(National) Education Politics

Via NPR: “In Turkey, Schools Will Stop Teaching Evolution This Fall.”

More on Betsy DeVos’ investment in Neurocore in the upgrade/downgrade section below. More on immigration and education in the immigration section below.

(State and Local) Education Politics

“Daniel Loeb’s Racially Charged Post Could Be Sticking Point for Expansion of Success Academy Charter Schools,” says The Wall Street Journal. Related: a Twitter thread from Leo Casey about the various connections the Success Academy chain has to Trump and his wealth right-wing backers the Mercers.

Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Mystery of SF schools’ budget persists as new year starts.” Teachers cannot afford to live in San Francisco, and “23 classrooms lacked teachers six days before the students’ return.”

Via Maine Public Radio: “ Do Laptops Help Learning? A Look At The Only Statewide School Laptop Program.” That’s the statewide laptop program in Mainethanks Seymour! – that current governor Paul LePage is eager to dismantle.

“Over 1k student-issued iPads are unaccounted for” in a school system in West Virginia, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.

Immigration and Education

In the UK, “Theresa May under fire as student visa myth exposed,” The Guardian reports. “New data, published by the Office for National Statistics and based on recently created exit checks at Britain’s borders, showed just 4,600 overstayed their visa last year. Estimates for previous years had been close to 100,000.”

Via The Nation: “Trump’s Border Security May Search Your Social Media by ‘Tone’.”

Via Education Week: “Setback for DACA Supporters Places Program’s Fate Squarely in Trump’s Hands.”

“Trump seriously considering ending DACA,” Axios says.

More on court cases surrounding immigration in the section below.

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “Tucson’s Mexican Studies Program Was a Victim of ‘Racial Animus,’ Judge Says.” More via The LA Times.

Via The LA Times: “A lawsuit claims a Pasadena principal threatened to set immigration officers on a mother and a caretaker.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The loan servicer tasked with handling federal loan forgiveness programs overcharged borrowers and prevented them from making qualifying payments that would put them on track for loan forgiveness, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey alleged in a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court Wednesday.” The company in question: FedLoan Servicing. More from Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy.

Via The AP: “A Pittsburgh-area school with a history of racial tension created a culture of verbal abuse and excessive force that allowed resource officers to shock students with stun guns and body-slam them, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed Wednesday.” The school: Woodland Hills High School.

Testing, Testing…

“What You Should Know About The New Summer SAT,” according to NPR.

Via “Alabama State Board of Education (SBOE) member Ella Bell wants to know why we can’t force special needs children into an institution in an effort to help improve test scores in Alabama’s public schools.” Um, because of federal law and students’ civil rights?

Via The New York Times: “Struggling Schools Improve on Test Scores, but Not All Are Safe.”

The Business of Student Loans

“You can now buy $400 pants with a subprime loan,” The Outline notes in an article about Affirm, which also offers private student loans (marketed particularly towards those in coding bootcamps).

More on legal cases involving student loan servers in the courts section above; more on loan forgiveness and for-profits in the for-profit section above; more on student loan companies raising venture capital in the venture capital section below.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Inside Higher Ed: “As Charlotte School of Law officially announces it will shut down, the Department of Education sets out potential options for former students. Those who withdrew from the troubled program before the spring will face a tougher path to discharging federal student loans.”

Inside Higher Ed reviews Law Mart: Justice, Access and For-Profit Law Schools, a new book on for-profit law schools by University of Illinois Springfield professor Riaz Tejani.

Via The New York Times: “As Coding Boot Camps Close, the Field Faces a Reality Check.”

More on bootcamps and EQUIP in the “business of job training” section below.

Elsewhere on Campus…

Inside Higher Ed reports on what’s happened to students who attended recent white nationalist / white supremacist rallies. More via Time: “Student Who Attended Charlottesville White Supremacist Rally Leaves Boston University After Backlash.”

Via The Washington Post: “U-Va. to examine campus response to Charlottesville protests.”

“Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Stephen Bannon Are Invited to Speak at UC-Berkeley,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Penn State has denied white nationalist Richard Spencer’s request to speak on campus.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How One White Nationalist Became – and Remains – a Thorn in Texas A&M’s Side.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education is tracking Confederate monuments on college campuses.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Duke University on Saturday announced that it had removed a statue of Robert E. Lee from the entrance to the university chapel. On Sunday night, the University of Texas at Austin announced it would remove statues of Lee and three other Confederate leaders from a prominent campus location. And Bowdoin College on Saturday said that it would take down a plaque honoring Jefferson Davis and college alumni who fought for the Confederacy.” More on the statue at Duke via the university’s newspaper.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “UNC Says It Can’t Legally Remove Confederate Statue, Despite Governor’s Guidance.”

Via The Telegraph: “Egyptian academic accused of ‘glorifying Satan’ after teaching Milton’s Paradise Lost.” The scholar in question: Dr Mona Prince, a lecturer at Suez University.

Brandeis University was closed on Wednesday after receiving “emailed threats.”

University of Cincinnati’s servers crashed on the first day of school, The News Record reports.

Via The West Australian: “Mobile devices drive student suspensions.”

Via The Dallas Morning News: “Highland Park ISD parent calls book on poverty ‘socialist, Marxist’.” The book in question, The Working Poor: Invisible in America, is used in an AP English class.

Accreditation and Certification

Via NPR: “Some Liberty University Grads Are Returning Their Diplomas To Protest Trump.”

Seton Hall University announced that it’s now offering a Cybersecurity Certification. It’ll be offered through “New Horizons, a CompTIA Platinum Partner, to custom craft a ‘Boot Camp’ introduction to cybersecurity.” It’s fascinating to see long-time tech training companies like CompTIA rebrand themselves as “bootcamps.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The Washington Post: “‘The leading edge of a much larger iceberg’: New Jersey high school disbands football team.”

Via The AP: “A Washington state high school football coach took advantage of his position when he prayed on the field after games, and he’s not entitled to immediately get his job back, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.”

From the HR Department

Via The Washington Post: “Graduate students won right to organize as employees, but that victory is in peril under Trump.”

80% Of America’s Teachers Are White,” Liz Dwyer reminds us, and “ It’s not just students of color who benefit from a diverse teaching force.”

New York "City Will Move Sidelined Teachers From Limbo to Classrooms," The NYT reports.

The Business of Job Training

Inside Higher Ed notes that the new GI Bill signed by President Trump “includes a $75 million program to let military veterans use federal benefits for technology courses through noncollege providers – another potential challenge to traditional higher ed.” That’s $75 million for EQUIP, which “allows a handful of boot camps and online course providers to be eligible for federal financial aid through partnerships with accredited colleges.”

Via The Eater: “KFC’s New Employee Training Game Is a Virtual Reality Nightmare.”

The New Stack onCoding in Prison: The Dev Shop at San Quentin.” There’s been a lot of positive press about this program, but little of it asks difficult questions about the use of prison labor. (Instead, it tends to laud the effort simply because it’s coding.) The inmates are paid $16.77 per hour – but that’s not what they actually earn, as the prison takes part of the money to pay for “room and board” among other things.

Via MIT Technology Review: “The Myth of the Skills Gap.”

Via Buzzfeed: “17 Alexa Skills That Don’t Need To Exist.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Can Technology Help Prevent Improper Pell Payments?asks RealClear Education.

Is the U.S. Education System Ready for CS for All?asks Jennifer Wong in Communication of the ACM.

(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 Education Week: US Secretary of Education Betsy "DeVos Invested in Company Under Investigation for Misleading Claims.“ The company is Neurocore, which the National Advertising Division has formally recommended to ”stop making a wide range of advertising claims and stop promoting many of its user testimonials."

Edsurge has a puff piece about VIPKID, which announced it had raised a huge amount of money this week: “What’s It Like Tutoring for VIPKID, the Chinese Company That Just Raised $200 Million?” (More details on the funding in the investment section below.) No disclosure in this article that Edsurge shares an investor with VIPKID. And no critical analysis of race, imperialism, labor, and ed-tech either.

From the press release: “Amazon Announces TenMarks Writing – New Online Curriculum for Teachers That Combines Rigor and Fun to Unlock the Writer in Every Student.” Rigor and fun! More details from EdWeek’s Market Brief.

Via Edsurge: “​Open Up Resources Announces First Full Math Curriculum – And Its Plans for Profitability.” Open Up Resources is a non-profit – LOL – whose CEO Larry Singer used to be the managing director for Pearson’s K–12 marketing sales.

Melinda Gates has an op-ed in The Washington Post: “I spent my career in technology. I wasn’t prepared for its effect on my kids.” One might say that this is deeply ironic; but then again, Melinda Gates and her husband’s push for more technology in schools was never about her kids.

Edsurge invites readers to “Meet the 5 Education Technology Startups From Y Combinator’s Summer 2017 Class.” These are: Lambda School, Mystery Science, Nimble, Peergrade, and Py. You can tell a lot about what Silicon Valley imagine the future of education to look like – a business, obviously – based on these investments.

Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill writes about the latest from the LMS provider Instructure, noting “culture as a competitive weapon.”

Barnes & Noble partners with Target to take on Amazon. Walmart and Google partner to take on Amazon.

Via Reuters: “LexisNexis, a provider of legal, regulatory and business information, said on Tuesday it had withdrawn two products from the Chinese market in March this year after it was asked to remove some content.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Facing intense criticism for caving to censors, Cambridge University Press restores access to more than 300 journal articles it had blocked in China – but the problem for publishers isn’t going away. Chinese authorities also try to block articles from another journal.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

Via The AP: “Why AI visionary Andrew Ng teaches humans to teach computers.”

Via Singularity Hub: “Why Education Is the Hardest Sector of the Economy to Automate.” But Singularity Hub does believe it’s possible nonetheless.

Teaching Robots to Learn Teaches the Students Too,” says Campus Technology.

“A Future of Genetically Engineered Children Is Closer Than You’d Think,” says Mother Jones. Wheeee.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

Via Bloomberg: Bill "Gates Makes Largest Donation Since 2000 With $5 Billion Gift.“ The ”gift" goes to the Gates Foundation – 64 million Microsoft shares.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

VIPKID has raised $200 million in Series D funding from Sequoia Capital, Tencent Holdings, Sinovation Ventures, and YP Capital. The online tutoring company has raised $325 million total.

Prodigy Finance has raised $40 million in Series C funding from Index Ventures, AlphaCode Club, and Balderton Capital. The student loan provider has raised $52.5 million total.

School Speciality has acquired Triumph Learning.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via the BBC: “Sensor tracks who is driving in your neighbourhood.” This nifty example of racist technology comes from Flock and is backed by Y Combinator.

Via Business Insider: “People are paying $80,000 for ‘family architects’ to fix their kids through 24/7 surveillance.”

Via The Verge: “Transgender YouTubers had their videos grabbed to train facial recognition software.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via Pacific Standard: “A New Report Finds Higher Education Funding Is Still Not Back to Pre-Recession Levels.”

“What If Students Have More Confidence in Growth Mindsets Than Their Teachers?” asks Jack McDermott, marketing director for Panorama Education in Edsurge. (Edsurge and Panorama Education share several investors, although there’s no disclosure of that in this article.)

Via Education Week: “Closing Failing Schools Doesn’t Help Most Students, Study Finds.”

Oldest Kids In Class Do Better, Even Through College,” says NPR. I was always the youngest. Go me.

Via Education Dive: “Cultivating emotional resilience in teachers improves the classroom for all.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “The Private School Market Is Overwhelmingly a Small-School Market.”

Via EDUCAUSE: “Trend Watch 2017: Which IT Trends Is Higher Education Responding To?”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds that technology spending spurs gains in colleges’ outputs – but they vary depending on the institution.”

According to “market research,” “VR, AR, 3D Printing and Data Analytics Overtake Visual Tech Market in Education,” Campus Technology predicts.

AR and VR poised to climb out of the ‘trough of dillusionment’ on Gartner Hype Cycle,” Boing Boing predicts.

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Education Procurement Hits Two-Year High in 2nd Quarter of 2017.”

Via The New York Times: “Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago.”

“According to the National Retail Federation, 60% of the $29.5 billion spent on back-to-school shopping nationwide will be spent on electronics,” says Education Dive rewriting a press release rewritten by Ed-Tech Magazine.

It’s time for my least favorite “back-to-school” ritual: Beloit College’s “mind-set list.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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