Times: “U.S. Crackdown on For-Profit Schools Is Said to Go Idle.”

Also via The New York Times: “For-Profit Charlotte Law School Is Subject of North Carolina Inquiry.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


“Why Haven’t MOOCs Eliminated Any Professors?” asks IHE blogger Joshua Kim. What’s his evidence that technology has not eliminated jobs – other than this weird insistence that there is no such thing as neoliberalism in ed-tech?

Via The Verge: “Who is MasterClass for? Talking to the people who take online classes with big-name celebs.”

Meanwhile on Campus…


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Caltech Students Protest Return of Professor From Suspension.” That’s Christian Ott, an astrophysics professor, who has been accused of harassing his graduate students.

Via NPR: “As White Supremacists Push Onto Campuses, Schools Wrestle With Response.”

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Where Kids Aren’t Allowed to Put on Sunscreen: in School.”

Zynga and USC enter social and mobile game design partnership,” says Education Dive. I’d totally forgotten that Zynga was still a thing, but apparently the company has enough money to subsidize gaming courses.

Via Inside Higher Ed: Mills College “announces layoffs (likely including tenured professors) and plans for curricular reform – amid a deficit that has grown to $9 million.”

Via The New York Times: “500 Students in a One-Room School: Fallout of New Jersey’s Funding Woes.”

Accreditation and Certification


Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bipartisan support for career and technical education is building, with Virginia Foxx and the Center for American Progress finding rare agreement Tuesday by calling for more of a policy focus on job training that doesn’t require a four-year degree.”

Go, School Sports Team!


Via the Kansas City Star: “Lawsuit says Baylor football players videotaped gang rape, which was ‘bonding experience’.” This is the seventh lawsuit over the school’s sexual assault scandal.

Reminder that Baylor’s former athletic director now works at Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University.

Speaking of Liberty U, via Deadspin: “Liberty Was So Desperate For An FBS Home Opener, It Agreed To Pay Old Dominion $1.32 Million.”

From the HR Department


The open-access publisher PLOS has a new CEO: Alison Mudditt.

Social Capital has hired Marc Mezvinsky as the investment firm morphs its business,” Recode reports. Yes, that’s the Marc Mezvinsky who’s married to Chelsea Clinton. (Here’s a look at Social Capital’s ed-tech portfolio.)

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


“Can a buzzword deliver on its promise?” asks the Clayton Christensen Institute’s Michael Horn. (He’s referring to “personalized learning,” but might as well be any buzzword when you frame the headline that way, bud.)

(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 The New York Times: “How Google Took Over the Classroom.” There’s a lot in this superb article – data, surveillance, testing, costs, branding.

Via Edsurge: “Pearson, an Investor in Knewton, Is ‘Phasing Out’ Partnership on Adaptive Products.” No disclosure in the story that Edsurge shares investors with Knewton, nor that Pearson is, by way of Learn Capital, also an investor in Edsurge.

Via Quartz: “Apple’s new $5 billion campus has a 100,000-square-foot gym and no daycare.”

Via the BBC: “Computer giant Apple is expanding its supply line of talented young people with digital skills, by doubling the intake of its European academy.” I’m guessing those “talented young people” don’t need daycare at work, Apple?

What the conservative ed-reform publication Education Next is watching: “Silicon Valley Billionaires Created AltSchool.”

Edsurge interviews Stanford’s Candace Thille on “Why ‘Black Box’ Software Isn’t Ready to Teach College.”

Edsurge profiles MEDSKL, which is like Khan Academy but for medical school. (What could go wrong?)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Online Exam Proctoring Catches Cheaters, Raises Concerns.” Concerns include privacy, racism.

Edsurge writes that “U of Chicago, UPenn, Harvey Mudd Among Colleges to Join Scholarship App Raise.me” but does not disclose that it shares investors with the company in question.

“​Intel Hits Pause on Edtech Accelerator,” says Edsurge.

“The Sexual Harassment Allegations Against This Virtual Reality Startup Are Really Gross,” writes Buzzfeed. That’s UploadVR. (Here’s a look, from Edsurge, at the company’s involvement in education, so that’s just swell.)

Via Campus Technology: “6 VR Trends to Watch in Education.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


Via The Verge: “Elon Musk-backed OpenAI is teaching robots how to learn just like humans do.” Just like humans do. LOL.

“This robot helps kids with special needs to communicate,” according to Techcrunch. This robot is called Robota and is the creation of a team from Rutgers University.

From the WCET blog: “Using Artificial Intelligence for Personality Insights.”

Via Education Week: “In Kentucky, Rural Schools Betting on Drones to Stem ‘Brain Drain’.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is giving a grant – an undisclosed amount – to the College Board to expand test prep.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


CreativeLive has raised $25 million in Series C funding from GSV Acceleration, Creative Arts Agency, Greylock Partners, Jared Leto, REV, Richard Branson, and Social Capital. The online training company has raised $76 million total. (Disclosure alert.)

Revolution Prep has raised $4 million in Series B funding from Kennet Partners. The test prep company has raised $9 million total.

Marbotic has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Mirabelle investment fund, Marguerite Fournié, and Michelin Development. The company makes wooden blocks that interact with a tablet.

Tutoring startup Byju’s will buy part of Pearson’s tutoring company TutorVista, according to The Economic Times.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


On the heels of news last week that Edmodo had been hacked and some 77 million users’ data leaked, privacy researcher Bill Fitzgerald uncovers targeted ad tracking in Edmodo. (The tracking has since been removed. But this isn’t the first time Edmodo’s had security issues, incidentally.) Edsurge writes that “Edmodo’s Tracking of Students and Teachers Revives Skepticism Surrounding ‘Free’ Edtech Tools” but does not disclose that it shares investors with Edmodo.


Via Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill: “Uber Doesn’t Want You to See This Document About Its Vast Data Surveillance System.” This includes more than 500 pieces of information that Uber tracks for each user. Helpful for putting all those “Uber for education” folks in context.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Wisconsin at Madison Restores Twitter Account After Hack.”

A cyberattack spread globally this week – WannaCry, ransomware that encrypts all files on a computer until the user pays (Bitcoin) to unlock them. “Colleges Dodge Massive Cyberattack,” according to Inside Higher Ed. “US universities race to contain WannaCry ransomware, officials say,” according to Cyberscoop. Other schools affected: the Brewer school system in Maine. Here’s Microsoft’s statement, which points the finger at the NSA. I’m sorry for citing the Daily Mail but I can’t help it here: “Cyber geek who halted global computer attack was suspended by teachers after being accused of hacking school’s system (…and failed his GCSE in IT!)”

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has released a “Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy.”

Data and “Research”


“Don’t Grade Teachers With a Bad Algorithm,” says Cathy O’Neil.

From FdB’s ANOVA blog: “Campbell’s Law and the inevitability of school fraud.” Also: “norm referencing, criterion referencing, and ed policy.” And: “Study of the Week: What Actually Helps Poor Students? Human Beings.”

Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults,” says the Pew Research Center.

Via Mindwires Consulting: “State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Spring 2017 Edition.”

The latest survey from Project Tomorrow: “Speak Up 2016 Research Project for Digital Learning.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. is not adequately developing and sustaining a skilled technical work force, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.”

Via Times Higher Education: “Study examines traits British students like – and don’t like – in instructors.”

“The average first-time, full-time tuition discount rate edged even closer to 50 percent in 2016–17 as net tuition revenue and enrollment struggled.” That’s according to a study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers as reported by Inside Higher Ed.

Big Data in Education” – a new report from the National Academy of Education.

Predictive Analytics in Higher Education: Five Guiding Practices for Ethical Use” – a new report from New America.

Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ,” says Vox.

Mindfulness training does not foster empathy, and can even make narcissists worse,” says the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest.

“Sorry, Graphology Isn’t a Real Science,” says Anne Trubek.

Via NPR: “Whirring, Purring Fidget Spinners Provide Entertainment, Not ADHD Help.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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