(National) Education Politics

US Secretary of Education spoke to ALEC this week. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a right-wing organization that pens model legislation, including the “Stand Your Ground” gun laws, anti-union legislation, and laws that expand virtual schools. (Here’s a list of education organizations that are members or sponsors.) Betsy DeVos has previously invested in K–12 Inc, a prominent ALEC member. Education Week reminds us “Why Betsy DeVos and ALEC Are Natural Allies on School Choice.”

The Department of Education released DeVos’s remarks to ALEC, which include an invocation of Margaret Thatcher’s famous quotation “There is no such thing as society.”

Via The Washington Post: “DeVos tells conservative lawmakers what they like to hear: More local control, school choice.” Protestors were outside the meeting in force.

“Local control,” sure. But as Education Week reports, “States Bristle as DeVos Ed. Dept. Critiques Their ESSA Plans.”

Elsewhere in irony, WaPo’s Valerie Strauss writes about “The deep irony in Betsy DeVos’s first speech on special education.”

President Trump Made a Promise to Black Colleges. It Hasn’t Happened,” writes The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Adam Harris.

Via Politico: “DeVos: Civil rights office will return to being a ‘neutral’ agency.” I do not know what it means to be “neutral” on civil rights unless you just replace “neutral” with “whiteness.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “More than 50 groups have signed a letter demanding that Candice E. Jackson, acting assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, reject a statement she made this month in a New York Times interview. Ms. Jackson told the newspaper that ‘90 percent’ of campus sexual-assault accusations resulted from an accuser’s regret over a sexual encounter.” Also from CHE: “Key Democrat Calls for DeVos to Remove Top Civil-Rights Official.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “White House Touts FCC Chair’s Plan to Scale Back Net Neutrality.”

Inside Higher Ed reports that “The Republican budget resolution envisions more than $236 billion in cuts to mandatory spending for education programs over 10 years.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The House veterans affairs committee on Wednesday unanimously approved an update to the Post–9/11 GI Bill, an ambitious package of legislation that would lift the lifetime time limit on use of benefits and restore aid for veterans affected by closures of for-profit colleges, among other provisions.”

The Kenyan Ministry of Education says that the Bridge International Academies are not complying with the country’s laws, and the company, which runs chains of schools across the developing world, has not received approval for its curriculum.

Africa is a Country continues its coverage of Bridge, “Why is Liberia’s Government rushing to sell its public schools to U.S. for-profits?”

Of course none of this – not Africa is a Country’s excellent reporting nor Peg Tyre’s recent story in the NYT – stops Nicholas Kristof from touting Bridge as a “solution.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via Education Week: “Minecraft Party to Raise Money for Technology in Philly Schools.”

Via Chalkbeat: “New York City continues to lose track of thousands of school computers, audit finds.”

Immigration and Education

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Twelve higher education associations this week registered ‘serious concern’ about a proposal under consideration at the Department of Homeland Security that would require international students to reapply annually for permission to stay in the U.S.”

Education in the Courts

Via NBC: “Arizona: Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination In Mexican American Studies Ban Back in Court.”

The curriculum company Great Minds is appealing a lawsuit in which it claimed that FedEx had violated the “open” in its open educational resources by making copies.

Via The Washington Post: “Iran sentences Princeton graduate student to 10 years for espionage, report says.”

Testing, Testing…

Via Education Week: “Thousands of English-Learners Fall Short on Test of Language Skills.” The test in question in ACCESS 2.0, which recently changed how it was scored.

More colleges are going “test optional” for applicants: Dominican College, High Point University, the University of Evansville, and Hanover College.

The Business of Student Loans

Via The New York Times: “As Paperwork Goes Missing, Private Student Loan Debts May Be Wiped Away.”

Via NPR: “Private Student Loans: The Rise And Fall (And Rise Again?)” (Sallie Mae says that student borrowing is rising.)

Via NPR: “Teachers With Student Debt: The Struggle, The Causes And What Comes Next.”

There’s more research on student debt in the research section below.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Edsurge: “Dev Bootcamp Community Reacts to Closure Decision.” (Disclosure alert.)

Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Dev Bootcamp couldn’t tough out industry shakeout.”

The Iron Yard announced this week that it will also be closing. This coding bootcamp was acquired by the University of Phoenix’s parent company, Apollo Education Group, in 2015.

“Troubled Colleges Rebrand Under Faux-Latin Names,” Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy reports. The for-profit Everest College is now “Altierus,” and DeVry is “Adtalem.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

The LA Times asks, “ In this digital self-help age, just how effective are MasterClass’s A-list celebrity workshops?”

Campus Technology rewrites the press release that Examity will be used for identify verification and proctoring in edX classes.

Coursera has a new partner, the insurance company AXA, which will offer some 300 Coursera classes to its employees.

“What if the US had an OU?” the Open University’s Martin Weller asks.

Meanwhile on Campus…

This LA Times story is something else: “An overdose, a young companion, drug-fueled parties: The secret life of USC med school dean.”

Anya Kamenetz interviews Purdue’s president Mitch Daniels about the future of higher ed.

Campus Reform continues to make accusations against professors and stir up hate mobs against them. From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Case of Mistaken Identity Spurs Hateful Messages for a Sikh Professor.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Central Florida Student Says He Was Suspended for Viral Tweet of Ex’s Apology.”

“My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges – and I almost lost myself in the process,” writes Anisah Karim. This is a good example of why we should be more critical when we hear about schools that boast everyone was admitted to college – at what cost?

“Students who can’t afford uniforms in New Orleans all-charter-system are routinely barred from attending school. And their parents can end up in jail,” AlterNet reports.

Via NPR: “When Black Hair Violates The Dress Code.”

“My Black Stepson Is Proof That Our Schools Put White Culture First” by Andre Perry. Important thoughts here on social emotional learning and structural racism.

Via The Washington Post: “Some D.C. high schools are reporting only a fraction of suspensions.”

Via Education Week: “For Principals, Student Sexting a Speeding ‘Freight Train,’ Full of Peril.”

Accreditation and Certification

Credly Receives Open Badges Certification,” Campus Technology reports.

Go, School Sports Team!

Hugh Freeze resigns as Ole Miss’ football coach,” The Clarion-Ledger reports. The move comes after it was revealed he made a call to an escort service.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Former National Football League player and current Fox NFL analyst Chris Spielman has filed a federal lawsuit against his alma mater, Ohio State University, claiming his image and those of other athletes were used without permission.”

Via Deadspin: “Teens Discover The Boston Garden Has Ignored Law For Decades, May Owe State Millions.”

From the HR Department

Rebecca Schuman is back with her annual “Rate My JIL,” where she skewers the higher ed job market. She takes on a job posting at the University of Illinois Chicago that pays just $28K, for starters. IHE writes about the “outcry,” and “Dean Dad” Matt Reed responds with his own “speculative postmortem.”

Former Under Secretary of Education and former NewSchools Venture Fund CEO Ted Mitchell is the new head of the lobbying group American Council on Education (ACE).

Via Patheos: “BYU-Idaho Professor Fired After Defending LGBT Rights in Private Facebook Post.”

Personalized learningequals cutting the teacher workforce in Oklahoma.

Via NPR: “Number Of Teens Working Summer Jobs Declines.”

The Business of Job Training

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Ads Spell Out What Career and Technical Education Really Is – and Who It’s For.”

Stanford University’s Larry Cuban publishes part 3 of his series “Coding: The New Vocationalism.”

Edsurge investigates the validity of a claim it published that “people will change careers 15 times over their lifetimes.” Perhaps fact-check these sorts of things before publishing them?

Via the Google blog: “Google introduces Hire, a new recruiting app that integrates with G Suite.”

Google boasts about teaching skills” using VR.

Sound the “factory model of education klaxon”! Edsurge on “Bridging the School-to-Business Gap: What Public Schools Can Learn From Industry.”

Contests and Competitions

Via NPR: “Students Compete In First-Ever International High School Robotics Competition.”

The New York Times reports that “Burundi Robotics Team Vanishes After U.S. Competition.” Authorities do not believe foul play is involved – two of the students were seen crossing into Canada.

Via Techcrunch: “Literacy XPRIZE starts field tests of semifinalist apps in LA, Philadelphia and Dallas.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Will Virtual Reality Drive Deeper Learning?” asks Edutopia.

Is gender inequality in technology a good thing?” asks Donald Clark, using “neurodiversity” as an excuse to justify the ongoing exclusion of women from the field.

Can predictive analytics help higher ed save $1M a year?” asks Education Dive.

(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

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla insists that “Venture capital has less sexual harassment than other industries.” (Khosla’s education portfolio includes Kiddom, Affirm, Bridge International Academies, littleBit, and Piazza. His wife is the co-founder of OER organization CK–12.)

Via Wired’s Nitasha Tiku: “VC Firms Promise to Stamp Out Sexual Harassment. Sounds Familiar.” That is, it sounds a lot like the industry’s promises to address diversity.

The Teaching Channel, a video-based professional development organization heavily backed by the Gates Foundation, is becoming a for-profit company.

Via KQED’s Mindshift: “MIT’s Scratch Program Is Evolving For Greater, More Mobile Creativity.”

Via Edsurge: “Amazon Inspire Goes Live (But Without Controversial Share Feature).”

The Verge profiles the SocialStar Creator Camp, a summer camp for teens wanting to become viral Internet stars.

“Together, technology and teachers can revamp schools,” says The Economist, touting Skinner’s work – it’s like the author read my work but didn’t really read my work.

Via Education Week: “Personalized Learning: ‘A Cautionary Tale’.”

eCampus News offers “9 online learning predictions for the upcoming term.” The list includes cloud computing, ffs.

It’s 2017, and ed-tech is so “disruptive” that we’re still debating the LMS, a technology that is at least 30 years old (and that’s just if you date it to the founding of Blackboard. It’s about 50 years old if you recognize some of PLATO’s functionality is LMS-like.) From WCET: “In Defense of the LMS.” Via Bryan Alexander: “Moodle and the next LMS: reflections and more questions.” Brian Lamb and Jim Groom offers some challenges to the next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE) – because if all else fails, go with a new acronym. More on the LMS in the research section below.

Speaking of a very strange sense of history: most of these items touted by Edsurge as “90s ed-tech” were not invented in the 1990s.

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

Let Robots Teach American Schoolkids,” says George Mason University economics professor Tyler Cowen. Hell, why not let robots teach economics at George Mason University?!

Via Edsurge: “At Louisville Summer Camps, Robots Meet Literacy to Support Vulnerable Students.” (Disclosure alert.)

More on robots in the contest section above.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

Who’s received Gates Foundation grant money since 1998? I’ve published descriptions of the 3000+ grants here.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

University World News reports that the private equity firm has invested $275 million to build a platform for African universities – Honoris United Universities.

Kahoot has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Creandum, Northzone, and Microsoft Ventures. The gaming company has raised $26.5 million total. Edsurge reports it’s also joined the Disney Accelerator program.

Ironhack has raised $3 million in Series A funding form JME Venture Capital. It’s another coding bootcamp. Good luck, guys.

Career development company Learnerbly has raised $2.09 million in seed funding from Frontline Ventures, Claire Davenport, Future Planet Capital, Jason Stockwood, London Co-Investment Fund, Playfair Capital, Renaud Visage, R Ventures, and Stephan Thomas.

PeopleGrove has raised $1.8 million in seed funding from Reach Capital, Bisk Ventures, Collaborative Fund, FLOODGATE, GSV Acceleration, Karl Ulrich, LaunchCapital, RiverPark Ventures, and University Ventures. The mentorship platform has raised $2.53 million total.

KickUp has raised $730,000 in seed funding from Red House Education. The professional development company has raised $2.27 million total.

Escape Technology has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Alpine Investors.

Advertising company AcademixDirect has acquired “career exploration app” PathSource.

Silverback Learning has acquired testing company EdifyAssess.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Schools collect more data, but how is it used?” asks The Hechinger Report’s Nichole Dobo.

From the Ed-Fi Alliance’s blog: “The Ed-Fi Alliance Releases Evolutionary Data Standard v2.1.”

Via Campus Technology: “Average Cost Per Record of US Data Breach in Ed: $245.”

Via Education Week: “University, middle school partner on cybersecurity education.”

Data and “Research”

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of colleges and universities eligible to award financial aid has fallen precipitously in the last year. “The Culling of Higher Ed Begins,” says Inside Higher Ed. “Numerous schools shut down programs due to the threat of the Obama administration’s ‘gainful employment’ rules, which yank financial aid eligibility from for-profit college programs where students take on too much debt and earn little in return,” Buzzfeed points out.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new report from Third Way, a centrist think tank, attempts to measure higher education’s performance across sectors and types of institutions. The group used federal data on completion, students’ earnings six years after enrollment and loan repayment rates. The report features aggregate figures for four-year institutions, community colleges and certificate-granting institutions, with breakouts by sector.”

“Research for Action has released the results of a two-year examination of three states’ performance-based funding formulas for public colleges,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Edsurge: “How Much Do Educators Care About Edtech Efficacy? Less Than You Might Think.”

Via Edsurge: “‘Precision Education’ Hopes to Apply Big Data to Lift Diverse Student Groups.” (This headline pairs nicely with the one above and one below, don’t you think?)

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Adaptive Learning Products Gain Ground in K–12, Market Survey Finds.” boasts that “Girls set AP Computer Science record…skyrocketing growth outpaces boys.” The industry-backed group is taking credit for the increase in the number of AP CS test-takers. There’s a nifty infographic, which Melinda Gates shared on Twitter. (No disclosure in the Edsurge coverage that the College Board,, and Edsurge itself are all backed by Gates Foundation money.) Like Tim Stahmer, I have some questions about that graph. I mean, the number of AP exams in CS recently doubled too. Is it that surprising that, in turn, the number of exams taken grew as well? How well are these students doing in the AP courses (and not just on the exam)? And “why are underrepresented minorities and poor over-represented in courses?” Mark Guzdial asks.

Well, I suppose Senator John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis was bound to elicit these sorts of stories. From The Atlantic: “Do Cellphones Cause Brain Cancer or Not?”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “An overwhelming majority of colleges and universities did not change priority aid deadlines in response to an earlier financial aid cycle last year, according to a survey of member institutions by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.”

“A new research paper finds that excess credit hour policies don’t lead to completion, just more student debt,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that rising student debt levels are a substantial contributor to the decline in home ownership among young Americans.”

Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill provides data on the “Academic LMS Market Share By Enrollments” – part 1 and part 2.

“Why Americans Think So Poorly of the Country’s Schools” – Jack Schneider on polls and surveys about public education.

The Chronicle of Higher Education notes that the Campaign for Accountability has had to update its list of scholars who’ve been funded by Google, due to a number of criticisms and flaws in the data. Worth noting: the group is funded by Google’s arch-nemesis, Oracle.


Maryan Mirzakhani, the first woman to with math’s Field Medal, has died from cancer. A professor at Stanford, she was 40. What a loss.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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