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(National) Education Politics


US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos launched a “rethink schools” tour. Here are some reports from her travels:

Via Chalkbeat: “What is Betsy DeVos’s ‘rethink school’ initiative all about? Her Wyoming speech offers clues.”

DeVos visited my hometown of Casper, Wyoming to give this speech where she spoke at the Woods Learning Center. She was there to tout “choice,” something that she says most public school students and their families do not have. (This is part of her push for vouchers.) When I was growing up the building that now houses Woods was a school for students with special needs, including at one time, a school for deaf students. I’ve been thinking about the history of the language of “choice” and how “choice” and the lack of “choice” has been intertwined segregation and discrimination. That’s not the story that DeVos wants to tell, of course.)

Via Chalkbeat: “Here’s what Betsy DeVos had to say in Denver about DACA, student loans and opting out of state tests.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos is headed to an Indianapolis high school for students recovering from addiction.”

“What DeVos Got Wrong in Her Speech on the ’Dear Colleague’ Letter,” Scott Schneider writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

(State and Local) Education Politics


Via The LA Times: “L.A. school board president faces felony charges over campaign contributions.” Ref Rodriguez, like most of the current members of the LAUSD school board, has strong financial backing from the charter school industry.

More LAUSD news in the legal section below.

Via The New York Times: “After More Than 20 Years, Newark to Regain Control of Its Schools.”

Via Chalkbeat: “‘Common Core’ no more: New York moves to adopt revised standards with new name.”

Via the AP: “School at Cook County Jail reported phony attendance numbers.” That’s according to an audit by the Chicago Public Schools’ inspector general of an alternative high school inside the jail.

Via The LA Times: “ Offering free computers, a small L.A. school district enrolled Catholic school students from Bakersfield.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of North Carolina system Board of Governors voted 24 to 3, with one abstention, Friday to bar litigation by the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law’s Center for Civil Rights. The proposal voted on is technically a ban on all centers and institutes engaging in litigation, but the only entity that litigates is the Center for Civil Rights.” The center, as the name suggests, does legal work for civil rights and low-income groups. Do keep this in mind while conservatives try to argue that the big threat to “free speech on campus” is young leftists.

Immigration and Education


Via ProPublica: “Relatives of Undocumented Children Caught Up in ICE Dragnet.”

There’s more on immigration and Trump’s move to end DACA in the legal section below.

Education in the Courts


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of California Sues Trump Administration Over DACA Decision.”

Via The LA Times: “L.A. Unified settles lawsuits with teacher Rafe Esquith.”

The Business of Student Loans (and the Business of Paying for School)


SoFi: a student loan company and one of the most well-funded ed-tech companies out there sure seems swell. Via The New York Times: “‘It Was a Frat House’: Inside the Sex Scandal That Toppled SoFi’s C.E.O..”

More on SoFi in the HR section below.

RaiseMe, a platform that allows students to earn incremental college scholarship dollars as they attain academic and other goals in high school, is expanding its offering to community college students,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Buzzfeed: “Got Student Debt? Soon Your Employer Might Help With That.”

Via Edsurge: “As Bootcamps Look for Novel Ways for Students to Pay For Their Studies, Many Try ‘Deferred Tuition’.”

Do note how student financial aid startups are still raising venture capital (and how now, I guess, ed-tech publications cover these stories when before they insisted these weren’t ed-tech).

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to grant employees a waiver of a rule barring receipt of salary or other benefits from for-profit colleges. The proposed regulation was published in the federal register Thursday and would take effect next month without ‘adverse comment.’”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs this week backed Ashford University‘s attempt to shift its state-based eligibility for veterans’ benefits from Iowa to Arizona, likely preserving the for-profit university’s access to Post–9/11 GI Bill and active-duty military tuition benefits.”

Delta Career Education Corporation, a privately held for-profit college company, is phasing out seven of its campuses,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

There’s more for-profit news in the HR and accreditation sections below.

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


California Should Watch Arkansas Process for Creating New Online Institution,” says Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill.

Meanwhile on Campus…


Harvard has rescinded its appointment of Chelsea Manning as a fellow in its Institute of Politics.

Harvard has also rescinded the acceptance of Michelle Jones to its PhD program in history. More from The Marshall Project: “In prison for more than 20 years, Michelle Jones was chosen for Harvard’s elite graduate history program – until the university decided her redemption was not enough.”

Via The Spokesman-Review: “One student dead, three in hospital after classmate opens fire at Freeman High School.” The high school is in Spokane, Washington.

“Who Gets Rescheduled at Berkeley,” asks Inside Higher Ed. “It’s not Milo.” (It’s Anna Tsing, an anthropology professor at UC Santa Cruz. Priorities.)

Via The New York Times: “Bannon Will Address Berkeley, a Hotbed of Conflict Over Free Speech.”

Via Mother Jones: “She Was a Rising Star at a Major University. Then a Lecherous Professor Made Her Life Hell.” The professor in question: Richard Aslin at the University of Rochester.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A University of Virginia working group convened after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Va., in August has released an assessment on the university’s response and what it could have done better. It points to policies the university can pro-actively ennact, and laws that could have been enforced by university police.”

Via David Perry: “A professor of Atmospheric Sciences stepped down (he was 70) at the University of Illinois rather than appropriately address accommodations in his classroom. His emails to the student emerged in the process, including one he BCC’d to the entire class saying disability support doesn’t belong on campus.”

Birmingham-Southern Cuts Tuition in Half,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Phil Hill: “Some Ed Tech Perspective on UC’s Billion-Dollar Payroll System Fiasco.”

Accreditation and Certification


Via Inside Higher Ed: “Terminated Accreditor Applies for Recognition.” That’s the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which accredits mostly for-profits and whose federal recognition the Obama Administration had moved to rescind.

Educause has published an article about “The Mastery Transcript Consortium,” a group of independent schools that are “reinventing” the college transcript. (I’m skeptical that this is as powerful as folks claim until it exists equitably across schools and not only among those that already given students a leg-up in the college admissions process.)

“A regional accreditor recently denied an Arizona community college’s bid to increase its online degree offerings, with a decision that highlights challenges colleges may face when seeking to expand their online presence,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The community college: Scottsdale Community College. The accreditor: the Higher Learning Commission.

Via The CBC: “Toronto man ‘angry’ after learning his $8,100 master’s degree that required no exams or academic work is fake.” This “Toronto man” is Erwin Sniedzins, who runs an ed-tech company called Mount Knowledge.

More research on certification in the research section below.

Go, School Sports Team!


“How does a university go about replacing a live mascot?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Steve Kolowich.

From the HR Department


Via The New York Times: “SoFi Board Says C.E.O. Is Out Immediately Amid Sexual Harassment Scandal.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Laureate Education Inc. announced Thursday that effective Jan. 1, 2018, Eilif Serck-Hanssen will become the for-profit company’s new chief executive officer and Ricardo Berckemeyer will take over as the company’s president. Serck-Hanssen is replacing current CEO Douglas Becker, who will become the nonexecutive chairman of Laureate’s Board of Directors.”

danah boyd has announced that she’ll be stepping down from running her research organization Data & Society. The new executive director: Janet Haven.

Upgrades and Downgrades


Apple had a thing. Its website touts the “Highlights from Apple’s keynote event.” Among the new features: facial recognition to unlock the new iPhone. I swear if I see anyone arguing this will be great for education…

“Just What the Heck Was That XQ Super School Live Special?” asks Edsurge. John Merrow also has thoughts on the TV show.

Inside Higher Ed writes about the messaging app Islands and wonders if it’s “the next Yik Yak.”

According to WCET, “Developing Effective Courses Using Adaptive Learning Begins with Proper Alignment.”

Via Getting Smart: “Virtual and Augmented Reality in Personalized Learning.”

Tom Vander Ark lists “15 Dimensions of Personalized Learning.”

Via Edsurge: “Questioning the Core Assumptions of Personalized Learning With Math Blogger Dan Meyer.”

More on “personalization” in the “research” section below.

Michael Horn profiles John Danner about his new tutoring startup Zeal: “John Danner, Education Entrepreneur, Doubles Down On Human Capital.”

Via Engadget: “Snapchat plans to add college newspapers to its Discover section.”

This headline doesn’t quite have the right structure to go in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section, although I’d wager we do know the answer to the question: “Can Techie Parents Reinvent School For Everyone - Or Just Their Rich Kids?

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


Can Artificial Intelligence Help Teachers Find the Right Lesson Plans?asks Education Week.

Will AI Be The Next Big Thing In The Classroom?asks Forbes.

Could an App Help Teachers Recognize Their Own Biases?asks Education Week.

(Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


“​Teachers Can Now Use IBM’s Watson to Search for Free Lesson Plans,” Edsurge pronounces. IBM wants us to believe that Watson is incredibly powerful – powerful enough, even, to search 1000 OER. Wowee.

There’s more about IBM Watson (and AI in general) in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section, because of course.

Speaking of bullshit, the Calling Bullshit course challenges a study that’s been in the news recently claiming that AI can identify sexual orientation based on people’s faces. More on this study in IHE.

Wow, this story is getting a lot of play: via TES: “Machines ‘will replace teachers within 10 years’.” From iNews: “Within ten years, human teachers will be phased out, replaced by machines, says vice chancellor.”

Via Education Dive: “Researcher: AI won’t replace teachers.”

Via TeacherCast: “Why Teachers Will Never Be Replaced By Robots.”

Inside Higher Ed on Robot-Proof: “Northeastern president discusses his new book on how higher education can train students for careers where technology cannot make them redundant.”

Via Campus Technology: “ProctorU Intros AI-Based Online Proctoring”: “Machine learning allows ProctorU Auto to adapt to student behavior, improving its analysis with each exam.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


“Great EdTech Success Story Turns Into The Biggest Philanthropic Story of the Year,” Getting Smart argues, pointing to Curriculum Associates’ donation of its stock to the Iowa State University Foundation. Iowa State University Foundation has, in turn, sold the stock to Berkshire Partners for around $145 million.

Via Edsurge: “Salesforce Gifts $12.2M to Expand Computer Science in S.F., Oakland Public Schools.”

“Charity is no substitute for justice withheld” – St. Augustine

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


Absorb Software has raised $59 million from Silversmith Capital Partners to build an LMS.

Unacademy has raised $11.5 million in Series B funding from Sequoia India, SAIF Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, and Blume Ventures. The online education platform has raised $17.5 million total.

MissionU has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding from FirstMark, BoxGroup, First Round Capital, John Doerr, Learn Capital, Omidyar Network, Rethink Education, and University Ventures. The “startup university” has raised $11.5 million total. (No disclosure from Edsurge in its coverage of the funding that it shares several investors with MissionU. No disclosure to that end on any of the stories it’s published on the startup – three all told. Not too shabby for a school that just opened to its first cohort.)

Piper has raised $7.6 million in Series A funding Owl Ventures, Reach Capital, StartX, and Charles Huang. The Minecraft-based-engineering company has raised $9.75 million total.

Vemo Education has raised $7.4 million in seed funding from University Ventures, NextGen Venture Partners, Route 66 Ventures, Third Kind Venture Capital, Haystack Partners, and Task Force X Capital. It’s a platform for incoming-sharing agreements.

Credly has raised $4.6 million from New Markets Venture Partners. The credentialing company has raised $7.1 million total.

Carnegie Learning has acquired Globaloria.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


The Equifax breach isn’t an ed-tech story, of course. But let’s just say that the kind of negligence that led to it – Equifax not fixing a known security flaw – is far too commonplace in education.

Via Bill Fitzgerald: “Protecting Ourselves From the Equifax Data Breach, and Data Brokers in General.”

“Why do big hacks happen?” asks Jathan Sadowski in The Guardian. “Blame Big Data.”

Again, keep this in mind as schools and ed-tech feel compelled to gather more and more data.

Via Dark Reading: “72% of Educational Institutions Lack Designated InfoSec Staff.”

Via KTNV: “Foothill High School regains control of Twitter account after hack.” That’s an updated headline as the school’s Twitter account remained hacked – with obscene language and images posted to it – for days. Just a reminder that Twitter does not care about your school’s social media initiative. At all.

Via The New York Times: “The Downside of Checking Kids’ Grades Constantly.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports


Via Politico: “How U.S. News college rankings promote economic inequality on campus.”

Via the South China Morning Report: “China’s online education market to grow 20pc annually, bolstered by new technologies.”

Via YourStory: “Despite drop in funding, edtech still presents a huge opportunity.”

British girls ‘logging off’ from CS: What’s the real problem?” asks Mark Guzdial.

From Silicon Schools: “All That We’ve Learned: Five Years Working on Personalized Learning.”

Education Elements has also released a report on personalized learning.

Via Brookings: “Signs of digital distress: Mapping broadband availability and subscription in American neighborhoods.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Ambitious college-completion goals set by the Obama administration and the Lumina Foundation are unlikely to be met, according to a new analysis from Educational Testing Service, the standardized-assessment organization.”

“What happens after American higher education contracts?” asks Bryan Alexander.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “More than a quarter of Americans hold a non-degree credential, with 21 percent completing a work experience program, new federal data shows. And many of these credential holders have well-paying jobs.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Efforts to ‘raise the bar’ for becoming a teacher are running headlong into efforts to diversify the profession. Now what?”

“Research in Translation: Cultural Limits of Self-Regulated Learning,” by Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

The World Education blog on some of the latest research about private school operators, including Bridge International Academies, in Liberia.

Via Education Dive: “29% of teens report having cheated with devices.”

I’m cited in this Education Week story on the latest Horizon Report.

Via Nieman Lab: “ Adding a ‘disputed’ label to fake news seems to work, a little. But for some groups, it actually backfires.” (You can bet that “fake news” is going to be one of this year’s “top ed-tech trends.”)

A new report from the Pew Research Center: “How People Approach Facts and Information.”

Results from an AFT-backed poll: “National Poll Finds Parents Want Safe, Welcoming, Well-Funded Neighborhood Public Schools; Overwhelmingly Support Public Schools.”

Poll results from “The Gallup 2017 Survey of K–12 School District Superintendents.”

Via USA Today: “Survey: Millennials hold complex views on education.”

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees, Poll Finds.”

Via Campus Technology: “Survey of Tech in Education Finds Mixed Results.” Better keep hyping it anyway…

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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